stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
7/6/21 9:27 a.m.

I'm traveling from Tennessee to Watkins Glen this week for the HSR race.  I'm in a 33 ft class A motorhome towing my trailer.  Google maps is showing me two routes through Pennsylvania and I am wondering which would be more friendly for my rig.  I'm looking for advice from anyone who has traveled in this area.

One route is I-81 to just west of Harrisburg where it heads north along US-15.  Pretty simple and straightforward, but US-15 is not interstate highway.

The other route heads off of I-81 onto I-70 in Hagerstown MD and then up I-76 to I-99 to I-80 to US-220 and meets back with US-15 in Williamsport PA.

I have taken the US-15 route from Harrisburg once upon a time, many years ago, but not towing anything, and really can't remember how the roads were.  I have never been on this I-76/I-99 route before.  I also know the I-81 from Hagerstown to Harrisburg is no big deal.

My motorhome is a Ford V10, not a diesel, so while it does OK on hills, I prefer the flattest route.  An extra hour on the road isn't a big deal.

Any/all suggestions are welcomed.

Thanks!

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/6/21 9:48 a.m.

I have no direct experience with the PA routes but here is a visual representation...

I would avoid the middle route shown.  The West Virginia portion has a lot of hill and turn.  

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/6/21 9:59 a.m.

If you ask on IRV2 you will find a lot more feedback. RV owners are constantly agonizing about hills! 

Carsandbikes
Carsandbikes Reader
7/6/21 3:49 p.m.

My family lives in northeastern Pennsylvania, but I haven't been able to get up there in nearly 2 years.  The worst part about the 15 route is Sellingsgrove(?) .  You run into a section of slow moving traffic with numerous traffic signals.  Then north of Lewisburg you have steep hills unless you take the I 180 bypass around to Williamsport.   From there on, pretty smooth sailing.

Your big question mark for that route is the Sellingsgrove part.  And if you don't mind 6-8 traffic lights in 5-6 miles...

I have drive the 81 to 76 route, too, but when I drove it (6 years ago) there was lots of construction (probably finished) and several long hills.

Oops, forgot, I think you can take an exit for 15 just before Harrisburg...do not take that route, take 322 (hope that is the right route number, Google says its 22?) north on the east side of the river then get back on 15.  Be careful when transitioning from 22 back on to 15, the interchange is narrowish and has pretty much no exit ramp.  The good news tho is that traffic is usually light on the 15 part.  I have driven up to the New York state border on 15 and don't remember any steep hills after Williamsport. 

BTW, there is a dairy queen-type restaurant (the Blue? Bunny) outside Duncannon, it is supposed to be a good place to grab a burger.  I have never eaten there, but have wanted to.  It is only open weekends.

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
7/6/21 4:39 p.m.

Interstate, if for no other reason other than having places to stop where you can actually turn around or pull through to exit. 

68TR250
68TR250 Reader
7/6/21 4:59 p.m.

If you get on 15 south of Thurrmont, MD you will pass my Alma Mater.  But you will probably hit it around Harrisburg.  81 is a miserable road. The last time we drove it ( 2 years ago) there was unending construction and accidents that added 3 hours to our ride.  We have tried it 3 times and every time it has sucked.  Never again.

WAZE is your friend.   Believe it when it tells you to get off.

Carsandbikes
Carsandbikes Reader
7/6/21 5:14 p.m.

In reply to captdownshift (Forum Supporter) :

Except for the bottlenecks in Duncannon, where you transition from 22 back to 15 and then Selingsgrove, 15 is pretty much 4 lanes until at least the New York state border.  In contrast, I 76 has steep hills and scattered small towns.  If my priority was a flat route, 81-22-15-I 80-I 180-15 , is fairly flat and all 4 lanes unless there has been construction I don't know about.

03Panther
03Panther UltraDork
7/6/21 5:19 p.m.

When we could still travel, my wife had found a website that would show the flattest route to travel. Gave the info in a few forms, as well ; including a graph. It helped us a few times, and surprised me a few times as well. Pretty cool. If google doesn't find it easy, let me know. 

