Driving from D.C. to Sacramento
June 4, 2007 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Suggested routes from D.C. to Sacramento, C.A.?

All of my previous cross country driving has been back and forth to Seattle, but this summer I'll be driving to Sacramento twice (the second time to stay) and I'm really unfamiliar with the middle states. With a 5 to 6 day driving budget what shouldn't be, and very much should be, missed on the way?
posted by mikoroshi to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could always take Route 50, one of the original U.S. Highways, which runs directly from DC to Sacramento. It's narrower and windier than the interstates, and should give you a glimpse of American towns and life often missed from bigger roads.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:57 AM on June 4, 2007

It depends how far off the main highway you want to get. I-70 is boring as hell in IL-MO-KS-eastern CO except around cities (and confusing as all get out in Kansas City). Out in COlorado past the Divide, get off at Glenwood springs down to Montrose, then back up to Grand Junction to really see some awesome mountains. Out in Utah, take a day or two to do a quick look-see of Arches and Canyonlands (and while you're in Utah, enjoy some Polygamy Porter). NV across 50, which is likely the fastest way if you're on 70 otherwise, is pretty dull unless you dig geology and pronghorns (which I do). Another option is to drop down 6 in NV through Tonopah (dig some Little Feat on the radio), on down to the west side of Yosemite. There's a ghost town called Bodie about 40 miles from Mono Lake that is fantastic.

And for the love of Christ, do not even do the limit in Russell COunty, KS. Stay three below. Seriously. I'm not kidding.
posted by notsnot at 10:08 AM on June 4, 2007

I really loved I-50 through Nevada. Road Trip USA summarizes it. Carefull driving at night - lots of wildlife out on those roads. Have fun!
posted by dog food sugar at 10:37 AM on June 4, 2007

I-70 is boring as hell in IL-MO-KS-eastern CO except around cities (and confusing as all get out in Kansas City).

I've only gotten as far West as Junction City on 70, but I've been so surprisedly charmed by east Kansas that I've been hanging out in Lawrence for days. YMMV.

About 8 years ago, I did the drive from Utah to DC and back via 270-76-80 (and Sacramento's a 10 hour straight shot down 80 from Utah). It was pretty in September. A little bleak in December. Pretty standard interstate driving, though. Highway 50 sounds like a good bet for me if you want something off the beaten path.
posted by weston at 12:56 PM on June 4, 2007

Another vouch for I-50 thru NV. And CO. And UT.
posted by i_cola at 1:01 PM on June 4, 2007

If you go through Nevada (my stompin grounds) on Hwy 50, take a bit of time and check out Cave Lake, Ward Charcoal Ovens (they're close to each other), and Berlin-Ichthyosaur park. They're pretty cool. Berlin-Ichthyosaur is a bit of a detour but worth it.

And if you find yourself in Ely, Nevada staying overnight, try the Bristlecone Motel and ask for the upper corner room, known among those of us who spend time there as the "Pimp Room". The decor is classic 70's naugahyde and gold lame. It looks like a set for a pr0n film. Awesome!
posted by elendil71 at 1:32 PM on June 4, 2007

I've only done that trip in a hurry to get to the other end, and have taken I-80 for most of the way. I actually like the parts driving through Nebraska and Iowa, though.

On Route 50 in Sacramento is a sign that says "Ocean City, MD x,xxx miles" (can't remember the exact number) which never fails to inspire in me the desire to throw aside the petty cares of my job and head east...
posted by gingerbeer at 3:15 PM on June 4, 2007

It's 3,073 miles, as I would have known had I read croutonsupafreak's link. d'oh.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:16 PM on June 4, 2007

It doesn't say it in the Wikipedia entry, but the sign in Ocean City, MD is right before you cross over the Kelly Memorial Bridge on your way out of town. If you're near OC, MD before your trip, you could grab a picture at both ends of 50.

Also, don't miss Seven Corners in Virginia. Kidding...
posted by redarmycomrade at 5:28 AM on June 5, 2007

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