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Old 10-29-2014, 09:54 AM   #1
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KS to GA - avoid steep grades

My family and I are planning an extended winter vacation to Savannah Georgia. We have a 31 foot winnebago outlook and plan to tow a car. We've taken a few long range trips in our RV but this will be our first driving trip to this part of the country, I was reading message boards and it sounds like we want to avoid chattanooga due to the steep grades. Here's a post from Wikkipedia that sounds pretty scary.

One of the more hazardous stretches of Interstate highway in the United States[citation needed] is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Chattanooga on I-24 in Monteagle, where the highway crosses the Cumberland Plateau. Compared to grades elsewhere, Monteagle's 46% grade does not come close to the steepest (Interstate 40 between Nashville and Knoxville features 5% grades in each direction as well as a 5% grade north of Nashville on 24, near Joelton), but the slope is protracted over a distance of several miles. While all motorists need to exercise caution, truckers are particularly vexed by Monteagle, and many have died going through this area.

Needless to say, we want to avoid this area. As an alternative we have tentatively mapped out this route:

Ne -> Kansas City via I-29
Kansas City -> St Louis, MO via I-70
St Louis, MO -> Mt Vernon, IL via I-64
Mt Vernon, IL -> Nashville, TN via I-24
Nashville, TN -> Birmingham, AL via I-65
Birmingham, AL -> Atlanta, GA via I-20
Atlanta, GA -> Savannah, GA via I-75/16

We have also considered this route
Ne -> Kansas City via I-29
Kansas City -> Springfield, MO via I- 49
Springfield, MO -> Memphis, TN via HWY 60/63
Memphis, TN -> Birmingham, AL via HWY 78 which appears to turn into I- 22
Atlanta, GA -> Savannah, GA via I-75/16

any thoughts you may have would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:19 AM   #2
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If it were me, I'd use the first route. Interstate all the way. But I like interstates to get me places quicker, others like the more scenic routes.
Having said that, Monteagle is drivable in a MH if you just pay attention to how you're driving. Down shift, use stab braking, and be sure to not ride your brakes the whole way down, and you'll be fine. That article seems a little overblown to me.
How much time does the I-40 to I-24 route save over the others?
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:30 AM   #3
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You've probably already thought of this, but I'd plan my arrival time in Atlanta carefully. Traffic can be a booger around here, and your route will take you on some pretty heavily trafficked roads. I don't mind driving the MH in traffic (just pick a lane and let the others play "weave from lane to lane to save two seconds" in front of me), but it can add a TON of time to your trip.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:49 AM   #4
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Your 2nd choice is a nice drive, 78 is interstate quality, need to add a leg from Birmingham to Atlanta. However; Monteagle is not all that bad, it's a bigger "tug" Eastbound than Westbound. You don't say what chassis you have, I ran it both ways last month in high gear, OD off, 3000 rpm, 55 mph. 2 or 3 hard brake stabs to shave a little down hill speed off on the Eastbound downhill. Keep hands and feet inside until the ride comes to a full stop.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:57 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by jeffwit View Post
If it were me, I'd use the first route. Interstate all the way. But I like interstates to get me places quicker, others like the more scenic routes.
Having said that, Monteagle is drivable in a MH if you just pay attention to how you're driving. Down shift, use stab braking, and be sure to not ride your brakes the whole way down, and you'll be fine. That article seems a little overblown to me.
How much time does the I-40 to I-24 route save over the others?
Thanks for the tip! Looking at google maps, it appears the route through memphis is actually a little longer. Yes I prefer interstates as well.
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Old 10-29-2014, 10:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebelkitty View Post
My family and I are planning an extended winter vacation to Savannah Georgia. We have a 31 foot winnebago outlook and plan to tow a car. We've taken a few long range trips in our RV but this will be our first driving trip to this part of the country, I was reading message boards and it sounds like we want to avoid chattanooga due to the steep grades. Here's a post from Wikkipedia that sounds pretty scary.



One of the more hazardous stretches of Interstate highway in the United States[citation needed] is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Chattanooga on I-24 in Monteagle, where the highway crosses the Cumberland Plateau. Compared to grades elsewhere, Monteagle's 46% grade does not come close to the steepest (Interstate 40 between Nashville and Knoxville features 5% grades in each direction as well as a 5% grade north of Nashville on 24, near Joelton), but the slope is protracted over a distance of several miles. While all motorists need to exercise caution, truckers are particularly vexed by Monteagle, and many have died going through this area.