Don49 (Forum Supporter)
Don49 (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/6/21 5:35 p.m.

81 to 15, at Sunbury stay on RT11 and go to 1st traffic light, go left. It will take you to Williamsport bypassing all the big hills on 15. I just did thi toe with my 44' gooseneck trailer and other than the traffic lights in Selinsgrove it's not a bad tow.

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
7/6/21 9:53 p.m.

Thanks everyone for the feedback.  I'm currently sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Staunton VA for overnight having gone about half way to Watkins Glen.  Today's trip wasn't horrible, except for the HOUR that I spent on I-75 just before Knoxville in stupid traffic because they closed a lane to mow the grass.... ARGHH.  It is absolutely astounding how many trucks are on the highway on a given day.  Incredible.  I had forgotten how hilly it was from Bristol to Roanoke on I-81.  The ol' V10 got quite a workout but I managed to get 7.25 miles per gallon for the first 425 miles.  I can't imagine that PA is any worse, but I guess I will find out tomorrow.  With the hive's feedback I think I will tackle the US15 route, but try US22 to US15 just north of Ducannon.  It looks like I can jump over the river to I-180 via I-80 and that should be a better ride to Williamsport than staying on US15 which appears to climb over a pretty significant ridge.  I'll take another look in the AM and set a course and go.. wooden ships on the water and all that.....  if your old enough, you'll understand...

Thanks again for the input!

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
7/6/21 9:55 p.m.
Don49 (Forum Supporter) said:

81 to 15, at Sunbury stay on RT11 and go to 1st traffic light, go left. It will take you to Williamsport bypassing all the big hills on 15. I just did thi toe with my 44' gooseneck trailer and other than the traffic lights in Selinsgrove it's not a bad tow

I looked at that and thought the exact same thing.  I think I will give that a try rather than go all the way to I-80 on US15.  Thanks!

 

Uncle David (Forum Supporter)
Uncle David (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/7/21 7:30 p.m.

Using Google Maps Street View seems to show that 15 is 4 lane and limited access from Harrisburg until it becomes I-99.  Also, 15 follows the river, which should minimize big hills. I think I'd follow Google's recommendation and take 81 and 15 and 99.

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
7/7/21 8:09 p.m.

Well, I made it safe and sound.  DId the Don49 trick which worked great.  They are paving I-180, but the traffic is so light that it didn't make any difference.  US15 from Mansfield to the NY state line is like climbing Everest and decending two or three times.  The road is great, the hills are massive.  Even so, only once did the RV have to drop down to second to pull the hill, and that was in 95 degree heat.  The trans temp gauge only hit 180 once, and it was during that pull.  Otherwise, 150 to 160, fat and happy.  Say what you will, but that Ford 2-valve V10 along with a 4 speed automatic might be primitive, but it gets the job done.

Of course, as soon as we were within a few miles of the track, the clouds rolled in and it started to rain.  And right now it is pouring cats and dogs.  Tomorrow, test day, is going to be really wet.  Oh, well....

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/7/21 8:21 p.m.

We have driven Motorhomes to WGI so many times.   I still think the old unit with the V-10 was the best.

You overnighted in Staunton, we usually try to make it to Winchester.  wink

Do you have a Towd behind that RV?  There is so much to see and do in the Watkins Glen area.  I hope you have time to do a little sightseeing.  Still Mrs. Frog's favorite racing destination in the U.S. of A.   The restaurant and bar at the Seneca Lodge, Wineries galore, the State Park and waterfalls. the racing museum, etc,. etc.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/7/21 8:22 p.m.

This is my neighborhood.  I live in Harrisburg.

Either one should suit fine.  Route 15 to Williamsport is not bad, but certainly not interstate.  You get long stretches of flat 4-lane as it follows the river.  It's not interstate, so there are left-turn lanes, some stop lights, and plenty of adult stores.

As you get further north toward Allenwood, 15 cuts away from the river and you do go over one mountain.  It's not steep, and not curvy.  Once you reach the bottom you do go through South Williamsport with a couple traffic lights, but nothing that prevents you taking a large vehicle.  It's a pretty frequent trucking route, and it is large-vehicle friendly... as evidenced by the 13'6" x 53' tractor trailer in this street view.

