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Old 12-07-2010, 06:02 AM   #1
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Feb.trip from So. CA to MN via Grand Junction CO

Is anyone familiar with a good route for this trip? My husband and I want to stop to see family in CO on our trip home, but are concerned about roads conditions and weather. We do have extra time to wait out the weather if need be.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:49 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums. Although the major highways thru the Rockies are well maintained, that time of year you may just need that extra time to wait out the weather if a major blizard hits. Make sure you keep your propane tanks full.
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:12 AM   #3
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You will be driving through Colorado on I-70. It goes over Vail pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel goes under Loveland Pass.
Most of the time the road is dry with an occasional well sanded snowy spot.
There is lots of ski traffic going East on Saturday and Sunday afternoons so avoid those times.
You should avoid winter storms, which are usually accurately predicted ahead of times. Grand Junction has a mild climate so that is a good place to wait out the weather.
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:35 AM   #4
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You can either take I 70 across Kansas or I80 across Nebraska to I35 north into Minnesota. We've made many trips across I80 in the past thirty years and the winter months are iffy. Generally speaking we stay as far south as possible without going too far out of our way for the east west part of the trip at that time of year.
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Old 12-07-2010, 11:09 AM   #5
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Question ...why are you doing this travel in Feb..if you do I-70 then North from Kansas City (this morn temp 17F) then up I-35 ... lot of propane and maybe a water line freeze... ???
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:28 PM   #6
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I wouldn't recommend traveling (especially towing) on either I-70 or I-80 in the middle of winter (February) unless:

1. You are experienced towing with major (5-7%) grades (wet or dry they can be tricky)
2. You are experienced with towing on winter snow/ice packed roads (but being from MN, that may not be a problem for you like it would be if you were from CA)
3. You are flexible with your schedule to allow for weather related delays (sitting it out like someone else mentioned is a real possibility)
4. You are willing to expose your Airstream to road chemicals which could expedite corrosion (again, MN may be the same as CO)
5. You are not planning on towing your trailer - just driving, in which case the same apply but to a lesser degree

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Old 12-07-2010, 04:53 PM   #7
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Thanks for all of your input. I am questioning our plans.

We have time off from work (I work for a garden center) so that is why we are making the trip in Feb. We plan to have the trailer winterized on Grand Junction before we head for MN.

I've heard there is a good alternate route that goes north of I70 towards Craig, CO and up through WY, then east to South Dakota to I90. This route is supposedly much less mountainous but I suppose the roads may not be as cleared. Is anyone familiar with this route?
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Old 12-07-2010, 06:17 PM   #8
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From Southern CA, I would take 10 to Phoenix and then I-17 to Flagstaff (could be snow), then travel north to Tuba City and over to Monument Valley. Head north through Bluff and Moab to I-70 and across to Grand Junction. This is the path we took earlier this year heading to Gillette, WY from Phoenix.

We then took I-70 to rifle where we turned North through Craig and up to I-80. We took I_80 to Rawlins then headed North to Casper. Took I-25 from Casper up to Gillette on I-90.

It was a great ride in the summer with very few mountains. Any trip in the winter is a crap shoot.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:06 PM   #9
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Here's the statistics on the crap shoot of taking a northerly route. Minneapolis, like Madison, WI averages about 50 inches of snowfall (based on info gleaned from the internet) Casper, WY averages 64 inches. Plus, those winter storms don't just creep in quietly from the northwest, the come roaring across those plains of North and South Dakota before they hit us. I think pulling an Airstream or any other trailer in winter conditions across that route would be taking a big risk IMHO.

In the summertime, I would really consider the norhterly route, but in the winter, I would stay as far south as possible.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:53 PM   #10
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Sometimes the roads are good in winter, sometimes not. Interstates are usually well maintained, but winter weather can make traveling very difficult with a trailer anywhere. Snow tires on allwheels and 4wd tow vehicle are good investments. I have driven through the mountains in bad storms many times without incident, but would not want to do it in winter with a trailer.

I think I-80 would have fewer high passes, but with wide open areas in Wyoming, winds can be bad. Routes from I-70 east of Grand Junction that go north to I-80 can be difficult and not as well maintained in winter and have little traffic in winter and no cellphone coverage in case of an emergency. During some weeks it snows every day in places like Vail and the central Rockies. December and January are the driest months and February starts to get snowier. March and April can be wicked.

Anywhere in northern Arizona, Utah, Colorado and on, the weather can be very cold and fears of frozen water tanks and pipes in the trailer will not make the trip enjoyable. You will use a lot of propane keeping warm as an Airstream is not really a 4 season trailer.

But people do it. Preparation, flexibility and willingness to wait out the storm are key. There are lots of threads on winter Airatreaming so start searching.

I am, as you can see, do not recommend this unless you are very determined.

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Old 12-08-2010, 05:58 AM   #11
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Thanks all!
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:00 AM   #12
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Why kill the trip because of the possibility of bad weather?
If you get weathered out, store the Airstream in Grand Junction and pick it up in the spring.
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:06 PM   #13
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good point. Thanks!
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:51 AM   #14
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I suppose I sound like an alarmist, but I will point out that west of Grand Junction, close to the end of I-70, is a serious mountain range where you can get serious snow in winter. Living in western Colorado, I have spent some thought on whether we can get in and out of here with the trailer in fall and spring, and every route has its challenges.

I-70 to GJ and then west through Utah is the best way in or out, but it's not perfect. Another route goes through Montrose, Ridgway, over the Dallas Divide, past Telluride, over Lizard Head Pass, and then down to US 160 and Cortez. This route is really not so good except when you look at the alternatives. I-70 has the benefit of being a major truck route and is kept open as much as possible. But budget cuts means less winter maintenance, especially on secondary roads. Some roads aren't plowed at all during the night, something I have never seen before.

We get periods of bitter cold and frequent snows, and then periods of relatively warm temps (40's and even higher during the day) and weeks and even months of very low humidity and absolute dryness. If the weather cooperates, you will do fine, if not, you will have lots of stories to tell.

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