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Author Topic: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours  (Read 3475 times)

J N Winkler

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Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« on: August 03, 2014, 12:52:11 AM »

I am planning a car trip up to Seattle to see friends and am writing to ask for advice on good scenic alternatives to the all-Interstate route (I-135, I-70, I-25, I-80, I-84, I-82, I-90).  Casual inspection of possible alternate routes in Google Maps tells me that it is very hard to beat in terms of distance travelled, but I don't want to drive it the whole way.  The speed limits are too high:  my little car has only four gears and is ferociously thirsty at 75 MPH.  Moreover, about half of the route, including Wichita to Denver (I-135, I-70) and Pendleton to Tremonton (I-84), is already familiar from previous trips.

Right now I am considering alternate two-lane routes between Denver and Rawlins (US 40 and SR 125 in Colorado, SR 230 and SR 130 in Wyoming), and between Little America and Tremonton (US 30/SR 30 in Wyoming and Utah), but I am stumped for good alternatives to I-84 in Idaho.  (See map.)  Is it workable to detour as far south as the Owyhee country (which I haven't visited), or as far north as Hells Canyon (ditto)?

In Washington state I don't have a pressing need for advice on how to avoid I-82 since I haven't driven it and WSDOT SRView suggests it is actually quite scenic climbing out of the Columbia River valley.  However, I am open to recommendations as to Cascade passes.  I have only ever done SR 20, parts of US 12 and SR 410 (I visited Mount Rainier), and never I-90 (Snoqualmie) or US 2 (Stevens).

In terms of added mileage, I think I would be prepared to accept about 10% over the all-Interstate route, and possibly more if the detours had good scenic value.  Google Maps quotes 1823 miles for the direct all-Interstate route, 1879 miles for a calculated route that passes through I-25's north end in Wyoming, and 2049 miles for another calculated route that passes through I-70's west end in Utah.

I'd be much obliged for any advice.
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US81

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2014, 10:28:27 AM »

I wish I had advice to offer. Instead, I just wanted to share my hope that you will share pics and narrative of your trip.
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nexus73

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2014, 10:52:25 AM »

The real scenic part of I-82 is when you are a few miles south of Ellensburg WA and heading north.  You will think you are in an aircraft getting ready to land in the Kittitas Valley.  There are other nice parts that are dramatic in their own right but this view is the best one IMO.

Best wishes in finding a route that you like!

Rick

Rick
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US71

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2014, 02:52:27 PM »

Without detours? What's the fun in that? Some of my best photos come from "detours"  :bigass:
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CtrlAltDel

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2014, 06:40:24 PM »

Best I can think of is to get on US-283 near Wichita and take it north to I-90. Then drive I-90 west for a while, getting on US-212 a bit past Rapid City. You'll meet up with I-90 again. Take that to Billings, where you'll swing up to US-12. At Helena, get back on I-90 yet again until you hit Spokane, then get on US-2 for the rest of the way.

That gives me about 1,900 miles or so, of which about a third are on the interstate. It’s a bit of a roundabout route, but it compares pretty well to some of the other routes you mentioned. However, it goes nowhere near I-82.
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corco

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2014, 06:58:31 PM »

Another option would be to just take US 12 the entire way from Billings to Yakima if you went that northern route, and that's probably what I'd recommend for scenery/interestingness. Then hop on 82/90. If you've done White and Chinook Passes, Snoqualmie is as good as any for new scenery. That might be my choice if it's tenable for you.


As far as a southern route- honestly, south of I-84 just isn't that interesting. What I'd do in Idaho is something like this - http://goo.gl/maps/mEiNR adjusting as necessary to meet your time requirements (possible places to cut time- use Idaho 52 instead of going to McCall, but that's a big scenery hit. take Oregon 86 to I-84 would probably be my choice instead of going up into Joseph).  The goog says 16 hours, but I'd bet 14 at a still-leisurely pace. That's an insanely beautiful drive- the Banks/Lowman Rd is basically a state highway, I'm really not sure why ITD isn't the one maintaining it. The forest service road from the Oxbow Dam up to Joseph, OR is also paved and quite scenic.

If you really just like sagebrush, US 30/Idaho 78 around south of I-84 is doable, but probably not too much value added over using the interstate. One note- if you do something involving southern Idaho, be aware that while the road from Snowville, UT to Rockville, ID is paved, but is in pretty rough shape.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2014, 07:04:56 PM by corco »
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jakeroot

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2014, 09:29:28 PM »

I am very boring and thus almost always use Interstates; I am not very familiar with two-lane state/US routes, so I can't help you there. But if you do take I-90, do be aware that Snoqualmie Pass is being widened and improved, and only on the weekends are things relatively quiet. During the weekdays, there can be huge waits to cross the pass. Lane closures are constant and usually snarl traffic. I'd recommend following WSDOT's "What's Happening" page for I-90 to see exactly what they will be doing upon your arrival, should you choose to take it.

Do be aware, however, if speed is an issue: I just drove today from Yakima to Tacoma using 82 to 90, and at times, our speeds reached 85 or greater. This is fairly unusual for Washington (most drivers are relatively conservative) but the recent lack of rain means the roads are very safe at the moment and, other than an occasional thunderstorm (which usually contains virga anyways), it's almost always sunny. Both of these factor into an increase in overall traffic speed, as you might imagine. And this isn't to say that you couldn't fit in with the trucks just fine, especially on 90 (stay right, please), but on 82, where it's only two lanes, try to only make your passes when there isn't traffic. I saw some road rage today from a classic car (which had just participated in the Vintiques auto show at the Yakima fair) attempting to overtake a semi as a Suburban was approaching from behind -- needless to say, the Suburban was not happy and many obscene gestures followed.
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rschen7754

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2014, 11:22:31 PM »

On some Montana 2-lane highways, the speed limit is 70.

I-90 also has that steep climb just east of the Columbia River. Very scenic, but a bit sharp...
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J N Winkler

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Re: Wichita to Seattle two-lane without egregious detours
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2014, 02:48:36 PM »

I want to thank those who posted to share their experience and suggestions.

After some consideration, I have decided to go for a southern route:

http://goo.gl/eCDPwy

The northern route was very tempting, but I have decided to reserve it for a future trip since a fair amount of it is already familiar to me from previous trips, and the southern route seemed to offer more diversity in terms of terrain and climate zones.
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