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Old 12-28-2014, 10:54 AM   #1
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Trip plan from Calif. to Denver in winter

Hoping someone out there can give me some travel advise. I will need to travel from Sacramento area to Denver in early to mid March pulling a 25 foot AS with a Dodge 1500. It's two wheel drive without snow tires. I am considering using I-80 or dropping down south and taking I-40. Another possibility is taking US50 out of the Reno area. It crosses Nevada and Utah then catches I70 in Eastern Utah. I have never traveled US50 and thus I don't know if it has high passes that would likely have snow or if there are campgrounds along the way that would be open in the winter.
If anyone know this route I would really appreciate your advice.

Hobo
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Old 12-28-2014, 11:29 AM   #2
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Take I-80 across Wyoming to Cheyenne, Wyoming and then south on I-25 to Denver.

Do not take I-70. Do not take Highway 50, 550 or any other route through the Colorado Mountains as it is still winter at the higher elevations. Ski season can run into June and July....

I would have to say that the majority, if not ALL 18 wheelers, use the I-80 route going across the high country. Rawlins, Wyoming is where the wind and snow can blow with road closures as a result for those Spring snows. There are plenty of Rest Areas to sit out the worst of weather and the next day is clear blue skies and warm.

March can be a wonderful, warm sunny drive... or a wet snow and blizzard conditions. One or two days one way or the other can change your experience. When coming to Salt Lake City and then turning north to Wyoming just check what weather is in Montana and northern Wyoming to "predict" what might be coming.

The Wyoming Highway Department will run three to four plows in one direction during the worst snow conditions. March is usually, usually... a beautiful time to cross the high country. All you need is one warm day and you are home free to Cheyenne and then have the wind blow you into Denver.

Good luck and listen to the forecasts. Expect wind at the worse.
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Old 12-28-2014, 12:00 PM   #3
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I have used Hwy 50 twice, once in the spring and once in the summer. I would not recommend it for winter travel. It's known as Americas Loneliest Hwy and for good reason. Although neither time I traveled it was I camping we did spend several nights in Baker NV visiting Great Basin NP and can highly recommend that if you have a chance during the warmer seasons. Lots of dispersed camping off Hwy 50 but not very pleasant during the winter. I would stick with interstate highways. Sorry if I went a bit off topic.


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Old 12-28-2014, 12:03 PM   #4
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Watch the weather. I80 and I70 are prone to close in the winter. Sometimes I80 is worse than I70. If the weather is bad then the last best route might be across I40 as you mention. You may have snow in the New Mexico high country or the I25 corridor.

Each year I go out to the NAB show in Vegas, early April, I end up more often than not on the I40 route due to weather on I70.
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Old 12-28-2014, 12:24 PM   #5
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It can snow anywhere along the way from Sacramento to Denver in early to mid March. In fact, March is one of the snowiest months in Colorado.

The further south the better. I-40 is a very busy highway and in Arizona it travels at fairly high elevations. At Albuquerque you take I-25 north and have to go over Raton Pass and Monument Hill—both can be quite "interesting". Or the weather can be fine until you get to Denver where lots of snow can be encountered. Colorado can and does limit travel by vehicles without snow tires or 4wd over passes in the winter when it is snowing.

Any other route can be much worse. US 50 is a nice drive, but in Nevada and western Utah is very remote and has lots of little passes. I-15 from Las Vegas to I-70 in Utah has passes once you get to I-70 and even higher ones in Colorado. I-80 is also very busy and further north.

I-10 is far south, but you have to take some route—probably I-25—north eventually.

You have the worst pickup truck for winter—no snow tires and rear drive only. The weight of the trailer tongue will help traction a bit, but it is still a crap shoot. Even with snows and 4wd, winter towing is not easy. I wouldn't even want to drive your truck without a trailer in a Colorado winter without snows and 4wd. I've done it with snows and 2wd and it was not fun.

