I'm moving to Salt Lake City for the summer. I'd like to take US highways, but I don't have much money for hotel rooms.
Is it possible to make this a two-day drive? How much would I be looking at paying for hotel rooms? (I drove to Orlando and back for fall break last year but I've never done a trip this long, by myself.)
Two long days
You could do this in two long days, but I doubt that would be possible without lots of Interstate driving. Rand McNally says its 1659 miles and 26 hours of driving time, through Ft Smith, OKC, Wichita, Denver, then north to I-80 and west on that.
Motels can be found frequently for $35 to $40, sometimes cheaper if you find old Mom and Pop places. In some markets you won't find ANYTHING in that range, but will have to pay $50 to $70 almost everywhere. It's hard too nail it down any more than that.
Do you have a little backpacker tent? You could maybe find a place to camp along the way (your overnight would probably fall somewhere between Salina and Colby, Kansas along I-70 -- and there are quite a number of state parks with campgrounds along that route).
Or, if your car seats recline, take a blanket and find a safe place to just park and sleep in the car. For just a two day trip, you can get away with that without too much difficulty if you need to.
Unfortunately, I'm moving (okay, I'm a poor college student and don't own much of anything) so even if I can recline my seat, I probably wouldn't want to, and my parents have already said they will take my car away if I do. :P
I did find Motel 6 online has rather cheap hotel rates, with internet discounts--Salina's Motel 6 was like $30, $36 in Hays, $29 in Wichita; and it may not even be necessary to make it in two days since I found out I have relatives in Denver who I may be able to stay with. So it may not be necessary.
Relatives are usually very inexpensive for lodging...
If Motel 6 is selling for less than $40, then others will be as well, so you should be OK one way or the other.