Hey guys, first big road trip and first post here! I'm happy to find this old-school treasure trove of knowledge :)
I'm moving myself from NYC to Portland, OR over 7 days (Nov 21 thru 27) - I'll be renting a mid-size SUV like a Toyota RAV4 which I'll be packing somewhat tight with my belongings.
I'm pretty set on the first couple days, as Chicago seems to be the consensus hub for all points West. In the handful of posts I've read on getting through the mountains, I sense that there are two schools of thought: the more direct southern route on I-80 to I-84; and the lower-elevation Northern route on I-90/I-94/SR-395/I-82/I-84.
Does anyone care to add to the debate over these two routes, or to throw their hat in the ring for another one? I'm slightly more partial to the Northern route, as I've heard great things about Montana, and (unfortunately) not-so-great things about Nebraska, though my main concern is obviously the weather, which I plan to keep an eye on as I move West. I do have a fair bit of experience driving in the snow, though not much in a mountain environment.
This being my first time through this part of the country, I'm also wondering if anyone has any recommendations for good overnight stays outside of the main population centers on the route. Using a simplistic method of hopping from one big town to the next, I've come up with this draft route along the Northern route: *Edited: I mistakenly gave myself a 800 mile drive from Chicago to Bismarck* NYC - Akron, OH - Chicago, IL - Sioux Falls, SD - Sheridan, WY - Missoula, MT - Portland. This would be a 6 day trip, which gives me one day of slack for unforeseen delays. Do you guys think this is feasible this time of year, and are there any hidden gems that I should stop to see along the way?
Thanks for reading this wall of text - I look forward to trading notes with y'all in the future!
tl;dr: NYC to Portland in 7 days - I-80 or I-90, what's the best way through the mountains??