View Full Version : Cross Country on I80

2-Jun-2007, 15:45
I'm leaving from Sacramento, CA on Tuesday, destined for State College, PA and I'll basically be following I-80 across the country. I need to arrive by Sunday night at the latest, so I won't really have time for major diversions off the highway. Planned stops are Wells, NV or closer to the Utah border; Laramie, WY; Des Moines, IA; and Columbus, OH.

Any suggestions for good viewpoints or interesting things to shoot would be welcome. I've driven across the country several times before, but never this northern route. I do have some leeway in terms of side trips. If I drove straight through I could get to State College by Saturday morning, so I can make some adjustments.

Specifically I'm thinking of any suggestions around northern Utah, Southern Wyoming and things in Nebraska like the world's largest ball of mud. :D

I'm taking all my gear, so every format smaller than 8x10 will be travelling with me.


oh, good places to eat (and drink) in the towns I've mentioned would be nice, too. ;)

2-Jun-2007, 16:32
Sounds like a great trip. I will be doing I-40 from Albuquerque to Durham NC later this summer.

I love road trips.

2-Jun-2007, 17:44
For Pete's sake stay off the interstates, federal and state roads are much more interesting and offer opportunities for serendipitous shots. Interestingly, once you get to the flatter states, they are nearly as fast as the interstates. The average truck accident caused by a sleepy driver causes the death of 8 others, almost always in smaller cars and light trucks.

Dave Brown
2-Jun-2007, 18:10
My first thought was Vedauwoo. Vedauwoo is in Wyoming, only a mile or two off of I-80. There is also the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah (striking, but difficult to photograph) The Great Salt Lake, and the little known Joseph Smith Sphinx.

John Kasaian
2-Jun-2007, 18:30
There are (were?) some funky towers in the desert on 80 East of Sparks built by the guy who built Watts Towers.
You'll be driving through the Wasatch range in Utah, theres plenty of scenery there. Maybe the ski lifts at Park City are running.
I don't know if its still there, but somewhere West of Laramie theres a famous tree by the UP tracks that wouldn't be there except that the firemen on the trains would toss a bucket of water at it when the locomotives rolled by.
Steak is always good in Lincoln, NE.

Donald Qualls
2-Jun-2007, 18:46
If you like architecture at all, the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City is worth photographing -- the world center of one of the most uniquely American religions on Earth. You won't be allowed inside the temple to see the world's largest pipe organ (unless you're a Mormon in good standing), but the exterior of the building (and its history, originally built without nails in a period when the Mormon settlers weren't far ahead of simple subsistence) is worth a few sheets of film, and last time I was there (about 20 years ago) there was easy parking close enough to lug a camera and tripod, and some good views of the Tabernacle from public streets. Can't say if there will be restrictions on tripods or photography in general in this post-9/11 age, but it's easy enough to call the SLC Chamber of Commerce, who will probably refer you to the Tabernacle management office, to find out the situation. And far from being much out of your way, IIRC you'll be going almost through SLC anyway (as I recall, I-80 skirts by the south edge of the city).

Take a *long* lens -- the figure of the Angel Moroni on top of the Temple is worth a sheet (of color) in and of itself (it's surfaced with gold, and I don't think it's gold leaf).

Nope, I'm not a Mormon, I just appreciate the effort that went into that Tabernacle and its unique heritage.

Glenn Thoreson
2-Jun-2007, 19:20
If you're in a hurry, I would stay clear of downtown Salt Lake. There's a lot of major construction projects going on down there.
There's not much on I-80 in Wyoming. The Vedauwoo Rocks is a good suggestion, on the east side of the state. Fort Bridger is pretty neat. It's just east of Evanston a little ways. Nice period buildings, etc. I live in the SW part of the state, and believe me, I have to hunt like crazy to find subjects that interest me. Wyoming is very sparsely populated. 'Twas always thus.

2-Jun-2007, 22:53
keep going to NY. i am in kingston NY. great stuff to see around me if you need a day trip once you arriove in pa.


2-Jun-2007, 23:37
Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. I confess, Glenn, I was really looking forward to southern Wyoming, but then I thought it would be all snowy peaked mountains and such...ah well.

Eddie, I will actually eventually be making my way to NY; I think I'll have to go to Boston for two weeks around the beginning of July, but for the last 2 weeks in June I'll probably be out on Long Island (Carle Place or Manhassett) Where's Kingston located? (I assume you don't mean Queens...) My brother works for PSU so that's why the stop in State College.

Glenn Thoreson
3-Jun-2007, 18:42
You can see the peaks of the Snowy Range off in the distance over by Laramie but for the most part, the trek across I-80 is through high desert country. It's still kind of scenic, in it's way, but just not real photogenic to my eye. There is the old territorial prison over by Rawlins, if you're into that sort of thing.

John Kasaian
3-Jun-2007, 20:29
I got some pretty terriffic cloud shots in Wyoming on I-80 in June, 1976 (but those clouds probably aren't there any more!) :D

4-Jun-2007, 06:08
... I was really looking forward to southern Wyoming, but then I thought it would be all snowy peaked mountains and such...ah well.As Glenn mentioned, the Snowy Range is near Laramie off I-80. So if you plan to spend the night in Laramie, sunrise from the pass or at Lake Marie might be an option. It can be spectacular. The pass is about a 45 min. drive West of Laramie on Hwy 130.

