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  1. Default Traveling from Chicago to Seattle

    This summer I will be traveling from Chicago to Seattle for school. I am wondering if I will be driving through mountains and how to avoid driving through the mountain at night if I am? Where should I be and what time should I start my drive to avoid driving through at night? Also, I have no interest in sight seeing so the fastest and safest route is preferred.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Just allow the time needed.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    To take the quickest option you will be on Interstate for most of the journey which are all made with gradual grades and curves and for the most part, when you are crossing a mountain range you won't know much about it. However I would try and avoid driving at night as there are plenty of daylight hours to cover a full day on the road. This trip will require 3 overnight stops which you could divide into (almost) equal segments of around 500 miles per day or you could do 3 x 550 mile days and finish off on day 4 with a 400 mile day into Seattle. We do not recommend you drive for more than 550 miles on a multi day trip as fatigue will set in and you will become a danger to yourself and other road users. That's 9-10 hours on the road each day with the appropriate rest breaks, lunch and bathroom breaks and to fill with gas so starting out with a 7am breakfast and on the road by 8am and you should be done for the day by 6pm. That gives you a chance to unwind, have a nice evening meal and a good nights sleep.

    I will let someone with more knowledge of the route comment whether it's I-90 all the way or I-94/I-90 or another option that's best.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    The easiest way to avoid driving through the mountains at night is..........don't drive at night!

    This isn't a good idea anyway. There are plenty of daylight hours in the summer, and you shouldn't be driving too many hours in one day for safety reasons - tired drivers kill as many people as drunks. Professional drivers are limited by law to 11 hours a day or 600 miles. Chicago to Seattle is 2100 miles, and is a 4 DAY trip. Take I-90 all the way, and plan on overnight stays in or near Sioux Falls SD, Buffalo WY, and Missoula MT. All 3 of these cities/towns have a good selection of reasonably priced hotels and motels. Don't try to spend the night sleeping in your car, this is not legal everywhere, possibly unsafe, and you won't get a proper night's rest. You should be able to get into Seattle before rush hour on the 4th day. Yes, you will be driving through mountains, there's no way to avoid them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Straightforward

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There is no way to avoid driving through mountains from Chicago to Seattle unless you want to go
    way (and I mean WAY) out of your way. The Rocky Mountains sit directly between those two cities and extend close to a thousand miles north and south of the route between them. However, the Interstate Highway System is built to standards that limit the grade (steepness) and radius-of-curvature (bendiness) of their roadbeds. If you stick to them, basically I-90/I-94 through Minneapolis, Butte, and Spokane, you should be fine.

    Also, if you're traveling in summer, you will have more hours of daylight than you can possibly use each day for driving. If you simply plan on a workmanlike day, starting relatively early (even 8:00 AM) and put in 8-9 hours behind the wheel plus food, fuel and rest stops, you can and should be off the road by 7:00 in the evening, well before dark. It also helps that you will be gaining daylight hours as you drive westward. Plan on covering right around 500-525 miles a day and getting a eight hours sleep each night and you should be fine.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I prefer I-90 to I-94, because you won't have to deal with getting through the Twin Cities. Leaving Chicago in the morning will put you there in afternoon rush hour. It would only save you about 50 miles and negligible drive time. You would lose any time savings if you get caught in traffic.

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