Remember the Oregon Trail game? While you could find a way to drown or die of dysentery in 10 minutes flat, the real journey along this route took a whole lot longer. In the mid-1800s, the brave families who traveled the 2,000 miles from Missouri to the west coast along the Oregon Trail took a staggering six months to make the trip in oxen-pulled wagons. By 1912, conditions had improved a bit and a person driving an early automobile could cover the 3,000 miles between the coasts in a relatively speedy 30 days via the Lincoln Highway — the first road to stretch all the way across the U.S.
Today, that same journey from one end of the country to the other can be completed in around 40 hours — assuming you have a second driver to switch off shifts so you can travel without stopping overnight. Sure, some of that remarkable improvement in travel time comes from the fact that modern cars are a whole lot faster than oxen or Model Ts, but much of the credit belongs to the Interstate Highway System. Inspired by Germany's Autobahn, this grid of high-speed highways unites the nation and is significantly easier on travelers than attempting to forge a trail through the wilderness.
Do you think you know which highways to take when traveling between various states? Prove your Interstate IQ with this quiz!
You'll see hundreds of signs for quirky attractions South of the Border as you cruise through the Carolinas along this north-to-south interstate.
"You never sausage a place!" proclaims one of the cheesy billboards for South of the Border. These billboards are impossible to avoid as you travel along I-95 between North and South Carolina. This roadside attraction near Dillon, South Carolina, has seen better days but it's hard to resist a stop after you've just passed 100 billboards for the site.
Which interstate, which connects Texas to South Carolina, was immortalized in a sad 2008 song by the Zac Brown Band?
The Zac Brown Band's 2008 song, "Highway 20 Ride," tells the story of a divorced dad heading along I-20, turning his truck around "right at the Georgia line" as he picks up his son for a visit. This interstate connects I-10 in Texas to I-95 in Florence, South Carolina, passing through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia along the way.
Don't skip a visit to the famous Mars Cheese Castle when traveling this north-south highway that connects Illinois and Wisconsin.
Interstate 41 runs 176 miles through the Midwest, connecting the state of Illinois to Wisconsin, and passing through cities like Kenosha, Milwaukee and Green Bay. Just as I-41 enters Wisconsin, you'll find the Mars Cheese Castle, a castle-shaped shop that sells all things dairy to Cheeseheads from all over.
Do you know which of these interstates, which runs from Washington to Massachusetts, had no speed limit as it passed through Montana in the '90s?
You can travel all the way from Seattle, Washington, to Illinois on I-90 toll-free, but as soon as this interstate hits the Midwest, be prepared to shell out for tolls pretty much all the way to the end of the road in Boston. While a Montana stretch of this 3,000-mile highway had no speed limit through the '90s, it now limits drivers to a still-brisk 80 mph.
Do you want to travel from Mexico to Canada while skipping the busy coastal cities? Try this highway, which runs between California and Montana.
You can travel all the way from the Mexico border to Canada along I-15, passing through California, Nevada. Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Montana along the way. Just over 1,400 miles, it's one of the most direct non-coastal routes to travel between our northern and southern neighbors.
It starts in Utah and has a bizarre end in a highway to nowhere in Baltimore, MD. Can you ID this interstate?
Interstate 70 was designed to copy the route of the old U.S. Route 40, running from Utah, through Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to I-95 in Maryland. Instead, local opposition in the Baltimore area forced an end to this highway at a park-and-ride in a nearby suburb, forcing drivers to circle the Baltimore Beltway to reach I-95.
Name the interstate that connects I-55 in Missouri to I-94 near Chicago, Illinois.
As one of the biggest cities in the U.S., Chicago is a major travel hub. Those traveling south to Missouri can use I-57, which runs for 386 miles north to south. It's one of the few highways near Chicago without a nickname, with similar area highways known by familiar names, like the Kennedy Expressway or Tri-State Tollway, rather than by a number.
Which of these routes covers the 1,060 miles between southern New Mexico and northern Wyoming?
Interstate 25 runs from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to northern Wyoming, close to the Montana border, passing through Albuquerque, Denver and Cheyenne. While you may not be familiar with the city of Las Cruces located at the southern end of this highway, it's surrounded by incredible sites, including the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, White Sands National Monument and Prehistoric Trackings National Monument, where you can view 280 million-year-old fossilized footprints.
It ain't the Route from the old songs, where you could "get your kicks," but can you ID this interstate that connects Virginia and Washington, DC?
Unlike the iconic Route 66 that ran from Chicago to the Cali coast, I-66 connects I-81 in Virginia with the District of Columbia. Like most highways around DC, it's jam-packed during rush hour. There's an express toll lane, but be prepared to shell out big bucks to cut your commute time during peak periods.
