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Roadtrip routing advice (Dayton to DC)

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We don't have a "route advice" forum anywhere, so I thought this section seemed like the most appropriate place to ask for comments.

Need to make a roadtrip out to Dayton in a couple of weeks for family business. I've never driven there—it's my wife's family and we got married in 2010 and I flew out the other time I went there—but I know the "conventional" route via the Interstate and we'll probably use some version of that for the trip out (most likely I-270 -> I-68 -> US-40 -> new PA-43 freeway -> I-70; main reason on US-40/PA-43 is that neither of us has used that road but we've both used I-68 to I-79 several times as well as the Pennsylvania Turnpike on many occasions). For the trip out I'm setting aside roadgeeking, except perhaps for opting for the Wheeling Tunnel instead of I-470, simply because our goal has to be to get out there in a timely fashion on a Wednesday.

What I'm trying to figure out is the way I want to come back to the DC area on a Sunday afternoon. Taking I-70 across Ohio in both directions seems like a boring option when there are so many other roads. I'm wondering if anyone could give me some comments on the pros and cons of the following options:

(1) US-35 southeast to Chillicothe, then US-50 across through Athens to Parkersburg and then across West Virginia to Clarksburg, followed by I-79-->I-68 etc. on home. (From the maps the portion of US-50 in West Virginia looks like it's four-laned. Are there a lot of annoying traffic lights and small speedtrap towns and the like?)

(1a) Same as above but instead of US-35, go to Columbus and use US-33 to Athens.

(2) Same as either of above but continue east on US-50 either all the way into Virginia or else to an intermediate point like US-219 or US-220. I've used the part of US-50 from Romney to Winchester in the past and traffic was light and the drive was scenic, but I have to concede it was a bit slow at times.

(3) Continue southeast on US-35 past Chillicothe and cross into West Virginia at Point Pleasant. Then pick up I-64 and take that road into Virginia and then return home either via our normal route to and from Charlottesville or else suck it up and take I-81 to I-66.

(4) Similar to above but instead of continuing on I-64 at Charleston, take I-79 to Weston and then hook east on US-33 past Seneca Rocks (been past there perhaps 20 years ago and remember it being very scenic). Then perhaps take a left and pick up US-48 into Virginia to avoid going as far south as Harrisonburg.

I should add that when it comes to my various detours and scenic routes, my wife is willing to put up with SOME added time if the ride is indeed scenic, but she gets quite annoyed if the added time is substantial. (The time I made a wrong turn in Colorado that led us 125 miles out of the way is perhaps one reason why she feels that way. Guess I can't blame her.) So part of what I'm interested in getting comments about is how much longer these various routes might take. Obviously Google Maps or Bing Maps or whatever can give you a mileage and time estimate based on the posted speed limits, but I'm interested in more of a real-world comment if anyone can give such—that is, "avoid such-and-such route because invariably you get stuck behind slow-moving locals and there are no passing zones," or "this route is bad because there are constant traffic lights." In other words, practical stuff that no mapping software can tell you.

I like driving the twisty mountain roads with the six-speed manual shift, but I don't enjoy getting stuck for extended periods behind some yokel in a pickup who goes 30 mph around all the twisties but floors it whenever you get to a passing zone!

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.


--- Quote from: 1995hoo on September 24, 2012, 10:33:35 AM ---
(1a) Same as above but instead of US-35, go to Columbus and use US-33 to Athens.

--- End quote ---
This route will run into construction of the Nelsonville bypass. Eastbound US 33 currently follows old US 33 through town with a new roundabout which routes westbound traffic onto part of the bypass which is open westbound. This is interesting from a roadgeek standpoint, but there may be an extra slowdown from the construction.

US 50 between Chillicothe and the OH 32 intersection is a blah two-lane, but it's closer than taking US 35 all the way down to OH 32.

US 50 between Parkersburg and Clarksburg is a easy drive at 65 mph. Not sure how many traffic lights there are, but there aren't many. Beyond I-79, US 50 is agonizing in my opinion. There are more scenic routes across the mountains.

I'd suggest two options for a combination of scenery and roadgeeking. First is US 33 east from I-79 all the way to Harrisonburg. Second would be US 33 to US 219 to WV 93, and then make your way up to Corridor H and follow that back to I-81 (which you mentioned as a possibility).

Hot Rod Hootenanny:
For Roadgeek entertainment, I'd suggest the US 33/US 50 combo from Columbus on down to West Virginia.
There is construction (at the moment) at the US 33/I-270 SE interchange, and the forementioned congestion around Nelsonville.
FWIW, there is only two traffic lights along US 50 between Chillicothe (US 23) and Clarksburg WVa (I-79) and those traffic lights are at the interchange with I-77 outside of Parkersburg.

Thanks, folks. I'll spend some more time with the maps to ponder it further. The real question is going to be balancing the time factor. I think the idea of going through Parkersburg will be easy enough to sell because it doesn't add much time (at least, not according to the mapping software) and it's the part east of I-79 where I might have a harder time getting away with going exploring.


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