Cross Country Road Trip, Pittsburgh to Eugene - Advice
June 15, 2017 7:58 AM   Subscribe

In a few weeks, Mrs Molerats and I will load up the pup and head from PA to Oregon in our Honda Civic. Seeking advice on our route (never driven through the western US before), and any cool things we can see with a 50-pound dog in tow.

We're really doing this!!

I've mapped the Google maps suggested driving route: I-80 all the way to Utah, then I-84 to Boise, then US-20 to Eugene.

My tentative route so far is:
Day 1 Pittsburgh to Joliet, IL. 7.5 hrs
Day 2 Joliet to Omaha 6.5 hrs
Day 3 Omaha to Cheyenne 7 hrs
Day 4 Cheyenne to Salt Lake City 6.5 hrs
Day 5 SLC to Boise 5 hrs
Day 6 Boise to Eugene 7.5 hrs

This was just based on picking cities along the way. If there's any days we should make longer/shorter I'd take any suggestions.

I've never seen anything west of Omaha and would love to take in any cool parks etc that are easy to get to off the highway and that we could bring the dog along. The car will be too hot and she wouldn't like to be left alone at a motel, so any adventures must be doggable. So far I've checked out Craters of the Moon (dogs only on the loop road) and Antelope Island (maybe we could do a little hike -- the dog would implode if she got to see a bison). I'm willing to add one, maybe two extra days for really cool stuff but after that we don't have the hotel money and not really wanting to camp on this trip.

Also, I'm assuming we don't need to worry about snow in late June, but anything we need to know about driving in the western half of the US for the first time? Anything we should be sure to have with us, besides water, jumper cables, etc?
posted by nakedmolerats to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total)
If your goal is maximizing scenery and seeing the West, I'd scrap the section of I-80 through Wyoming. If you extend your trip a little farther south, you can take I-70 through Colorado and have a pretty enjoyable drive with lots of great hike options versus a slog. I love Wyoming but I-80 was not built to maximize scenic beauty. Also, instead of doing an equal amount of driving each day, I'd probably switch things up so you spend a lot of drive time through the midwest and then short days later on where you can spend a lot of time doing activities. Here's an example:
Day 1: Pittsburgh to Iowa City: 10 hours
Day 2: Iowa City to Denver: 11 hours (you don't need to spend much time in Denver, but it's easy to find a nice patio or brewery that's dog friendly)
Day 3: Denver to Palisade: 4 hours (So, so many hiking trails along I-70 that allow dogs. Beautiful scenery; you're right in the Rocky Mountains. Palisade's Riverbend Dog Park is nice).
Day 4: Palisade to Salt Lake City: 4.5 hours
Day 5: Salt Lake City to Bend, OR: 10 hours (They don't call Bend "DogTown USA" for nothing. Also, it's beautiful and you can float down the Deschutes river with your dog.)
Day 6: Bend to Eugene: 2.5 hours
posted by shornco at 9:01 AM on June 15, 2017

Yes, Wyoming from I-80 is straight and pretty boring - Colorado is much more scenic. Alternatively, if you take a north route like I-90/94 west of Ohio, where it's a toll road, you can go through the Dakota Badlands (western dakotas). The norther route would also let you pass through Idaho and duck over to Craters of the Moon if black volcanic rock scenery is your jam. The Lewiston/Clarkston grade in Idaho is also very scenic, but is probably a bit out of your way (I went east that way on the same trip as Craters of the Moon).

Seconding shornco - Palisade/Riverbend is gorgeous, as is Bend, OR. I think their Day 6 is set up to let you spend the morning with doggo in Bend, and then finish up the drive.

A lot of the rest stops along the Rockies and Cascades are going to have gorgeous scenery, so make sure you take time to stop and look.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:07 AM on June 16, 2017

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