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Old 04-27-2013, 09:53 AM   #1
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Best way to get over mountains?

What is the best/safest way to get over the Rocky Mountains, leaving from the southern Oregon Coast and heading to Wisconsin? I'm thinking either I-90 or I-80....or is there another highway that gets over the mountains easier? I would like to avoid bad/cold weather and high elevations as much as possible. I'm a little more cautious about road condition now because a combination of high wind and black ice pushed me into a snowy ditch in North Dakota a few months ago. I'll be leaving next week.

Thanks for any tips.
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Old 04-27-2013, 11:17 AM   #2
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This time of year, any route will be fine, baring an unusual storm which can happen even in July in the mountains. However, I simply would not worry about it, probably less than a 1% chance of you running into any problems with snow or ice on any trip.
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Old 04-27-2013, 12:51 PM   #3
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This time of year or later, both of those Interstates should be fine. Have you got a smart phone so you can monitor forecasts and road conditions en route?

If you start at the coast you have to get over the Sierra Nevadas or Cascades somehow. We've not taken I-80 through CA except on dry pavement. However, it pretty well bypasses the Rockies through Wyoming.

The Snoqualmie pass on I-90 gets a lot of snow but is also very well maintained. However, there are some high passes in western Montana on I-90. We once took HY 200 from Sandpoint, ID to Missoula, MT to avoid them and it was fine: much lower.

If it is convenient for you, I-84 from Portland takes you through lower elevations along the Columbia River, and misses the high country in western Montana. It also bypasses Salt Lake City with its traffic, a big advantage, and hooks up with I-80 just east of it.

It looks like you could also take a shortcut on US HY 20 from Bend to I-84 just north of Boise.
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Old 04-27-2013, 02:00 PM   #4
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Hi -- I towed on I-80 from CO to CA two years ago this month with no problems, but I went south from Salt Lake City and avoided crossing the Sierra. The maximum elevation is only about 8,600 feet and the climbing is pretty gentle. As others have said, snow is not likely but can be a problem any given week.
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Old 04-27-2013, 02:53 PM   #5
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Check out these books. https://www.mountaindirectory.com/mtnshop/
They give a good description of the passes and are great for help deciding a route.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:14 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies. I think I'll take Hwy 20 over to Lake Owyhee state park. Then I'll get on I-84, go through Idaho and then get on I-80 north of Salt lake city and drive all the way to Des Moines from there, then take 35 North.

Anyone know of any cool state parks along that route? I didn't see much for parks in Wyoming.

That's a good idea about using a smart phone to check road conditions, although my coverage isn't the best. I'm going to check for a road condition app right now.

Cheers.




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Old 04-27-2013, 09:47 PM   #7
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You might like Three Island Crossing State Park at Glens Ferry Idaho. Get off at Glens Ferry and follow the signs. You go into town, turn south about the middle of the town, go to the water tower, and the road takes a sharp right, follow it about a mile to the park. Very nice, peaceful and lots of places to walk and history of the Oregon trail crossing to study.
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:57 PM   #8
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Don't know about state parks, or what your schedule allows ..... but you will be passing within about three hours from Jackson, WY and only a couple more to Yellowstone.
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Old 04-27-2013, 10:54 PM   #9
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Jet is definitely the best way!
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Old 04-28-2013, 01:31 AM   #10
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If you like lots of semi truck traffic, I 80 is your route. Personally, I would cut up to I 90 and be a bit more relaxed.
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Old 04-28-2013, 09:26 AM   #11
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Unless you want to drive 75 mph. I would recommend US 20. It runs parallel to I-80 and I-90. There are a number of state parks along this route. Also a number of small towns offer overnight camping for a nominal fee. The rodeo grounds in Basset, NE has electric hookup. They ask for a small donation.
You can pick up US 20 at Douglas, WY. There is a beautiful state park just north of Ainsworth, NE (Keller SP). Another is just south of Ft. Dodge, IA (Doliver SP).
Don't know how big of a hurry you are in. But the speed limit on this highway is 60-65mph. Very little traffic.
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Old 04-28-2013, 12:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
You might like Three Island Crossing State Park at Glens Ferry Idaho. Get off at Glens Ferry and follow the signs. You go into town, turn south about the middle of the town, go to the water tower, and the road takes a sharp right, follow it about a mile to the park. Very nice, peaceful and lots of places to walk and history of the Oregon trail crossing to study.
We stayed here once and it was a nice place! Another nice state park campground on I-84 is Farewell Bend state park in eastern Oregon.

We sometimes drive from just north of the top of the Idaho panhandle to visit family in Colorado in the autumn shoulder-season. Although I-84 is not the most direct route, it is lower in elevation and a bit more inhabited. Something to consider should we need to pull over and wait out a storm.

With I-84, you do go through Ogden on a combined I-84/I-15. but you can bypass SLC and pick up I-80 just east of it.

We would do a lot to avoid Salt Lake City. It always seems to have tons of rush-hour or construction traffic on I-15, the north-south freeway. The belt routes are marginally better. It would be a little easier taking I-80 eastbound from Nevada through SLC. Parley's Canyon between SLC and Park City is a long steep section, but even so, you should have no problem. We camped once at a casino RV park in Wendover, NV on I-80. It was fine for a quick stop.

If you take I-90 through northwestern Montana, we have stayed for free (w/ electrical!) at a Casino in Haugen called 50,000 Silver Dollars. No rest room except for a long hike to the casino, but hey-- you've got an AS. There is also a US Forest Service campground right on the Interstate a bit further east-- I think just east of Alberton. Then we have also stayed at a nice, low-key, not expensive RV park in St. Regis that we'd recommend.
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Old 04-29-2013, 02:39 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
Unless you want to drive 75 mph. I would recommend US 20. It runs parallel to I-80 and I-90. There are a number of state parks along this route. Also a number of small towns offer overnight camping for a nominal fee. The rodeo grounds in Basset, NE has electric hookup. They ask for a small donation.
You can pick up US 20 at Douglas, WY. There is a beautiful state park just north of Ainsworth, NE (Keller SP). Another is just south of Ft. Dodge, IA (Doliver SP).
Don't know how big of a hurry you are in. But the speed limit on this highway is 60-65mph. Very little traffic.
I think I will take US 20 as you recommended. Getting away from the busy interstate sounds good to me. Maybe I'll take 385 from Cheyenne to Chadron, NE to get on US 20. Keller SP sounds perfect, much better than sleeping in rest areas. Thanks!
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:38 AM   #14
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Remember - as we get further along you still need to monitor the route, we ran into an issue with wildfires one year that had us take a detour as we passed from into Utah on our last trip from San Diego to DC.
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