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Old 02-23-2008, 01:54 PM   #1
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Travel over Sierras

We are traveling with friends from the SF Bay area to Mono Lake this summer. They have a 5th wheel with a gas engine truck and are worried about pulling over the passes involved. Can anybody give us some ideas about he best route for them? Right now it involves going to Reno on 80 and then south on 395. We feel confident taking our AS and turbo diesel on any road involved but some of the passes are over 9000 feet from what we can tell. Any experiences would be appreciated, good or bad.

John
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Old 02-23-2008, 03:04 PM   #2
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Being a western boy, the pass from Sacramento to Reno seems like just a normal highway. It really should be no problem. If your buds are torque limited, they'll just go a little slower, maybe in the right lane with some of the slow truckers.

The real issue is that I've never been over a worse road surface than on I-80 from the top of the pass to about 20 miles west. Really horrible. Take out your dentures and put in your mouth guards!

The "pass" (Conway Summit) on 395 just north of Mono is pretty steep, so take it slow and in a middle gear going down.

I recommend boon docking in the forest south of Mono on 395, on the east side just east of June Lake. Some really nice, free, forested with small open meadows, places. These are the 250K and 100K topo maps of the area, with my GPS tracks on them. Elevation is above 7,500'.

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37 47.43 N 119 1.77 W (road turn off)
37 47.61 N 119 1.48 W (campsite)

Zep
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Old 02-23-2008, 03:12 PM   #3
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Hi there altamont...

Your buddies will be just fine along that route. I-80 is no problem, and I've also gone from Sacramento up to Tahoe on 50 and then North along 395 to Reno. Nice scenery on that route and while it is high and steep, I would have no issues about towing my A/S thru there (I went thru that route with just pickup truck).

Although I did not have my A/S along when I did that route, I have had my A/S along when I went thru Colorado at 11,150 feet and although some others were telling me I wouldn't make it -- we did just fine.

Admittedly, my A/S is just 19' and fully loaded with truck bbq stuff etc is probably about 5,000 lbs, but I am also towing with a gasser -- 4.0 liter V-6. We went up and over some really high passes and although we were down to about 30 mph on the steeper sections (and for about the last 10 miles approaching 11,000 feet) we were not the slowest on the road. I also passed a couple big Class A's towing their SUV's behind them.

So just tell your buddy to take it easy, don't floor it and or scream the engine, just let the truck find the speed and gear it pulls nicely in and then let it run (remember flashers on when under 45...)

cheers, Dave
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Old 02-23-2008, 03:16 PM   #4
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Conway Summit

We have rallies down near Lee Vining. The only real concern heading south on US 395 is Conway Summit. See link

Mono Lake, CA

Long steep grade. We have made it up and down that pass though with our BVan towing a 29ft Airstream. Just very slow going. Most of it is two lanes so it is no problem going slow.

A longer alternate is to take 80 east to Fernley then 95 down to Hawthorne and over Anchorite pass. It is a very scenic drive and it gets you around Conway.

Anchorite Pass Hwy 359 and 167
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Old 02-24-2008, 12:30 AM   #5
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Since we live in Placerville traveling east it is easier to keep going on up 50. It is a really nice ride. Steep in places and winding in others. But since the speed limit is mostly 55 you won't need to worry about holding up traffic. In the summer we hit that road in the cool of the morning. I heard from another 'Streamer' that 80 was rough....almost too rough in the slow lane. Truck chains do a number on it.
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Old 02-24-2008, 06:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wagnerda
Hi there altamont...

.

Although I did not have my A/S along when I did that route, I have had my A/S along when I went thru Colorado at 11,150 feet and although some others were telling me I wouldn't make it -- we did just fine.

Admittedly, my A/S is just 19' and fully loaded with truck bbq stuff etc is probably about 5,000 lbs, but I am also towing with a gasser -- 4.0 liter V-6. We went up and over some really high passes and although we were down to about 30 mph on the steeper sections (and for about the last 10 miles approaching 11,000 feet) we were not the slowest on the road. I also passed a couple big Class A's towing their SUV's behind them.

So just tell your buddy to take it easy, don't floor it and or scream the engine, just let the truck find the speed and gear it pulls nicely in and then let it run (remember flashers on when under 45...)

cheers, Dave
Thanks Dave for sharing that information, my wife and i are going out west in april for a few months, i was worried about towing my 23 up some of those mountains. I have a 2007 chevy silverado with a 5.3 l, it seemed alright in the small mountains in Tenn, but i wasn't so sure about real big ones. I think our 23 is only about 400 lbs more than yours, so i guess we should do alright too. Thanks again George.
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Old 02-24-2008, 08:54 PM   #7
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I am not worried at all about towing our AS but our friends and their 14000 lb 5er could be in trouble. There is slow going and then there is not making it at all. Because of the condition and/or width of the road they are quite concerned, hence the use of the freeway (80) instead of other, prettier routes. I am concerned about taking 50 with them as they hate heights and tight roads.

Thanks to all those who responded, all comments will go to our friends and then they can make the route decision. Makes me happier still to be towing the AS vs SOB.
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Old 02-25-2008, 02:31 AM   #8
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There's passing lanes on 50. Not enough, but there are some. Also lots of turnouts for slow vehicles. Much of that road the traffic won't be going 50 anyway, and you could keep up pretty good. I always seem to get behind a gasoline double or other semi going up that road anyway. Much smoother than 80. You won't be the only slower vehicle on that road. Report back after you do the trip, bet you will find you had to go around some other slower get up.
Oh, certain times the casino traffic will back those roads up going east, like Friday evenings, Saturday mornings, Sunday mornings, holiday mornings. Evenings its slow going west as they head back home. (Thank them very much for paying my state income taxes)
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:09 AM   #9
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How about 88 or 120

How about the passes further south so we don't have to go so far north to the Reno/Carson City area? I know that 108 would be tough for any towing but could we take 88 over or 120 through Yosemite valley?
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:23 PM   #10
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I travel 120 2 or 3 times each summer, never towing the trailer. The last 8 or so miles, going east, before you reach 395, is a very steep grade(down). It would be a real test of the TV brakes towing the 14,000lb 5th wheel. I have seen several vehicles run off the road into the hill side, when their brakes fail. You don't want to go off the canyon side, it's along waaaay down.
I have never traveled 88, I would and have used 50 many times, I would take 50.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:45 PM   #11
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I've towed several times on 120 and 88 with my old F150 5.4 V8 pulling a 26' fifth wheel, as well as with the F250 and 28' AS. I never had a problem on either stretch. 88 is an easier tow than 120. Take it slow and it shouldn't be a problem.
The last stretch of Tioga pass on 120 is not for the faint of heart. It's pretty steep going down from Yosemite NP to 395, so gear down on the transmission and watch the braking. The scenery is breathtaking on 120. You will need to pay the $20 YNP entrance fee if you take 120. The fee is good for a week.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:03 PM   #12
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Thanks Steve, that is exactly the info we needed. AAA said the same thing about Tioga Pass as you said.

John
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CA Streamer
... You will need to pay the $20 YNP entrance fee if you take 120. The fee is good for a week.
Get a $50 pass for all the NP and it's good for a year. Best deal ever. And if you're old, it only costs $20 and it's good forever (or so I've been told, I don't believe the forever part yet).

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Old 02-25-2008, 03:51 PM   #14
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I have gone up and down 120 to Groveland and back down with a 2006 Expedition with no problem. Very steep but very doable.

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