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Old 05-27-2013, 12:29 PM   #1
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Route with least grade through Rockies

We are driving from Mississippi to Vancouver Island in about a month. Our plan is to take 2 weeks and stop in San Antonio, Big Ben, Carlbad Caverns and Grand Canyon along the way (to name a few). Any suggestions of other things to see or great campgrounds in these areas would be greatly appreciated.

We have a 1995 Coachmen Class A 37 ft motor home that will be pulling a Ford Freestyle vehicle. One of our biggest concerns is where to drive through the Rockies with the least grade and stress on our older motor home. Which route from Grand Canyon would have the least grade?

We will be traveling with 2 large dogs as well.

Thank you in advance.
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Old 05-27-2013, 12:34 PM   #2
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The flattest/easiest way is to take I-40 or I-10 through NM to Flagstaff, then to the Grand Canyon. Very little grade at all, in fact, it's virtually flat. Hope that helps - have a fun trip!
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:04 PM   #3
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Agree that I-40 is an easy drive.

Your GC visit will be enhanced by a stop at the Grand Canyon RV park in Williams, AZ. Spent a week there just a short while ago and really enjoyed it. It's modern, newer, within walking/biking distance of town and right next door to the train station...you can train up to the canyon, spend the night (or head back the same day) at one of the hotels and train back the next day. I love trains and splurged on a first class ticket. Very nice trip. The RV park is a little spendy, but, you're on a grand tour...enjoy it!

BTW, Williams is quite the town. Very touristy, with most stores in old fashioned restored buildings, well worth a couple day visit. Great restaurants too. Also a great place to arrange for boat tours into the canyon.

Stay on I-40 over to I-5 then head north. Easy drive. Some long uphills here and there but not very steep for very long.
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:09 PM   #4
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Thank you. Are you suggesting going west on I40 and then perhaps taking the I15? Is there a good way to avoid the heavily populated areas of Los Angelos? Is the I58 from Barstow to Bakersfield to connect to the I5, a good route?
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:10 PM   #5
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For future reference , you may want to pick up one or both of these.


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A lot us have them. It gives you all the info you need.
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Old 05-27-2013, 01:30 PM   #6
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CA58 is a good route with a gentler westbound grade. In Barstow, from I40 go south for a couple miles to intersect with westbound CA58. CA58 is primarily divided 4 lane except for a few miles east and west of US395. There are some rather steep downhill sections from Tehachapi west but it is all divided 4 lane there. It crests at about 4100'. To follow CA58 to I5 you must jog north on CA58/US99 for a couple miles, then city traffic west to I5. Or, stay on US99 to Stockton or Sacramento to hook up with I5. US99 is divided 4 lane to Sacramento. It is an older road with some rough pavement but I5 has some rough spots too. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:18 PM   #7
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As stated I40 west is an easy drive. You will get to around 8K feet by Flagstaff, but the grade is so gradual you will not notice it at all. Do as Clifftall suggests and buy the mountain guides as they are great.

From there continue on I40 to Highway 58 at Barstow and then over the Tehachapi summit, about 4400 ft and an easy grade going west bound. You will avoid all L.A. traffic by using this route. At Bakersfield you can then go up 99 and merge over to I5 at several points.

I've done this drive several times and it is pretty easy.

You will again encounter a good grade in Northern California when you hit the Siskiyous near the OR border. Very doable, just take your time. Pretty much clear sailing after that to the border. Of course with that bridge down north of Seattle near Mt. Vernon you may have to detour. You could go up the Peninsula and take the ferry at Port Angeles as an option. There is also a ferry out of Seattle but I've never taken that one.

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Old 05-27-2013, 05:35 PM   #8
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Let me ask this question another way. While the I40 and I10 routes are easiest grade-wise, what is the easiest grade-wise while still being able to see and enjoy the grandeur of the Rockies?
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:37 PM   #9
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I like "I5 has some rough spots too".






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Old 05-27-2013, 08:23 PM   #10
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Let me ask this question another way. While the I40 and I10 routes are easiest grade-wise, what is the easiest grade-wise while still being able to see and enjoy the grandeur of the Rockies?
If you stay on interstates you will not see the beauty of the west. From the Grand Canyon (suggest you stay at Trailer Village IN the park for the best experience), then exit via Hwy 64 east to AZ Hwy 89 at Cameron, AZ. Then continue north on 89 to Alt 89 west to Jacob Lake. At the 89/Alt 89 intersection you will run into a closed highway on 89 to Page - under repairs for a road collaspe - so you'll have to take Alt 89. Continue on Alt 89 to Fredonia, AZ and if you want a very scenic route continue north on Utah 89 to I-70. Along this route you can take in Zion Nat'l Park and Bryce Nat'l Park. From I-70 there are just so many secondary roads to take depending on what you plan on seeing and stopping for.

As someone already stated, you should definitely order online the Mountain Director - West for detailed descriptions of the secondary roads. We have done just about every one during our 16 years of full-timing and they're no problem for us but others might not be as comfortable with them. It's best to study tabout hem yourself rather than taking someone's word. Everyone is different in their comfort level.

I would not recommend continuing from I-40/Grand Canyon, AZ over to Barstow, Calif to I-15 or over to I-5. It's a VERY boring drive with very few RV parks. Instead, from the Grand Canyon head north into Utah.
Have a good trip!
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:07 AM   #11
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So many great replies. Thank you all! Yes, we would like to balance between scenic and easier grade for our drive. We have ordered the Mountain Directory for the trip. I guess part of it will be whether we have the confidence in our motor home still by the time we get to the Rockies.

This is our first motor home and it is an older 1995 Class A. We will be pulling a vehicle so can park the motorhome at a campground and go out looking at the scenery in it, if need be.

We are very excited about this trip! Can anyone recommend more natural campgrounds? We are not big fans of the concrete jungles and prefer trees and privacy, especially as we are traveling with 2 dogs.

Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:30 AM   #12
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Once you are past the Grand Canyon you have already seen the worst mountain driving you will see. As for CA58 to I5, to avoid some traffic in Bakersfield, continue north on CA99 about 20 miles to CA 46, a much less congested drive.

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Old 05-28-2013, 12:39 PM   #13
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Once you leave grand canyon area I'd suggest you head north through Las Vegas (stop at the Hoover/Boulder Dam). North from Las Vegas on US 95 following signs to Reno and then 395 towards Susanville and then 44 & 89 to I-5. Beautiful scenery in Northern California on that route. But from Las Vegas to I-5 on that route is mostly two lane but easy driving in my opinion.
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:13 PM   #14
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We think Lassen NP is a scenic delight. The NP campgrounds on the north side of the park (CA44) will accomodate a motorhome. Explore the park in your towed vehicle. Do NOT access the park from the southside off CA36 in your motorhome due to grades, curves and narrow roadway. But that same road in your towed is fun and beautiful. We were there on our honeymoon 49 years ago and still look for excuses to return. From there it would be west on CA44 to I-5 over the Siskiyous to Oregon. Or- you could backtrack a bit on CA44, then north on CA89 to I-5. This route is mostly flat as I recall.
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