Once you get north of Williamsport, 15 is very interstate-ish.  4-lane, limited access, exit ramps, etc.

 

If you're looking for the most direct route and don't mind some 4-lane, in-town stuff, don't shy away from 15.  It is perfectly RV-friendly.  If you are someone who craves interstate-type driving, you can do the 81/70/99 route.  I've done it many times.  Don't do the turnpike (76) part.  70 will take you to Breezewood, then it will tell you to take the Turnpike one exit to Bedford to get 99.  And they'll likely charge you $6 to go 15 miles.  Take US30.  It is totally RV-friendly.  30 takes you south of Bedford so you never really need to do much town or stoplights, and it looks a lot like the first picture I posted in this response.  Then you get 99 to the south of Bedford so you never have to deal with streets.  Long story short... if you go that way, replace the segment of 76 with US30 instead.  Save the turnpike money and buy yourself a beer/soda in Watkins Glen when you get there.  I have family in Bedford and I drive there 5 times a year.  I take the turnpike to Breezewood/70 and then take 30 the rest of the way because it saves me a few dollars and only costs 3 minutes of time.

I also agree with John Welsh.  The jaunt that takes you up 79 through WV is berkeleying gorgeous... and berkeleying painful.  So many mountains.  Up, then down, then up.... not that you aren't familiar with hills, I just don't see the need to spend the gasoline and brake pads on all that hillery (that's a real word)

Boiling it down to my recommendation.  I-81 is your huckleberry up to Hagerstown.  From there

- if you crave all interstate, take 70 to Breezewood, 30 (or money for 76) to Bedford, and 99 up to the strange madness of highway numbering around Williamsport.  It will take a bit longer time that way, but it's all big roads.
- if you want to shave time (but have some towns and stoplights sometimes) keep on 81 to Harrisburg and take the 15 route.

My recommendation... take 15.  Shorter time (by maybe half hour) and only mild inconvenience.

If you happen to choose the Harrisburg/15 option, My driveway would be about a 9-minute deviation.  If you need anything, PM me.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/7/21 8:43 p.m.
Carsandbikes said:

My family lives in northeastern Pennsylvania, but I haven't been able to get up there in nearly 2 years.  The worst part about the 15 route is Sellingsgrove(?) .  You run into a section of slow moving traffic with numerous traffic signals.  Then north of Lewisburg you have steep hills unless you take the I 180 bypass around to Williamsport.   From there on, pretty smooth sailing.

Your big question mark for that route is the Sellingsgrove part.  And if you don't mind 6-8 traffic lights in 5-6 miles...

I have drive the 81 to 76 route, too, but when I drove it (6 years ago) there was lots of construction (probably finished) and several long hills.

Oops, forgot, I think you can take an exit for 15 just before Harrisburg...do not take that route, take 322 (hope that is the right route number, Google says its 22?) north on the east side of the river then get back on 15.  Be careful when transitioning from 22 back on to 15, the interchange is narrowish and has pretty much no exit ramp.  The good news tho is that traffic is usually light on the 15 part.  I have driven up to the New York state border on 15 and don't remember any steep hills after Williamsport. 

BTW, there is a dairy queen-type restaurant (the Blue? Bunny) outside Duncannon, it is supposed to be a good place to grab a burger.  I have never eaten there, but have wanted to.  It is only open weekends.

The 322 exit is a nice detour and gets you some additional non-rural sections of road, but it's only really 10 miles or so.  To paint the picture:

322 looks like this for that 10 miles:

15 looks like this for the first 5 miles:

Then looks like this for the last 5 miles:

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/7/21 8:43 p.m.

We run our motorhome up 81 from TN to Harrisburg to get to WGI, and on up to 84 to get to Lime Rock.   Yes, as reported it is the busiest truck highway in the nation.  We don't find that a problem.  In fact sometimes it's advantage to be able to draft the RV on the back of 53' trailers.   smiley  I find open-road truckers to be easier to deal with than many civilians.  Just saying.

