I-70, I-80, r I-90 driving Chicago to Denver?

Old Sep 24th, 2020, 10:48 AM
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I-70, I-80, r I-90 driving Chicago to Denver?

I'm driving with a friend from Boston to Denver next month and we want to stop in Chicago on the way. We have six days between when we leave and when my friend needs to fly home from Denver (I'm continuing on to LA for a move). I've been looking at routes and can't decide if it would be better to take I-70 and stop in St. Lous, take I-80 for the fastest route, or if it would be worth the extra time taking I-90 and seeing the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, etc.

Thoughts? Thanks!
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Old Sep 24th, 2020, 01:57 PM
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It is really just a question of what you want to do and what you interests are. All three can be pretty boring routes although I think I-80 across Iowa and especially Nebraska is more interesting than i-70 across Kansas and eastern CO. But it is mostly wide open interstate. The Gateway arch at Kearney is an interesting and fairly well done three hour stop with min time lost getting on and off I-80. Buffalo Bill's ranch in North Platte is worth an hour and the Union Pacific rail yard are super interesting if you are into trains. Eisenhower museum in Abilene off I-70 is worth a half day BUT it is real boring from that point west. What are you interests???
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 03:12 AM
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Just get on to Denver and enjoy some time there although the Badlands are quite interesting to me. But 6 days from Boston will be eaten up with a stop in Chicago also.
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 04:21 AM
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From Boston to Chicago, 90 is a tiny bit longer but much less stressful and not much different in time. From there I would evaluate the weather conditions and decide which route to take. Denver has already had snow but they deal with it well so hunker down for a day then head out if it snows when you get there.

If you continue west on 70 from Denver, you could drop down 191 to Moab and visit Arches and Canyonlands then continue south and visit Grand Canyon then pick up 40 to 15 to LA.
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Old Sep 25th, 2020, 05:50 AM
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In the east cut down on I-81 to get to I-80 south of Scranton. Avoid the NYS Thruway. The Badlands (I-90) could get a sudden snowstorm in late October so take the southerly route. After Denver, Moab would be a good stop. Try for Las Vegas for the stop before Los Angeles (I-15).
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Old Aug 2nd, 2021, 07:57 AM
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Would love to hear a follow up from the OP. We are planning this exact same trip in a few weeks and I'm currently trying to decide on the route. Time is more of the essence for us than the OP. We won't be making any stops to sightsee, but I'm wondering if one route is more scenic than the other and is more pleasant to drive. I'm also wondering if one route offers better access to interesting restaurants. Obviously we have to stop to eat and I'd much prefer to find some fun and interesting places along the way than a ho-hum chain restaurant. And when I say this, I don't mean that it has to be "fancy" -- not looking for that at all -- burgers, pizza, etc. are totally fine -- but looking for a place that might be lauded for having the "best pizza in ___" or "a burger you absolutely have to try" -- hopefully you get the idea of what I'm trying to say.

If the OP (or anyone else) cares to respond -- let me break the trip into two segments. Segment one is Boston to Chicago. Would you choose I-90 thru NY or the more southern I-80 route? (There's only about a 40-60 minute difference between the two.) The second segment is Chicago to Denver. Would you take the fastest and most direct, I-80, or add about two hours and go south on I-70 through St. Louis and Kansas City? For the second segment, I'm leaning more towards I-80 because I'm thinking that we might hit a lot of traffic through St. Louis and Kansas City and if we're only making one or two stops for food, then the extra 2+ hours won't really be worth it. But would love to hear opinions from those of you who have done this drive before or know these routes. Thanks!

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Old Aug 2nd, 2021, 09:47 AM
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The only section I can address is I-70 from St Louis to Kansas City. It is very busy the whole way. I drove the opposite way last November when there may have been less traffic.

In St Louis, the Gateway Arch is worth a visit, unless you're claustrophobic. The elevators to go to the top are tiny and cramped.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2021, 10:01 AM
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From Boston to Chicago, the southerly route risks traffic delays near Hartford on I84, but if you avoid rush hour through there they're about the same in the bigger pitcure. Both routes are a lot of driving on well traveled interstates through rolling hills of NY (I90) or PA (I84/I80). Both routes have perpetual construction which can lead to backup and accidents. A stretch of 90 through western MA with split lanes has been problems this summer more so than usual.

I90 through NY has highway rest areas so you may never leave the highway unless you want to. To me it's 6 of one, half dozen of the other.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2021, 10:43 AM
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When we lived in Ft. Collins we would regularly drive I-80 & 76 back to Omaha. More times than I would've preferred. One interesting place to stop for grub might be Ole's Big Game Bar in Paxton, NE, just off I-80 between Ogallala & North Platte. But don't go if the concept of big game trophy hunting is offensive, however.
https://www.olesbiggame.com/
As far as scenery, much along I-80 in Nebraska & Iowa is just cornfields. West of Grand Island is a bit more scenic as you're on the southern edge of the Sandhills.

Last edited by baldone; Aug 2nd, 2021 at 10:59 AM.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2021, 11:42 AM
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" because I'm thinking that we might hit a lot of traffic through St. Louis and Kansas City and if we're only making one or two stops for food, then the extra 2+ hours won't really be worth it. But would love to hear opinions from those of you who have done this drive before or know these routes. Thanks!"

I have driven I 70 to Denver many many times and have never really been held up in either city (most especially KC) going either way. And I do not take the beltways around--just straight through and go with the flow of traffic.

Question for the new poster--are you going to Chicago also? And with regard to wanting to eat at an interesting place--if time is of the essence, getting off and finding such really does take more time unless it is where you are stopping for the night.

Last edited by Gretchen; Aug 2nd, 2021 at 11:45 AM.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2021, 02:01 PM
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An alternative could be highways 2/12/212/14/16/18 . You can pick your own adventure, and avoid traveling the same route twice if you like.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2021, 04:45 AM
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Tracey - we are looping from Chicago - Denver - Utah - LV - Ariz - NM - TX and then returning - so a loop something similar to what you have. You don't mention if you are driving back or just driving one way. If you are looping, consider traveling both routes to experience different things. There's not much on 80 (though the Amana Colonies and the Omaha Zoo are very special) and it is faster. Clearly you've already investigated St. Louis & KC. For restaurants, check into the 'Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives' website of Guy Fieri (and if you're not familiar with the show, get familiar with it).
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Old Aug 3rd, 2021, 05:43 AM
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D-Dawg - when is your trip?

I-70 through Glenwood Canyon is a massive mess right now.

https://kdvr.com/news/local/watch-cd...enwood-canyon/

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Old Aug 3rd, 2021, 01:25 PM
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I-70 in Glenwood Canyon is more than a mess. Recent reports are that it could be closed for several weeks. And these is not an easy way around it. The recommended detour through Steamboat Springs is around five hours long. So either stick to I-80 through Wy or go south to I-40. I think I-40 to LA from Denver is within a couple hours of I-70 and probably quicker than I-80..
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Old Aug 4th, 2021, 11:09 AM
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Just for fun, I google-mapped both routes and, very surprisingly, the northern I-80 is very slightly shorter and faster. I don't think it's a big enough difference to influence a decision, but it seemed more likely that going south would be quite a bit faster. Major pain in the neck either way.
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Old Aug 13th, 2021, 09:14 AM
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The original post travel was September of 2020. I am sure they have completed the trip by now
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Old Aug 13th, 2021, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by fmpden View Post
The original post travel was September of 2020. I am sure they have completed the trip by now
But TraceySmith topped the thread Aug 2 to ask similar questions and it seems the latest replies are to her (though she hasn't been back to comment re the responses)
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