Do you know which Interstate follows the Pacific coast all the way from Canada to Mexico?
If you've got a co-pilot willing to switch driving shifts, you can make it all the way from Canada to Mexico along I-5 in just under 24 hours, as long as there's no traffic and you don't stop anywhere. The 1,380-mile route passes through California, Oregon and Washington.
Are you heading from Chattanooga to Illinois by way of Nashville? This interstate is likely the quickest route.
Interstate 24 takes travelers along a 300-plus mile route from I-57 in Illinois to I-75 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You'll also pass through Kentucky on your trip, so be sure to stop at the Welcome Center just before the Illinois border. It's housed in a Civil War-era Classical Revival home, complete with a gorgeous portico.
The second-longest U.S. Interstate connects San Francisco, California, to New Jersey, just outside NYC. Do you know its number?
Traversing the length of I-80 will take you some 2,900 miles across the U.S., from northern California to just outside of NYC. This interstate is iconic because it roughly follows the path of the Lincoln Highway, one of the earliest cross-country roads in the U.S. The modern I-80 crosses through 11 states, including California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Are you heading to the Great White North from Kansas City? Take this route to travel from Missouri to Canada by way of the Dakotas.
Rivers running throughout the middle of the U.S. helped give I-29 its path. It travels through Missouri, Iowa, North and South Dakota, following the Missouri, Big Sioux and Red Rivers along the way. Keep traveling north after you reach the end of this interstate and you'll find yourself in Winnipeg, Canada.
One of the shortest interstates in the country passes between Fort Worth, Texas, and Little Rock, Arkansas. Do you know which one it is?
Interstate 30 takes travelers the 377 miles from the Fort Worth area in Texas to the Arkansas capital of Little Rock. Along the way, it passes through Dallas and the city of Texarkana. The stretch between Dallas and Fort Worth is named for Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, who spent 29 seasons with the team, from the '60s through the '80s.
Pick the interstate that runs from Tennessee to Charleston, South Carolina, crossing I-40 as it passes through Asheville.
If you're seeking some low-country charm, hop on I-26 to travel the 300 miles from Kingsport, Tennessee, to Charleston, South Carolina. Along the way, you'll pass through Asheville, crossing Interstate 40 and some incredible peaks within the Blue Ridge and Bald Mountains.
This interstate covers the 2,600 miles between Barstow, CA, and Wilmington, NC, taking an east-west route along parts of the original Route 66.
Interstate 40 passes through eight states as it meanders from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Most of the road between Barstow and Oklahoma City follows the "get your kicks" Route 66. Along the way, I-40 passes major cities like Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Nashville and Raleigh.
Passing mostly small towns along the way, which of these interstates connects Mississippi and Alabama?
Built in the '70s as part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, I-22 links Byhalia, Mississippi, and Birmingham, Alabama. Just 200 miles long, it helps join plenty of small towns to major cities nearby.
Do you know which of these highways connects New Hampshire and Vermont?
On the way from Bow, New Hampshire, to Highgate Springs, Vermont, I-89 travels 191 miles through these two New England states. Drivers along this route pass through Concord and Montpelier, the states' capitals, as well as the major city of Burlington, Vermont. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Whale Tales — a granite statue rising out of the ground between exits 12 and 13 in Vermont.
Name the interstate that connects Louisville, Kentucky, to Cleveland, Ohio, passing through an insane interchange called Spaghetti Junction.
It's interstate 71 that joins I-64 in Louisville to I-90 near Cleveland. The intersection of I-64, I-65 and I-71 near Louisville has long been known as Spaghetti Junction because of the twisted mess of ramps and overpasses at this junction.
What road are you traveling on if you take the most direct interstate between Louisiana and Chicago, Illinois?
Interstate 55 joins I-10 in Louisiana to the city of Chicago, Illinois, passing through Jackson, Memphis and St. Louis along the way. The 1,000- mile route joins the Gulf and Great Lakes, crossing the Mississippi River at two different spots.
Can you guess which of these north-south highways connects Illinois and Wisconsin?
With a total run of around 300 miles, I-39 connects I-55 near Bloomington, Illinois, to Highway 29 in central Wisconsin. Passing north to south through the heart of the Midwest, this interstate connects cities like Madison and Rockford.
Name the interstate that passes through six U.S. states as it runs between Texas and Minnesota.
Interstate 35 runs north and south, covering the 1,500 miles between Laredo, Texas, near the Mexican border and Duluth, Minnesota, near the Canadian border. The six states that share this highway include Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.
Crossing from sunny Southern California to Jacksonville, Florida, which of these interstates takes a southern route across the U.S. from east to west?
