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Old 01-06-2015, 05:34 PM   #1
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Mountain Pass Driving in Winter

Hi: Any advice on driving over icy snowpacked passes in winter - we are heading from Colorado to AZ. Thanks for sharing! Kathy
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:07 PM   #2
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If you are going thru the 4 corners area. I would pick Wolf Creek over Monarch Pass.
It means you will need to go over Poncha Pass.
There are web cameras on Wolf Creek to give you an idea of the road conditions. Go to Colorado Road Conditions then pick the camera and location.
My advice. Drive Slow. Especially going down off the pass'. Make sure the trailer brakes function properly. Not giving enough brake or locking up on slick pavement will not be good. Avoid using the brakes as much as possible when in slick spots. Use lower gears when heading down.
Wet icy conditions are worse than cold snow packed roads. If possible, only apply the brakes when on dry pavement or straight sections of the road. Again! Avoid gaining too much speed.
If you decide to go east to I-25 you will encounter Raton Pass. Also higher mountain roads near Santa Fe. But once you get passed Socorro. You probably won't encounter too much snow.
We travelled I-25 a year ago at Thanksgiving. Wound up spending 4 nights at the KOA in Colorado City. Waiting for Raton Pass to clear off. Spent another 4 nights near Socorro on the way back for the same reason.


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Old 01-06-2015, 06:13 PM   #3
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The best advice I can give is "don't" but that is not what you want to hear, I am sure. I have towed trailers in the snow and just prefer not to do it. But if you have to:

1. Check ahead with the highway departments or State Police to get the latest information. Check the highway department web sites for road conditions. Many states have extensive video cameras on 24/7 which can give you a visual picture of what you are going to get into.
2. If possible travel either when it is cold (like below 20) when the snow is firm and ice has a better grip, or when it is warm (lie above 40) and things are melting and clearing up. The worst time to travel is in actual snowfall at temps close to freezing, either a bit above or below 32. That is when the snow and roads are the most slippery and dangerous.
3. Be very careful about shading and shadows on an otherwise warm day when the snow is melting. Those shadows and shaded areas are often slippery as snot where they get no sun. And often the shaded areas are on curves so you are going along fine on a dry road and suddenly find yourself on a curve on a snow or ice covered stretch.
4. Take it easy, do nothing fast, that is no quick turns. Anticipate the road in front of you and slow down before you get on an icy patch.

Those points are some place to start anyway. The best point though is avoidance, that is "don't" if you can help it
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Old 01-06-2015, 09:20 PM   #4
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From Salida, drop down to Alamosa and further down to Tres Piedras, NM south of Antonito, CO. At Tres Piedras, turn onto 64 West to head to Tierra Amarilla, Chama, Dulce, Farmington area, Shiprock, and on into Arizona, all on US 64. Just beyond the border is Teec Nos Pos, where the road turns into US 160.

You'll have a pass-ette to get over in order to get from Salida to the San Luis valley. And you'll have some high country to go through between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla/Chama. Check weather and road sites to make sure all is clear, and then you're good to go. For New Mexico roads, your source is the following:

nmroads.com

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Old 01-07-2015, 12:00 PM   #5
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Stalk the weather, stalk the road cams and radar, have no expectations of time, drive in daylight hours only, be willing and ready to hole up in a safe place for days if necessary. Weather can change fast in the mountains. That said, if you do as suggested you'll probably breeze right through it. Stay on the main roads, interstates are best, they clear those first.
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:16 PM   #6
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Chain Requirements

Check ahead with the each DOT and determine if chains are required.

If chains are required you WILL need a set for your tow vehicle, and a set of chains/cables for your trailer.

Your speed will be limited to 20 mph, but you will feel much more secure (and legal).

I have towed in and out of Yosemite through raging blizzards, the chain controls were actually a blessing and reduced my stress level significantly.
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Old 01-07-2015, 03:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubank View Post
From Salida, drop down to Alamosa and further down to Tres Piedras, NM south of Antonito, CO. At Tres Piedras, turn onto 64 West to head to Tierra Amarilla, Chama, Dulce, Farmington area, Shiprock, and on into Arizona, all on US 64. Just beyond the border is Teec Nos Pos, where the road turns into US 160.