So this is one of the worst times of year to tow a trailer with the worst winter tow vehicle. You might want to ship the trailer if the trailer really needs to be in Denver. January is one of the winter months with the least snow, so you could do better next month. No matter when you do this, plan on many extra days because you can't be sure when you will run into winter and have to hole up somewhere for days. I-40 to I-25 is your safest route, but be sure to check weather and road conditions frequently.

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Old 12-28-2014, 12:48 PM   #6
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It can snow anywhere along the way from Sacramento to Denver in early to mid March. In fact, March is one of the snowiest months in Colorado.

The further south the better. I-40 is a very busy highway and in Arizona it travels at fairly high elevations. At Albuquerque you take I-25 north and have to go over Raton Pass and Monument Hillóboth can be quite "interesting". Or the weather can be fine until you get to Denver where lots of snow can be encountered. Colorado can and does limit travel by vehicles without snow tires or 4wd over passes in the winter when it is snowing.

Any other route can be much worse. US 50 is a nice drive, but in Nevada and western Utah is very remote and has lots of little passes. I-15 from Las Vegas to I-70 in Utah has passes once you get to I-70 and even higher ones in Colorado. I-80 is also very busy and further north.

Great info. Thanks


I-10 is far south, but you have to take some routeóprobably I-25ónorth eventually.

You have the worst pickup truck for winteróno snow tires and rear drive only. The weight of the trailer tongue will help traction a bit, but it is still a crap shoot. Even with snows and 4wd, winter towing is not easy. I wouldn't even want to drive your truck without a trailer in a Colorado winter without snows and 4wd. I've done it with snows and 2wd and it was not fun.

So this is one of the worst times of year to tow a trailer with the worst winter tow vehicle. You might want to ship the trailer if the trailer really needs to be in Denver. January is one of the winter months with the least snow, so you could do better next month. No matter when you do this, plan on many extra days because you can't be sure when you will run into winter and have to hole up somewhere for days. I-40 to I-25 is your safest route, but be sure to check weather and road conditions frequently.

Gene
Great info Gene. Thanks.
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Old 12-28-2014, 02:31 PM   #7
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"Gene: Any other route can be much worse. US 50 is a nice drive, but in Nevada and western Utah is very remote and has lots of little passes."
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While stuck on Highway 50 southwest of Delta, Utah it creates a great opportunity. You can dig for fossil Trilobites along the House Range on "old" Highway 50. Also a great Ice Cream stop on the west side of Austin, Nevada.

So far in my experiences while towing, I have yet to pass someone from California that let snow, tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, mud slides, earthquakes, high winds and meteor's striking the highway pavement, slow down, impede or divert their travel from Sacramento to Denver.

I-80 avoids hurricanes, mud slides, earthquakes, most meteorites and Texans with 14 inch tires that have no traction, even in Texas. Like we do in Wyoming and Colorado... put your flashers on, wear a colorful flowered short sleeve shirt and shorts... and all will be fine.

Do not listen to the Doom and Gloomers on the Forum. They are all relatives of mine and want to scare you from coming. Take your time, listen to the weather reports and if you do get stuck... Gene can pull you out. Travel from Grand Junction is always easy, as this town is for those who like sunny and warm weather all 12 months out of the year in Colorado. The Watermelon, Cantalope and Wine Belt of the Rockies, next to Green River, Utah in mild climate conditions with ocean views.
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Old 12-28-2014, 02:58 PM   #8
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Crossing thru the Sierras, Wasatch and Rocky Mountains?...the best route depends on the weather report the day before you leave.
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Old 12-28-2014, 03:43 PM   #9
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I've done this in April, and have to say that mojo nailed it. In the best of weather conditions there is nothing to this, in the worst conditions it cannot be done by anybody driving anything! In my case going north to route 80 was better than either 70 or 40. Hopefully you can pick when to make this trip.
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Old 12-28-2014, 03:50 PM   #10
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"Gene: Any other route can be much worse. US 50 is a nice drive, but in Nevada and western Utah is very remote and has lots of little passes."
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While stuck on Highway 50 southwest of Delta, Utah it creates a great opportunity. You can dig for fossil Trilobites along the House Range on "old" Highway 50. Also a great Ice Cream stop on the west side of Austin, Nevada.

