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Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

Washington DC...
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Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

If you had to drive from Louisville, Kentucky to San Francisco in January, which route would you take? I won't be stopping to see anything really, this trip is more about efficiency.

Generally, my choices seem to be I-80 or I-40, with some less important differences at the beginning of the trip, around St. Louis / Kansas City, or Nashville / Little Rock. My main concern is, is I-80 generally too snowy / windy / wintery to drive all the way across it in January? Specifically through Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada?

Either way, I'm don't think I'll take I-70 through Denver.

There is also a bit of an extenuating factor, which is why I'm thinking about this now. I have a friend who's going to do most of the drive with me, but he's flying in from Sweden to meet me about 1/3 of the way into my route. So we're trying to decide what city he should fly into.

I'm open to suggestions. Just not sure what these areas of the country (and their interstate conditions) are like in January. Thanks, all!

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

Generally speaking in winter the further south the better. Even on I 40 we have encountered snow in northern Texas.

Least likely instances of snow would be on I 20 or I 10 because they are further south.

Aubrey, Texas
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2. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

In Winter follow the old rule of "plan for the worst and hope for the best." I would take a southern route as well. About a third of the way is Oklahoma City but consider Dallas. If the forecast is for good weather on I40, go that way. Austin would add about a day's drive compared to other routes but I10 to Los Angeles is the most reliable route for good weather in winter.

Edited: 07 August 2014, 14:34
Washington DC...
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3. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

Yup, right now I'm looking hard at OK City or Dallas. Dallas is farther south and a longer route, but flights there form Sweden are cheaper than almost anywhere else in the middle of the country.

Edited: 07 August 2014, 14:42
Uden, The...
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4. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

The OP also has a thread running on the Utah forum:

tripadvisor.co.uk/…60332596

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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5. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

From DC the I-81 to the I-40 is the drive of choice ... If Dallas is, the meet up mid point the I-20 to I-10 would be my favored drive. .. With the understanding that the Continental Divide, West of Deming NM, is a "weather magnet " Start North, to San Francisco at Tucson, for stops at the Grand Canyon & Las Vegas ... carracar

Edited: 07 August 2014, 15:52
LA
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6. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

I would not take I-80 in January.

Corona del Mar, CA
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7. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

I would take I-80 because I am very comfortable in snow. I-70 is also a gorgeous drive. Both are relatively easy because they are major interstate freeways.

But if you are not comfortable in snow I'd go through Dallas and get to the I-10.

How long is the trip (how many nights) and how much sightseeing will you be doing along the way? Are you flying or driving back to DC?

N. Idaho
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8. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

I would probably plan for I40 and do a secondary route plan for after you meet up with your friend, then watch the weather like a hawk the couple of weeks before you go to see if there is a pattern to how the weather systems are moving. Make your final decision a few days out. It seemed like this last winter there were bad storms creating havoc further south and at times I80 looked *relatively* clear.

If you do wind up on I80, once you are in Wyoming and Utah, plan to stop before dark as things will start to get icy as the sun sets. Don't plan to leave in the AM until the sun is up...say 8AM or so.

Now for the standard driving in winter cautions. Have paper maps with you. Do not rely on GPS and under no circumstances turn off a main road to follow it's directions. In your budget, allow for the possibility that you may have to sit out a day or 2 in a hotel while a weather system passes over you. Have a winter emergency kit with you with food, water and blankets/sleeping bags that are reachable from the front seat. Keep your cell phones charged. Don't let your gas tank get too low. ***end of public service announcement, lol.

Pam

Tacoma, Washington
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9. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

head South to I-40 or I-10. I-80 and I-70 WILL have road closures due to snow.

Uden, The...
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10. Re: Which cross-country route in January, I-40 or I-80?

Also I40 can be closed in winter esp in Arizona. Disadvantage of I80 also is Donner Pass in California.