SF/NY on US-50
I'll be driving from San Francisco to New York this summer. I'm budgeting 7 days for the trip and would like to get a flavor of middle America but without being delayed too much. Many books have been written on US-50, but I'm worried that US-50 would be too slow to be able to drive coast/coast in a week (I know the part of US-50 from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe--it's a two-lane road that's not nearly as fast as US80. One winter we drove on it to get to Tahoe and the trip took almost 12 hours from the Bay Area!)
Can anyone tell me what I should expect my average speed to be on US-50? Alternatively, does it make sense to drive on this highway only part of the way (perhaps western US) and then switch to a faster highway? Since US-50 doesn't go through many large cities, will I be able to avoid the rush hour traffic that's more common on highways such as US-80 and compensate for the lower average speed limit?
Thanks a lot!
I've only driven US-50 in the west, Sacramento to Utah and in the Ohio area (Dayton and it's environs) so I have limited information about the other areas. In the midwest, the areas I am familiar with are very slow-narrow and through the hearts of every town and village in its path. You can probably do it in a week but it will be long days of driving.
I have an alternative suggestion: I-80 to Salt Lake, US-40 to Denver, I-70 to western Pennsylvania, then one of the US-routes (US-50, US-40 etc.) through the Pennsyvania Amish country and on to your destination. That combination of scenix and high-speed routes will give you a little more time to stop and smell the bakeries along the way. Have a wonderful trip.
Let's see....a straight interstate route SF to NY utilizing the I-80 corridor is about 2920 miles, so that's 400+ miles each day just on interstates.
Don's suggestion of U.S. 40 in Colorado and the jaunt through the PA Dutch country is a good one. You should take it into consideration.
Best parts of U.S. 50 are in Colorado, but that takes you pretty far to the south, and you'd have to work your way back to the northeast in the general direction of St. Louis.
U.S. 50 in Nevada is pretty isolated....not an especially good route in the summer unless you're truly adventurous.
On most two-lane US highways, your average speed in populated mountainous terrain will be approx. 40-45 mph, and sometimes even less depending on traffic. This takes into account the towns along the way and various traffic lights and speed limits. In relatively flat country (such as Kansas), you'll average 50-55. You'll make good time on the open stretches, but some of those towns will make you go crazy with the slow-downs (not to mention the watchful eyes of the local law!)
An alternate idea for combining speed with scenery is this: I-80 east to Salt Lake City, I-15 south to just below Provo, then US 6 east to Green River, UT. From there take I-70 east through Colorado (spectacular!) and over to St. Louis, then I-64 east(underrated!) through Louisville and on to Charleston, WV. After that, take I-79 north to Morgantown, WV, then I-68 east to Hancock, MD, I-70 east to Hagerstown, then I-81 north and I-78 east into the NYC area. Most of the route east of St. Louis offers lots of greenery and hills/mountains, and avoids large cities and some of the major truck routes. Distance on this route is about 3150 miles.