I totlly agree with John and Curtis about 79 in WV.  Did it in April.  In the motorhome.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt... never again in a RV.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/7/21 8:52 p.m.

... and by the way, in my screen snips...

 Welcome to PA, where the roads always have about 3 route numbers associated with them, they change every time you blink.  US 15 is actually 11 and 15.  322 is actually 22/322.  We like to keep it confusing.  It's not that apocalyptic, but even GPS can be confusing and tell you one thing while expecting another.  At least it's not as bad as 75/85 in Atlanta.  I've driven in third-world countries with no lines on a 9-lane-wide road, and I had an easier time than Atlanta.

The main drag near my house is Jonestown Rd.  If you turn left and go a few blocks, it's Walnut St, then State St, then Walnut St again.  If you turn right and go a few blocks, it's Allentown Blvd.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/7/21 9:02 p.m.
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) said:

We run our motorhome up 81 from TN to Harrisburg to get to WGI, and on up to 84 to get to Lime Rock.   Yes, as reported it is the busiest truck highway in the nation.  We don't find that a problem.  In fact sometimes it's advantage to be able to draft the RV on the back of 53' trailers.   smiley  I find open-road truckers to be easier to deal with than many civilians.  Just saying.

I totlly agree with John and Curtis about 79 in WV.  Did it in April.  In the motorhome.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt... never again in a RV.

Truthfully, I'm one of those who usually doesn't care about speed and interstate, but I understand the OP is about getting to and from the race without encumbrance and BS.  But that section on 79 just south of Beckley WV is my nemesis.  There was a time I could almost predict the barometric pressure by what speed my 45' coach bus with a 6v92 could maintain going up Great Flat Top mountain.  36 mph was a pretty high barometer.  30mph, not so much.

I have traveled the entire length of I-81 north to south.  You get typical construction and slow-downs, but it's rare that it stops.  It just seems like you get on it and it goes.  Coming back from the challenge last year, I specifically cut over to take 81 home and skip the craziness of 95

Carsandbikes
Carsandbikes Reader
7/8/21 6:31 p.m.

In reply to stukndapast :

YIKES, and sorry to hear Mansfield to the NY state line was so steep, I haven't been that direction since I don't know when.  I was afraid that as you got within a few miles of Watkins Glen you would find a few long hills.  

I considered telling you to use the same route through the Sunbury area as Don49, but the last few times that I have taken that route I have seen truck drivers struggle at that turn in Sunbury.  Besides, the route thro Lewisburg would have been all 4 lane.

Glad it all worked out.

 

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
7/8/21 9:18 p.m.

Thanks again for everyone's input.  The route I took wasn't so bad.  There are a lot of pretty steep, sustained hills that put a heavy rig to the test, but the lack of traffic and the "goodness" of the road make it the right choice for me.  I would much rather hear that V10 screaming at 4000 RPM pulling a hill pretty much by myself than being stuck in a logjam of 18 wheelers whose net progress is determined by the acceleration rate of the heaviest, slowest individual.  The SWMBO has relatives in Alexandria Bay, NY, and that area is where we are headed after the race.  I have driven I-81 from its start in Tennessee to its end at Alex Bay more times than I care to, but primarily in a passenger vehicle, not in my race rig.  I always dreaded the thought of making that trip with the RV and racecar.  I really do think the I-81/US-22/US-15/I-99 route worked best for me.  Now if there was something that NY state could do about those last few miles from Corning to the glen on 414 it would be sweet. 

So, all is well and I was able to run three 30 minute test day sessions in DRY CONDITIONS!!!!! I never would have thought that would be possible when I went to bed on Wednesday night.  But it worked out. 

WGI is a tough track, and it has taken me every lap to settle onto a decent line, with the major exception of turn 9.  That turn has risen to the top rank in my scariest, most difficult turn on any track I have run on.  What a nut-buster that one is.  No mercy if you mess up.  Turn 11 isn't much more comforting.  All in all it makes Road Atlanta's walls seem almost benign.

Hoping tomorrow's weather cooperates like it did today.

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