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redstripe11's avatar

Which is better to drive cross country? (East to West) I-40 or I-80?

Asked by redstripe11 (142 points ) October 7th, 2009

I am moving from North Carolina to Northern California in 2 weeks. As I will be driving with the wife and kids, I would like to know the most interesting and scenic route to go. I-40 would include a side trip to the Grand Canyon. I-80 would go farther North through the rockies, and Great Salt Lake.

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16 Answers

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I-40 sounds like more of a straight shot. I don’t know anything about I-80, but 40 is a really nice road, well paved, wide lanes, at least the part through Tennessee is. I miss that out here in Texas.

andrew's avatar

I loved driving I-80 (I’ve done providence => SF). The salt flats are amazing, Wyoming is phenomenal. Even Nebraska was stunning with wide open plains and stunning clouds, and I-80 through western pennsylvania is my favorite part of the US.

gailcalled's avatar

Dlo your kids like Giant Balls of String or natural wonders?

redstripe11's avatar

My kids like giant balls of string and natural wonders (assuming nature didn’t fabricate the giant ball of string!). More so, natural wonders.

From NC, I live off I-40 near Wilmington, where my new job is taking is right off of I-80 near Sacramento.

deni's avatar

I would do I-80. I’ve taken I-40 from Arizona to Oklahoma and it was boring as hell. THen again, we weren’t stopping to see anything, we just wanted to get home, so it really wasn’t meant to be enjoyable. The road was AWFUL around Albuquerque. I was driving at night and there were traffic cones and signs everywhere, no signs telling you WHERE THE LANE WAS, it was actually frightening and hard to tell at some points.

So if you take I-80 you get to see some beautiful stuff, but also a lot of dull things like the entire state of Nebraska. However I would suggest the Corn Palace. That was interesting.

Hard to say…each way has it’s ups and downs but I would prefer 80.

redstripe11's avatar

There are some interesting things in Nebraska…Chimney Rock, the Black Hills, the Huskers! (Okay, I’m originally from Nebraska…so I’m biased!)

marinelife's avatar

I have done both.

I-40 through Tennessee has some spectacular scenery., especially around the Great Smokies, and between Nashville and the Cumberland Plateau. Texas and Oklahoma are take it or leave it for me, but New Mexico is wonderful and Albuquerque is nice. The area around Flagstaff is one of my favorites. You will not believe it is Arizona. A chance to see the Grand Canyon is not to be missed. No pictures do it justice. It would be lovely this time of year.

I dove I-80 in December and hit snow and ice. It’s not that late in the year, but you could well encounter some. That would tip the balance for me.

redstripe11's avatar

Okay, my thought process so far is to take I-40 to Memphis, to see the Smokey Mountains and the colors in October. So, I’ve got ½ of the trip planed (thanks Marina). Then I’m thinking of cutting North to I-80 or staying on I-40. I am torn between the Grand Canyon vs. the Rockies. I would think that snow would be a possibility this time of year too in the high country. Appreciate the input! Keep it coming!

deni's avatar

@redstripe11 I thought the black hills were in SD and wyoming?

I didn’t even think of them though, regardless of where they are. If I-80 will take you through the black hills then I vote I-80. I love dem hills.

andrew's avatar

@deni They are.

redstripe11's avatar

Black hills…Rockies….Great Salt Lake…. = I-80

Grand Canyon….maybe a side trip to Hoover Dam if it’s not too far….it’s a long trip though and if it’s mostly flat and we’re looking at only 1 day of interesting stuff, then I’m kind of starting to lean towards I-80.

jonsblond's avatar

I especially enjoy the drive from Reno to Cheyenne. It is very desolate but an absolutely breathtaking drive. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.

deni's avatar

@jonsblond isn’t there something about it being so desolate that is just extremely interesting? when i drive through places like that, or in the desert where there is essentially no life, i get so interested in it all. it’s so far off from what we (or i, at least) know and see on a day to day basis, it really makes you think about things. i love it.

jonsblond's avatar

@deni I love it too. While others may sit back (if they aren’t the driver) and read a book or take a nap, I just stare out the window and enjoy the scenery. I’m ready for a road trip now after reading this thread!

deni's avatar

@jonsblond I was just thinking the same thing! How I wish I was staring out the window at some Nevada scenery or Colorado mountains instead of sitting here picking my nails.

YARNLADY's avatar

This time of year, I would never suggest taking the Northern route. It is, indeed, the most scenic, but if there is even the slightest possibility of bad weather, it is treacherous. Better take the southern route, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on your computer using the free wireless access available at every truck stop, and most McDonald’s restaurants.

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