Interstate 10 stretches all the way from the California coast at Santa Monica to Interstate 95 in northern Florida. More than 800 miles of this 2,400-mile highway are located in Texas. A low-lying stretch in Louisiana suffered major damage during Hurricane Katrina ... and Hurricane Ivan ... and pretty much every other major storm, until the bridge was finally moved to higher ground in the 2010s.
Do you think you can pick the correct one of these interstates to take you from I-10 in Louisiana to I-24 in Georgia?
Interstate 59 crosses the 450-mile path from southeast Louisiana through Mississippi, Alabama and into Georgia. Along the way, it passes through Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama's beloved football team — Roll Tide!
Which of these interstates takes you from the Great Lakes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico as it travels from Indiana to Alabama?
In 2007, Superbowl XLI picked up the nickname the I-65 Bowl because both teams, the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, were native to cities along Interstate 65, which were separated by just 190 miles or so. This interstate connects Mobile, Alabama, to Gary, Indiana, traveling through Tennessee and Kentucky along the way.
Can you guess which highway carries traffic from Texas to Missouri by way of Oklahoma, running at a diagonal from southwest to northeast?
The 630-mile stretch between Wichita Falls, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri, is easily traveled via I-44. You'll know you've reached the end of the line when you spot the stainless steel Gateway Arch rising 630 feet over the city of St. Louis.
A mile-long engineering marvel known as the East River Mountain Tunnel carries traffic between West Virginia and Virginia along this highway.
Interstate 77 connects I-90 near Cleveland, Ohio, with I-26 in Columbia, South Carolina. Between West Virginia and Virginia, the interstate passes under a mountain, saving travelers from having to take a long detour. Interstate 77 also passes through North Carolina as it meanders through the south.
It directly connects Iowa and Ohio, but can you name the interstate that also has a yet-to-be-built connection through North Carolina?
Interstate 74 runs uninterrupted from I-80 in Iowa to Cincinnati, Ohio. After a break, it finally terminates near I-95 in Lumberton, North Carolina. Another North Carolina section of this highway also passes by a small town called Mt. Airy. Worth a stop, it's the hometown that Andy Griffith used as his inspiration when creating "The Andy Griffith Show."
If you're looking to travel from downtown Baltimore, Maryland, to Pennsylvania's capital city of Harrisburg, which is the most direct route?
Interstate 83 covers the 85-mile journey from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to Baltimore, Maryland. It has a strange end at a surface street in downtown Baltimore, dumping huge volumes of cars onto surface streets in the downtown and Inner Harbor areas.
Do you know which of these routes joins I-20 in Shreveport, Louisiana, to I-30 near Texarkana, Arkansas?
It's an easy trip along I-49 between Shreveport, Louisiana, and Texarkana, Arkansas, with a major interstate located at either end of the route. An unconnected section of I-49 also passes through Joplin, Missouri. If you're ever in the area, take a tour of the local house that Bonnie and Clyde stayed in during a stop in Joplin in 1933.
Identify the interstate listed below that connects Montgomery, Alabama, with Petersburg, Virginia.
The 660-mile route between Montgomery, Alabama, and the I-95 junction near Petersburg, Virginia, is covered by I-85. Along the way, it passes through cities like Atlanta — home of Coca-Cola — and Charlotte, where you can tour the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Say hello to Salem Sue, a giant cow that hovers over the interstate between Billings, Montana, and Detroit, Michigan.
I-91 connects I-90 in Billings, Montana, with I-75 near Detroit, Michigan. Along the way, the road passes through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. If you're ever in the area, be sure to wave to Salem Sue, a 50-foot tall cow sculpture near New Salem, North Dakota.
From the tip of northern Michigan to southern Florida, this highway goes through six states. Can you ID it?
It's about an-1,800 mile journey to travel from one end of I-75 near Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, to the other end near Miami, Florida. The section between Naples and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which passes through the Everglades, was nicknamed Alligator Alley because of the large number of gators that call the region home.
Travelers along this route cover just under 1,000 miles on the journey from I-76 in Missouri and I-264 in Virginia. Name this interstate.
Interstate 64 connects I-76 in Missouri to I-264 near Chesapeake, Virginia, passing through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. Beware of Kennedy Intersection in Kentucky if you go; the tangle of interchanges where I-64, I-65 and I-71 meet is known as Spaghetti Junction.
Which of these highways connects Hannibal, Missouri, to Champaign, Illinois, by way of the Illinois capital city of Springfield?
The 179-mile stretch of I-72 takes travelers from Missouri to Champaign, Illinois. Along the way, the route passes through the city of Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1837 to 1861. Visitors to Springfield can tour Lincoln's home, his presidential library and his tomb.