You'll have a pass-ette to get over in order to get from Salida to the San Luis valley. And you'll have some high country to go through between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla/Chama. Check weather and road sites to make sure all is clear, and then you're good to go. For New Mexico roads, your source is the following:

nmroads.com

Lynn
This is possible but this is a slow route and the road isn't in very good condition through much of New Mexico.
I-70 is the best choice in the winter as it is 4 lane and the tunnel approaches and Vail Pass are gradual without sharp turns and excessive grades. Additionally, it receives far more attention from CODT in the form of sanding and plowing.
I come out in Moab, Utah and drive down through the state to the 4 corners area. Longer yes, but quite scenic.
Hwy 160 has two steep, curvy, sometimes narrow passes and Wolf Creek Pass often gets the most snow of anywhere in the state.
I have driven my AS on the snow many times without incident although I do not find it a pleasurable experience. I have 4x4 always engaged and my tow vehicle is rated way above the weight of my AS.
As others have said, I pick my days to those between storms and do not outdrive my ability to turn and brake.
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Old 01-07-2015, 03:48 PM   #8
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a question on chain on TV and Trailer.. do you need chains on both axles of trailer our just one axle and which is better
chains or cables. I have heard not to use chains on radial tires the cables are less stressful to the tires.

same on trailer, chains or cables.

I had a van that was auctioned from the local power company that came with a set of chains with the "V" chain in them as well.. one year in raleigh we got like 6" of snow for days. (1992 or 3ish) I had them on my RWD 1994 G-20 chev van and went place the 4x4 could not run..

only could use park brake to slow down as where was ice on the snow so any brakes locked the front tires with no direction..

It was fun for a day or two i did that.. now i just stay home and reschedule the chimney cleaning jobs till the roads clear.
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Old 01-07-2015, 04:01 PM   #9
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Kathy... you are in the tropical part of Colorado. I am surprised you ever get any snow on your pineapples and oranges.

We are watching the weather to make a run over Raton Pass next week on I-25. If the roads are dry and the sun is out... we are moving out. Need to make Albuquerque before sunset and eventurally Las Vegas to lay back, thinking about the snow we left in the yard and catch some shows.

Will be running the water lines and tanks DRY out of the High Country. I will not flush the system and prime the pump until we are sure no sub 28 degree weather is in the way. Probably Tucson to catch fresh water to Quartzsite, Arizona for BLM desert camping.

Today we had freezing rain and I skated in my boots to pick up the newspaper this morning. Now your sunshine has arrived and roads are dry, again.

The sloppy roads are always something to be weary of traveling upon... but if you make it safely in the slop... the chemicals spread on the highway can be the worst of your options to find yourself. That is why, if you have a flexible time situation, is to travel on dry roads and save yourself from having any bad experience.

Let us all know how you did. Be safe and find that break in the weather!
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carl2591 View Post
a question on chain on TV and Trailer.. do you need chains on both axles of trailer our just one axle and which is better
chains or cables. I have heard not to use chains on radial tires the cables are less stressful to the tires.

same on trailer, chains or cables.

I had a van that was auctioned from the local power company that came with a set of chains with the "V" chain in them as well.. one year in raleigh we got like 6" of snow for days. (1992 or 3ish) I had them on my RWD 1994 G-20 chev van and went place the 4x4 could not run..

only could use park brake to slow down as where was ice on the snow so any brakes locked the front tires with no direction..

It was fun for a day or two i did that.. now i just stay home and reschedule the chimney cleaning jobs till the roads clear.
I have used both chains and cables in my tow vehicle. On my tow vehicle I would try to use the chains as they are more heavy duty than cables. In Yosemite valley I broke at least one set of cables on my tow vehicle while pulling the trailer through 18 inch snow in the campground.

For the trailer, you need traction devices to apply brakes, so cables should be OK. I have used only cables on the trailer and had no problems. Also, they take up less room and are less likely to damage the trailer if loosely installed.

Here is the CA chain chart - look at the very bottom of page 2.

http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist3/departme...ChainChart.pdf
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Old 01-08-2015, 04:57 PM   #11
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Also make sure you have chains for your tow and trailers axels
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