When planning a road trip, you must take the safest journey possible. There are different things to consider when mapping out the route, but one that is of utmost importance during certain times of the year is avoiding treacherous mountain landscapes.
Here’s how to avoid driving through the mountains on a road trip:
- Choose a location that is nowhere near the mountains.
- Plan a shorter road trip to avoid mountains.
- Plan your drive with tools that help you find a flat route.
- Choose a route that sticks to freeways only until your destination.
- Plan a road trip through smaller mountains on I-10.
While it might be impossible to avoid mountains on a cross-country road trip, there are ways to minimize exposure to extreme elevation change and inclement weather associated with enormous mountains. This article will discuss some strategies for avoiding mountains on a road trip to find a safer passage during the winter months.
1. Choose a Location That Is Nowhere Near the Mountains
One way to avoid mountains on a road trip altogether is to plan a vacation that is nowhere near any mountains of any kind. Considering that there are several places in the United States that are somewhat flat, you have several options of avoiding mountainous regions.
Depending on where you live, avoiding mountains could involve a road trip through:
- Major cities
Many destinations throughout the United States are nowhere close to mountains.
If you live in the Midwest or the Southern United States, this may be easier to accomplish than in other parts. For instance, you could drive from Minnesota to Chicago with no mountains, or from Wisconsin down to New Orleans with a maximum elevation of 909’ (277 m).
2. Plan a Shorter Road Trip To Completely Avoid Mountains
There are many road trips you can choose throughout the United States to avoid mountains if you choose your location carefully. Avoiding elevation change is much easier to do if you stick to a particular region of the country, keeping your road trip short.
A shorter road trip can help you pick the particular terrain you want to encounter.
There are numerous routes you can take from most states that would allow you to avoid mountains. For instance, if you live in a large state like California or Texas, consider traveling to another area of the state on a route that doesn’t have mountains.
Planning a road trip within your state is a great way to learn more about where you live. You’ll discover places that you didn’t know about, and it is a great way to have the thrill of a road trip while staying in the comfort of your state of residence.
3. Plan Your Drive With Tools That Help You Find a Flat Route
You can use various tools to plan a road trip that avoids mountains.
One of the best things you can do before a road trip is to get a map. Gone are the days when you buy a physical map at the gas station. There are numerous high-quality options online, but you could also pick up a physical copy before your trip if you have any areas you drive through without cell phone reception.
Google Maps is the best-known and most reliable option for an online map tool for your drive.
They have various excellent features, including one that shows you the terrain of your road trip. It’s a handy option that can assist you in finding a route that contains fewer mountains and elevation changes.
Another good tool is Flattest Route, which is a search engine that helps find routes with minor elevation changes. It is an excellent option because it will have alternative ways available, and it tells you how much extra time is associated with these detours.
4. Choose a Route That Sticks to Freeways Only Until Your Destination
Another way to plan a road trip while avoiding mountains is to stick with freeways as much as possible instead of highways. While some freeways pass through mountains, especially if traveling across the country, it is much easier to avoid treacherous mountain roads by staying on the freeway.
Depending on where you are, some highways can make scary mountain climbs that are very dangerous during certain months of the year.
These may include:
- Significant elevation changes
- Narrow lanes
- Slippery roads
- Hazards like:
- High winds
- Falling rocks
- Avalanches during the wintertime
The best way to avoid some of these dangers is to stick to a major freeway. While you still need to pass through mountains depending on your route, it is much safer to do so on a freeway than on specific highways and roads.
5. Plan a Road Trip Through Smaller Mountains on I-10
If you want to avoid mountains on your road trip but travel across the country, your best option is Interstate 10, which will take you from Florida to California, and it avoids mountains almost entirely.
There is some elevation change when you get to the western states, but it is far less mountainous than other interstate options for the cross-country trek.
The highest elevation is 5000’ (1524 m) above sea level, but there are not the same dramatic elevation changes on other routes cross-country. I-10 is your best choice if you have to get from coast to coast but want to do so with minor mountain passes possible.
Recap: How to Avoid Driving Through the Mountains on a Road Trip
Planning a road trip involves preparation, and one crucial factor to consider is the terrain. Planning a route that avoids the mountains can be significant depending on the time of year you are making your drive.
Here are a few ways to avoid driving through the mountains on a road trip.
- Stay local: Plan a road trip where you are familiar with the topography.
- Use tools: Select from online resources for mapping out your trip.
Choose freeways: If you stick to freeways, you have a much better chance of not having to pass through dangerous inclines and harsh weather conditions.