Needless to say, we want to avoid this area. As an alternative we have tentatively mapped out this route:



Ne -> Kansas City via I-29

Kansas City -> St Louis, MO via I-70

St Louis, MO -> Mt Vernon, IL via I-64

Mt Vernon, IL -> Nashville, TN via I-24

Nashville, TN -> Birmingham, AL via I-65

Birmingham, AL -> Atlanta, GA via I-20

Atlanta, GA -> Savannah, GA via I-75/16



We have also considered this route

Ne -> Kansas City via I-29

Kansas City -> Springfield, MO via I- 49

Springfield, MO -> Memphis, TN via HWY 60/63

Memphis, TN -> Birmingham, AL via HWY 78 which appears to turn into I- 22

Atlanta, GA -> Savannah, GA via I-75/16



any thoughts you may have would be appreciated!



Thanks in advance.

The biggest issue with Monteagle Mtn is not the grade but the fairly curvy roadway and fog which can also be encountered frequently.

There is a third option which you might consider:

I40 east from Nashville to Asheville
126 east to I95 south.

The Pigeon River gorge in the area of the TN-NC border on I40 is very scenic with some short grades. There is a several mile long 6-7% grade on I26 close to the NC/SC border but it's fairly straight and no issue for a careful driver.


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Old 10-29-2014, 11:25 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brockx View Post
Your 2nd choice is a nice drive, 78 is interstate quality, need to add a leg from Birmingham to Atlanta. However; Monteagle is not all that bad, it's a bigger "tug" Eastbound than Westbound. You don't say what chassis you have, I ran it both ways last month in high gear, OD off, 3000 rpm, 55 mph. 2 or 3 hard brake stabs to shave a little down hill speed off on the Eastbound downhill. Keep hands and feet inside until the ride comes to a full stop.
Thanks - yes I did forget the leg from Birmingham to Atlanta.
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Old 10-29-2014, 11:31 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Steve Ownby View Post
The biggest issue with Monteagle Mtn is not the grade but the fairly curvy roadway and fog which can also be encountered frequently.

There is a third option which you might consider:

I40 east from Nashville to Asheville
126 east to I95 south.

The Pigeon River gorge in the area of the TN-NC border on I40 is very scenic with some short grades. There is a several mile long 6-7% grade on I26 close to the NC/SC border but it's fairly straight and no issue for a careful driver.


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Full time since '07

Thanks Steve - That would allow us to avoid Atlanta all together. I did read that there is a pretty good incline between Nashville and Knoxville?
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Old 10-29-2014, 11:41 AM   #9
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Thanks Steve - That would allow us to avoid Atlanta all together. I did read that there is a pretty good incline between Nashville and Knoxville?

There is one long down grade between Crab Orchard and Harriman, TN. it's not significantly steep being in the 5-6% range and fairly straight. Again, no issue for a careful driver.


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Old 10-29-2014, 11:44 AM   #10
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Our last trip was a loop through KS, CO, NM, AZ, UT and NE. While our companions (driving a Titan, pulling a 35 foot TT) did not encounter any issues, we really had issues driving I-70 around the pass and Eisenhower tunnel in CO. It was extremely frustrating because we just crawled up the inclines. We weren't towing a vehicle. I am trying to avoid that situation this time, especially given the fact that we will be towing a vehicle.

Also, because other people in our group have time constraints, we plan to skip the sight seeing on the way down to allow them more time in GA before they have to return home. It'll be just the two of us on the way back so we can plan a more leisurely trek. The trip appears to be just over 20 hours via google maps - but is it realistic to plan more in the neighborhood of 25-26 hours? Pre planning, as we'll need a motel room for some of the group - there's only so much room in our RV.
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Old 10-31-2014, 04:08 PM   #11
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Do you know about the "elevation" feature of Google Earth?

For example, select [Get Directions] ... then enter PtA and PtB ... after the route comes up in blue ... right click on the route ... [Show elevation profile] displays ... left click on that ... then move the cursor along the route it shows two things; feet above sea level as well the grade ...

You can do this for all the legs of your proposed route.

It not unusual for "flat-lander's" vehicles to have trouble in the vicinity of the Eisenhower tunnel on I-70 because of the elevation ... modern fuel injection engines do better than old carburetor engines ... something about fuel/air mixture ... you will not be dealing with nearly the elevation challenge you experienced in the Rockies. And the 6% grades will be MUCH shorter, too!!!!
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Old 10-31-2014, 04:11 PM   #12
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That sure makes me feel better! I am going to check out google earth as well. Thanks so much for the tip!
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