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  • Driving Across the Southern USA


    Ron Jones
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    There are many routes you can take when crossing the USA or Canada. We have made the east/west trip across the southern USA numerous times because we spend the holidays (Thanksgiving through Christmas) in North Texas (in Denton, TX) for annual medical stuff and family visits and then head to Florida. We have done this about a dozen times. Occasionally, we head west from Denton and have also returned to the North Texas area (Denton) from the west. Regardless, here are some good suggestions when you need to make the trip.

    We use Denton, Texas as a destination (or starting place) for two reasons. First, it was our home prior to fulltiming. Second, going through Denton allows you to bypass Dallas (and all that traffic) but continue to be close to a major east/west route. Take a look at a map of Texas. I-20 is the main east/west route across the upper (northern) part of Texas and I-10 does the same thing in the southern part of Texas. While the two Interstate routes join in West Texas, that is a long way from Dallas or Houston.

    Denton to Florida

    We have attended several Gatherings so if you drive to Florida from Texas (or return) and want to stay on an Interstate highway, I-10 is the choice in the far south. You can leave Texas on I-20 into northern Louisiana but at some point, have to go south to get to Florida. I suggest a slightly different route. My suggested route is a bit shorter than using an Interstate all the way. The highways I use are good with four-lane most of the way and typical traffic. We have driven this route multiple times and in two different Class A motorhomes. The first was a 42’ Monaco Dynasty and the other a 45’ Newmar King aire so clearance and load is not a problem on my suggested route.

    Take a look at this suggested route...  https://tinyurl.com/uqorxvc

    Route Details

    From Denton, head east on US-380 through McKinney to Greenville, TX. While this is a 4-6 lane highway, it is BUSY but LESS busy than going through Dallas. 

    In Greenville, TX, get on US-69 (heading southeast) toward Mineola, TX. Stay on US-69 through Mineola and get on I-20 east to Shreveport, LA and onto Jackson, MS. Note that going through or around Shreveport has always been ROUGH so be prepared to slow down.

     

    Just a tiny bit east of Jackson, MS is Pearl, MS, here, turn south on US-49 (a good highway). Follow US-49. Get on I-59 a bit to bypass Hattiesburg, MS, and a bit south of Hattiesburg, you will turn on to US-98 (also a good highway). Follow US-98 south to near Lucedale, MS and there, turn onto MS-68. Go south. Follow MS-68 to I-10. Then head east toward Mobile, AL.

    Quote

    [Author Note… You may notice on a map that US-98 goes directly to Mobile, AL. While this route “looks” shorter, I do NOT recommend this as US-98 will take you through some neighborhoods with slower speed limits and narrower streets. MS-68 will put you on I-10 west of Mobile.]

    Just east of Mobile on I-10, US-98 turns south. We follow US-98 along the Gulf coast until we reach Perry, FL. There, we get on US-27, take it to I-75, and then head south to our destination. 

    Note that you can stay on I-10 from Mobile, AL through the panhandle of Florida all the way to I-75 and then head south. While this may be a bit faster, it is not as scenic and definitely has more traffic.

     

    East-Bound Route Wrap-Up

    We have driven this suggested route numerous times going to and from Texas (both east and west) and always been pleased. It is efficient, easy to drive, is four-lane nearly all the way, good speed limits, ample fuel stops, and plenty of places to boondock or get a campground.

    From Denton Going West

    Think of this western route as an “extension” of the previous route (above) in that you continue simply continue to stay on US-380 as you cross Texas from east to west. This route parallels I-20 but (we think) it is a bit more efficient. I-20 heads a bit south to ultimately intersect with I-10 but US-380 goes due west. Also, you will find that US-380 is 70 mph much of the way, has very little traffic, and just a few towns to go through. Following this route (US-380 ) west across Texas and into New Mexico will bring you to San Antonio, NM where you intersect with I-25 (to Albuquerque [north] or Las Cruces [south])  See it here... https://tinyurl.com/ul7xezs

    West-Bound Route Wrap-Up

    In Bakersfield, Texas (near the New Mexico border), use the “free” campground owned by the town (they do ask for donations) .

    This is a good route, easy to drive with the biggest RV, and a few miles shorter than the Interstate. Plus, you will miss the major cities. There is ample food and fuel but no major truck stops—just local services. Also, there are campgrounds along this route but NOT a lot of places to boondock. We stopped in one small town and the local police told us to park overnight in the city park across from the police station AND they would keep an “eye” on us that night. We did. It was appreciated.

    We have traveled this route both east and west and would use it again. 

    Contact the Author...

    Ron Jones has written feature articles for all the major RV magazines, 9 RV books, 9 eBoooklets, presented seminars to RVers at every major venue in the USA, and operates a “How to” website for RVers. Ask him about RVing.

    Email...  rej@gte.net

    Website… aboutrving.com

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