Suggestion on route from Kansas City to San Jose?
March 8, 2010 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I will be driving from Kansas City to San Jose in March 2010. Can anyone suggest your preferred route and stops?

I have 4 days and 3 nights. Right now, I'm leaning towards I-70 to avoid potential bad weather on I-80 near Reno.
posted by andryharyanto to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
That's kind of a long stretch. Can you tell us what you are into? Would you rather see a huge ball of duct tape or a canyon?

Also we're already almost a third of the way into March and the weather is slowly warming here in Northern California. Other than an early-spring freak storm the weather over Donner Pass should be fine. It's a heavily traveled road and is usually driveable in all but the worst conditions even in a small 2wd sedan.
posted by Big_B at 3:26 PM on March 8, 2010

Yeah. You can read an atlas as well as I can, but I-70 takes you WAY out of the way (i.e., to LA instead of the Bay Area) unless you cross over to I-80 well before the Reno/Tahoe area. There's pretty much no way to avoid the pass without going at least 10 hours and several hundred miles out of the way.

Are you more interested in sightseeing, good food, good lodging, or what? 4 days is plenty to actually do the drive; it could probably be done in 2 very long days or 3 modest ones.
posted by rkent at 3:32 PM on March 8, 2010

I'm planning this in the reverse direction and the two basic ways are going up to Omaha from KC and taking 80 from there, or popping north at Denver. I'm inclined to suggest Denver, but then again there's some stuff in Omaha I'd like to see.
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on March 8, 2010

You might be interested in this question of mine from last summer. I had the opposite trip planned (San Francisco to KC), but it ended up being postponed for a year.

We had planned to take 80 because we had driven through Colorado and Kansas, but not Utah, Wyoming or Nebraska.
posted by donajo at 4:15 PM on March 8, 2010

I-70 traffic can be a bit of a bear. FWIW, I would rather drive through Nebraska on I-80 than through Kansas on I-70. Plus, Wyoming is gorgeous.
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 4:40 PM on March 8, 2010

I've done the KC - SF/SJ trip twice (and once the other way). If you haven't been there, and have the time/desire to make it happen, Arches National Park is mind blowing. Taking slightly longer to see that (and the Grand Canyon, I mean, why not live it up?!?) is totally worth it.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 5:15 PM on March 8, 2010

Wyoming on I-80 is gorgeous, as is the approach to Salt Lake City.

I-70 through Kansas vs I-80 through Nebraska is kind of a tossup - Nebraska has both better (rolling prairie in the panhandle) and worse (endless stretches of feedlot).

In March, your options for going over/around the Sierra Nevada are somewhat limited. The very pretty passes will be closed or utterly impractical. The viable options are: 1) go through Reno/Truckee on I-80, 2) go around to the south on I-70 + I-15, or 3) go on a southern route the whole way with I-35 to OKC, then west on I-40 all the way to Barstow.

Either of those southern routes is significantly longer than taking 80 (and I-40 through western Oklahoma/Texas panhandle is soulcrushingly boring), but you might luck out with the desert wildflower blooms.

I would probably consider going through New Mexico on 40 just for the food (and to revisited the Petrified Forest in eastern Arizona). Day one - haul to Amarillo or eastern NM. Day two - sightsee and EAT across NM. Day three - visit the Petrified Forest in early morning light, then get all the way across Arizona (overnight options are pretty dreary). Day four - head west to Barstow, then up the 5.

Otherwise, I'd take 70 through Kansas and then cut over to 80 at Laramie. That's a two day drive, with an overnight in Salt Lake City or eastern Nevada. If they've reopened 70 by then (closed for a rockslide as of yesterday), you could use your full four days, continue on 70 through to Utah, go to Arches NP for a day, then cut over to 80. I've taken US-6 from Green River up to SLC, but it was in the summertime and I think you might do better to take I-15.
posted by janell at 8:08 PM on March 8, 2010

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