4-Jun-2007, 07:56
Check out the old airbase at Wendover (former home of the "Enola Gay"), on the border of NV and UT. It's immediately south of the highway, about 1 mile. Stop in at the control tower museum, and make sure to ask about the Center for Land Use Interpretation's various exhibition galleries scattered around the base.

Have fun..

Scott Davis
4-Jun-2007, 09:49
Not far off of I-80 in Wyoming is Flaming Gorge national park. Very definitely worth a detour. When you're heading off the interstate toward the park, you at first think, what the heck, why am I wasting my time to come this way? then the road takes a bend, and POW - a deep-cut canyon emerges on the right, revealing rainbow-hued rock layering going down perhaps a thousand feet. Follow the signage off the main road and turn down the Wyoming State route that runs you to the bottom of the canyon. It is a graded washboard road, but passable unless there has been a lot of rain. The vista at the bottom of the canyon is at least as amazing as the views from the top. The trip can be done in perhaps two hours of detour off your main trek. Also worth a stop on I-80 is the point of crossing the Continental Divide (I don't recall if there is an eastbound exit for this or not - you may be able to stop to look out only from the westbound lanes). Rawlins, Wyoming is also an interesting little community to take a few minutes detour through - and about the only place in the area to stop for lunch. There was a cute little place there that I ate - it had a Holstein cow theme - even the waitress wore a cow suit. A little bizarre, but the food was decent and CHEAP.

In hard driving, you can make it from Sacramento to State College in three and a half days (I did DC to San Fran in 3 1/2, doing 12 hours a day on the road). You'll have plenty of time to check out the sights and scenes along the way.

4-Jun-2007, 14:15
Thanks again to all that have given me some great ideas for the trip; I'm packing now and will be getting an early start tomorrow morning. I'm going to try and push hard the first day so that I can get in an hour or so shooting Flaming Gorge (thanks, Scott!) on my second day.

Everyone may get a kick out of this, but I'm taking both the 8x10 Kodak 2D and 4x5 Osaka, as well as all the supplies needed to turn a motel bathroom into a portable darkroom. I've only got 2 8x10 holders, so I'm gonna develop as I go. I'm stocking up on distilled water so I don't have to worry about ph levels of local water supplies.

Everything will be FP4+ tray developed in Pyrocat HD. If there's any good shots when all is said and done, I'll resurrect this thread and post a couple. Thanks again for all the help!

I feel like Matthew Brady without the talent or knowledge! :p

Donald Qualls
4-Jun-2007, 15:05
Well, but on the other hand, you also don't have to deal with ether in the field, with safelights that run on a flame... :eek:

4-Jun-2007, 15:07
Donald, I guess I owe you thanks (and angst). You see, your sig line is the reason I bought the 8x10. :cool:

7-Jun-2007, 23:41
Eddie, I will actually eventually be making my way to NY; Where's Kingston located? (I assume you don't mean Queens...)

kingston is 2 hours N of NYC on I87. great place for photography. we got it all! stop by.

PM sent.


C. D. Keth
9-Jun-2007, 19:07
Just west of Salt Lake is the Saltair, a strange tourist attraction. it used to be a big resort back when bathing in salt water was supposed to have medical properties. It burned down at some point and now there's a mediocre (compared to the original) rebuild of it. Interesting in it's own sort of way.

Further west of that is a very large morton salt plant that's pretty interesting. I don't know about photographing it, though.

10-Jun-2007, 14:55
i leave from philadelphia for a destination of portland, OR, one way, in late aug/early sept. i can take as little or as long as i like. shooting for 4-7 days, i need some americana inputs. i want to see all the little burnt out and beautiful stills from my country's history. please provide any and all suggestions.

paul stimac
10-Jun-2007, 15:28
If you stop in Wells you should drive up to Angel Lake. Take the first exit to the right and right again and follow the signs. It's about 5 miles up the mountain. Also, if you stop in Elko, 50 miles before Wells, you should go into the museum - it's on the main drag (Idaho Street). There's a permanent collection of both Edward Weston and AA. It's very nice. I also have a show up there now - all photos of the Ruby Mountains which are just outside of Elko. Oh... you could also go up in Lamoille Canyon (into the Rubies) from Elko...20 min drive. we just got some snow - it's very pretty this time of year. If you eat in Elko go to the Star restaurant. Very good steaks. Have a pican at the bar - just one though.
Have fun.

Here are some links:







C. D. Keth
10-Jun-2007, 15:38
i leave from philadelphia for a destination of portland, OR, one way, in late aug/early sept. i can take as little or as long as i like. shooting for 4-7 days, i need some americana inputs. i want to see all the little burnt out and beautiful stills from my country's history. please provide any and all suggestions.

Try driving on some of the highways that were there before I 80 was completed. The older byways would have more in that ilk I think.

Glenn Thoreson
18-Jun-2007, 20:18
Yep, I'll second that. The old highways went right through the middle of every little town on the route. They weren't all sterile like the interstates, and pretty much followed the contour of the land. Then, they were narrow and dangerous, but I miss them. Driving just isn't the same now.

John Kasaian
18-Jun-2007, 23:57
If you're in Fresno and have a hankerin' for a picon, the Santa Fe on Maroa and the Basque Hotel across from the SP tracks near the Pilegaard feedstore make some mighty fine ones. You could probably write a travel guide to picons of the West! :D