interstate 70, 80 or 90


Mar 6th, 2009, 08:00 PM
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interstate 70, 80 or 90

My wife and I will be driving from Boston to Reno in late August and have about 8 days to do it in. I know that it is a relatively quick trip and I wont have time to truly see the sights along the way but was wondering which of the 3 interstates would be the most scenic and interesting? All 3 would take me to Cleveland (or Chicago) and then diverge. Once I get to those cities, which interstate should I choose? From what I can see, it appears that 80 would be my last choice although the fastest.. I will not be camping.and my car is in excellent shape. Thanks in advance.
fromMA is offline  
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Mar 6th, 2009, 09:58 PM
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I-70 is definitely most scenic. Not only over the Rockies in Colorado, but also in eastern Utah. After that, you can continue on US50 to Reno.
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Mar 7th, 2009, 10:04 AM
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I have driven both 80 and 70 from Connecticut to Denver and I would just choose the shortest route which would be 80. I don't know why that would be your last choice. I personally could miss most of the scenery between Ohio and Denver. It's not bad scenery and it is easy driving; it just takes a long time.

I drove KC to Denver on 70 and I just remember it as one long, boring, windy drive. I was driving a full size van at the time. Rt70 from Ohio to KC is easy but takes us about 12-13 hours from Akron.

The drive through Pennsylvania on 80 is pretty but takes about 7 or 8 hours to drive through. Our children used to hate Pennsylvania when we used to often take that route to Connecticut. Lots of Highway Patrol on this stretch.

We have also taken 90, which gives you some views of the lakes.

Maybe plan your routes with where you want to stop.
Boston to Cleveland
Cleveland to Chicago--only about 6 hours
Chicago to KC
KC to Denver
Take 70 and 50 as suggested above to Reno

I'd get to Denver as fast as I could (great fares on Frontier Airlines--I love that airline)and spend my time out there.

We love the Colorado Mountains and Lake Tahoe.
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Mar 7th, 2009, 10:29 AM
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I think the OP is asking about the route FROM the midwest onwards. From Boston, there's no reason to not just take the Masspike and then NYThruway (i.e. I-90) all the way till at least Cleveland.

From Cleveland, I'd take I-71 down to I-70 to go across; that way one can bypass Chicagoland.
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Mar 7th, 2009, 11:57 AM
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I agree with rkkwan about I-71 to I-70 to avoid Chicago and all the rest if you prefer doing I-70.

Although I might also look at I-90 to hit Custer, the Badlands, and Rapid City then over to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons before hitting I-15 down to Salt Lake City and then I-80 into Reno. I've done all those routes, and that one includes my favorites. With 8 days, I'd push to get to Omaha or Sioux City in the first two (long days) of driving, then spend some time between there and Salt Lake City with the last day being the drive from SLC to Reno.

No that route isn't the quickest, but I think it has more to offer once you get west than the other routes.
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Mar 7th, 2009, 07:59 PM
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Consider turning north to Muskegon, MI and take the high-speed ferry across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee then link up with I-90 or I-94 until you hit I-15 thence south to 80 and on to Reno. I personally think 80 via the Bonneville Salt Flats and the basin and range country of Nevada is an interesting route. Or, you coud stay on I-15 south of Salt Lake City until you catchg US 50 across Utah and Nevada, also an interesting and scenic route. I think you could do any of those options in 8 days.
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Mar 8th, 2009, 03:55 PM
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I saw the heading of this post and thought I might learn something from some experienced car travelers. Instead I learned that each of the considered paths has some very appealing reasons for going that way. (consequently no clear ideas to file away for the future)

As to the puzzle at hand, you have 8 days to cover 3000-ish miles, so the question really becomes which spot or two off in the far west do you wish to stop for perhaps even two consecutive nights after hauling ass out of the east?

So yeah,

Buffalo and Cleveland should be givens...

and I'd say that Denver and Salt Lake City are the best spots to land for a full day or so, which narrows the question down to I-70 or I-80.

So maybe you narrow those down to lists of the cities you'd pass through on either one, as follows:

Des Moines

St Louis
Kansas City

Perhaps one of you has some interest or familiarity with one or more of those spots which might dictate the path.

At any rate, haul ass early and decide whether you'd like to spend two consecutive nights at either Denver or SLC once you reach the western U.S.