So far in my experiences while towing, I have yet to pass someone from California that let snow, tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, mud slides, earthquakes, high winds and meteor's striking the highway pavement, slow down, impede or divert their travel from Sacramento to Denver.

I-80 avoids hurricanes, mud slides, earthquakes, most meteorites and Texans with 14 inch tires that have no traction, even in Texas. Like we do in Wyoming and Colorado... put your flashers on, wear a colorful flowered short sleeve shirt and shorts... and all will be fine.

Do not listen to the Doom and Gloomers on the Forum. They are all relatives of mine and want to scare you from coming. Take your time, listen to the weather reports and if you do get stuck... Gene can pull you out. Travel from Grand Junction is always easy, as this town is for those who like sunny and warm weather all 12 months out of the year in Colorado. The Watermelon, Cantalope and Wine Belt of the Rockies, next to Green River, Utah in mild climate conditions with ocean views.
Ray,
You should publish a western states tour guide to cool places. I'd definitely buy a copy.

Ken
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Old 12-28-2014, 05:24 PM   #11
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I don't think it has been above freezing for a week or more at my house, but I do live half a mile above Grand Junction. It was 9˚ yesterday morning here and we have several inches of snow on the ground. Down in the GJ tropics it has been slightly above freezing for the last week, 20's at night. As you go east, you move from the tropics to the subtropics to temperate and then arctic.

I could pull you out with my Tundra, but I'm pretty busy for the next decade or two. There's talk of building a nuclear power plant in Green River, so you could be quite warm there.

Gotta get in the basement; another group of meteorites are coming….

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Old 12-28-2014, 06:22 PM   #12
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Wow! I wasn't expecting meteorites, but seriously thanks to everyone for all the valuable advice. This forum is really great. Sounds like we could face a real adventure making the trip in March. One factor that I left out is that I am 73 and not really interested in a weather adventure. Perhaps I should delay our trip until April and take I40 to put the odds more in my favor.
Again, thanks everyone.........Hobo
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:36 AM   #13
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"Gene: Gotta get in the basement; another group of meteorites are coming…."

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OK... so you had to put on a light jacket and a military surplus helmet for the meteorites while picking grapes in December...
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:37 AM   #14
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Good plan Hobo. Since you are younger than me, I assure you that you will mature and be better able to drive in snow as you gain experience.

The 3 snowiest months in Colorado are November, March and April. It is pretty dry December through mid-February. Of course, weather is unpredictable. Last December Grand Junction had lots of snow, more than average. It has been very cold and snowy for a week and seems like for another week here. So averages are just another way to get confused.

It can snow in the mountains in summer, but you won't be that high up traveling. But I have seen 2" in the foothills west of Denver on June 21—"foothills" is deceiving because they are 7-9,000'. The snow looked very pretty atop the flowers.

The later you go, the better it should be (on the average). Weather can change fast and it can be 60˚ in Denver one day and 20˚ and snowing the next. There can be high winds coming off the Front Range raising temps and making it hard to pull a trailer up I-25 with the cross winds. The friction of the wind on the land raises temperatures and the next day it can be a blizzard. Life here is an adventure. But we also have many, many days of clear blue skies, low humidity and comfortable temperatures. By spring you can get beautiful cool days and cold nights, clear skies too.

We have often traveled as late as early December and in late April. We watch the weather carefully and are ready to delay if the roads have to be cleared. We only got snowed on once—out on the plains with a 40 mph crosswind on I-70. The 18 wheelers were off the road. It is a credit to the Airstream's design (and the Equalizer hitch) that it just kept going straight behind me. Of course, we had 4wd and snow tires.

Through you will be coming from Cal., you appear to live in Ill. You should understand winter, so that is a plus.

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