It is a fun predicament to have, especially if gas prices don't get anywhere near to last summer's staggering highs!
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Mar 9th, 2009, 05:55 AM
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I have driven to Denver a number of times, and have always done it on I70 since I'm coming from NC.
I have driven to KC in a day doing 900 miles (from Charlotte) going through St. Louis. If you go through ST.L. do not take the beltways--just go straight through, and hopefully not at 5PM.
From KC to Denver it is 700 miles to Denver--do not make the mistake of thinking that when you hit the Colorado state line you are "about there"!!
I agree with bypassing Chicago--drop down to I70 and just "put in the time" and get to Denver as quick as you can. The speed limits are high and the roads straight and not crowded. I have also driven Denver to Dayton--it is basically a day and a half.
The other positive of going west is you "gain" an hour or two, so your driving day can be longer. It's not as much fun coming back!!
There are a lot of motels along the interstate in Kansas and Missouri so not really necessary to set a place for a reservation.
Books on tape are a good thing!!
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Mar 9th, 2009, 07:43 AM
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Agree with NeoPatrick, especially if you prefer the parks over the cities. We loved visiting Custer, Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons. You won't be able to avoid Chicago--we actually always seem to run into traffic slow downs around Gary, Ind. This is not the shortest route but definitely more scenic.
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Apr 10th, 2009, 08:13 AM
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The interstate system wasn't built for scenery so if you see any close by you can assume it was an accident.
I90 once you get to the Missouri River is one of those cases and I70 from St Louis to KC.
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Apr 11th, 2009, 07:23 PM
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No experience with I-90 but would pick I-80 to Denver (via I-76) over I-70 from St. Louis. Of the two I-80 is a bit more scenic and more historical. I-80 in Iowa passes the Amana Colonies near Iowa City and later Council Bluffs. In Nebraska follows the Oregon and Mormon trails along the Platte. Also the Pony Express trail. Some interesting stops along the way - Ft. Kearney, Gothenburg, Buffalo Bill's Ranch in North Platte and maybe a rodeo. Denver is worth a stop for a day or so. From Denver west I-70 is far more scenic than I-80 and, again, a number of interesting historical stops. If making a slow that would be my recommendation.
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Apr 11th, 2009, 08:13 PM
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I've driven all three routes and there are interesting places to see whichever route you take if you take the time to get off the interstate. A few years ago, I drove through Wyoming and Nebraska near I-80 but pretty much stayed off the interstate while exploring Oregon Trail sights. I've also enjoyed I-70 through Colorado and Utah and then Hwy 50 through Western Utah and Nevada. I much prefer 50 to I-80 through Nevada.

One concern about I-70 is that it will be the hottest route. I-90 would be the coolest especially after you get in the Black Hills. Then you could go through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and then drop down into Northern Nevada through Twin Falls, Idaho.

An alternative route to take if driving I-90 is to get to Buffalo (stay the night at Niagra Falls) and then drive through Ontario to Detroit and then take the ferry as Boom-Boom recommends across Lake Michigan. The ferry is a kick and is quite fast. This way you will skip the ugliness of Indiana and Illinois near Chicago. If you go this way, take a day off to spend at Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. It's one of America's historical treasures.
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Apr 20th, 2009, 02:00 PM
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Many thanks for your suggestions. We have decided to go out via I-90 to Erie and I-80 to Des Moines as we will be there at the same time as the Iowa State fair which sounds like fun (how can you go wrong with a state fair that has a whole page listing food on a stick in their web page). Then south to KC and across I-70 to Utah where I will turn north to pick up I-80 to Reno. I-70 through the Rockies sounds spectacular.
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Apr 20th, 2009, 02:02 PM
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"(how can you go wrong with a state fair that has a whole page listing food on a stick in their web page)"

So true! I see ultimate corn dogs in your future!!
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Apr 21st, 2009, 03:15 AM
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Since you are coming from Boston, you may be interested to follow Supercilious's idea and get off I-80 from time to time: both US 20 (starts in Kenmore Square) and US 6 (starts in Provincetown) roughly parallel I-80, and US 6 goes right through Denver. Both are more interesting than the Interstate with (generally) less truck traffic. Makes a nice change of pace for an hour or two.
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Apr 21st, 2009, 05:49 AM
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Since time is limited, here is my 2¢.

I80 to the I80/I76 split. Denver I70 to US50 and Reno. Return via I80. That should be the quickest and most scenic thru the Rocky Mountains. The other Mid West states you will be going thru all look the same from the Interstate. You would have to get off the "I" highway to enjoy those.
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Jul 12th, 2009, 12:39 PM
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I have to go to Reno and have been thinking of taking the same route that "from MA" took. I will be starting from Windsor Locks, CT into Mass (Mass Turnpike) and then across 23 to pick up interstate 88 to interstate 86 then on to Interstate 80. Is this way longer or about the same as going through CT into NY state and then through PA?
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Jul 12th, 2009, 12:58 PM
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From Windsor Locks, just take I-84 across CT and NY will definitely be shorter and faster, even with traffic.
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Jul 12th, 2009, 02:26 PM
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I don't know the east very well, but if you take I-80 to just past North Platte, Nebraska, then I'd take I-76 down to Denver and then take I-70 across Colorado and Utah for one of the most beautiful sections of Interstate I've driven.

If you really want a treat, pick up Hwy 50 at Salina, UT and to cross Nevada to Reno. There is a lot of history on this route from Silver Mines to petroglyphs to the Pony Express route and throw in a big Sand Dune for fun.

(Aren't you glad you asked! )

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Jul 12th, 2009, 02:56 PM
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I just got back from a driving trip to Denvery, I80 going out and I70 coming back.

I76 from Nebraska to Denver is one of the roughest road I have been on in a long time. Unless you have a cushy ride, you're going to regret taking that road.
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