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Old 10-20-2019, 05:42 AM   #1
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Eastern vs Western Mountain Driving?

After surviving driving though the mountains of Virginia I am wondering how much different is this from driving in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Montana? There was one campground that I had to drive about 8 miles on narrow, twisting, up and down and a narrow bridge to get to. To make it worse when I left yesterday morning my windshield quickly fogged up while doing this. It was clear until I went over the bridge and started climbing. Prior to getting to North Carolina on I-81 there was a long 7 mile downhill stretch. My engine brake did a great job on this.

I have also done I-40 through Asheville and Knoxville a few times with no issues.
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Old 10-20-2019, 07:15 AM   #2
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I live in the Appalachians, so I drive the motorhome often in "eastern grades". I've also taken the motorhome across the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, Cascades and Canadian Rockies.

Each are difficult for different reasons. In general terms, eastern grades are shorter, but they are usually twistier with sharper turns at the bottom of grades. Yes, western grades are longer and require more work from your vehicle, but western grades are more technical, requiring more attention from the driver.

Of course, this isn't in all situations, but it's a general statement that I find to be true after many miles of driving both.
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Old 10-20-2019, 07:30 AM   #3
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so far in the last 7 months 20 states of full timing we have done the rockies, black hills, smokies and the appalachans mountains we prefer out west.

i was from the north east (ny) moved to az in 97 out west is best imho
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Old 10-20-2019, 07:36 AM   #4
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I am at the Grand Canyon right now, and we have been through norther NM, southern UT and northern AZ the last week. Lots of long slow uphill climbs, lots of heave on many of the roads that feels almost like proposing,and sway, though at least where we have been the grades have rarely been over 6 or 7%, they just sometimes go on for miles. One thing that did surprise me was the poor condition of the pavement of some US highways.
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Old 10-20-2019, 08:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by reubenray View Post
After surviving driving though the mountains of Virginia I am wondering how much different is this from driving in Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Montana?

There was one campground that I had to drive about 8 miles on narrow, twisting, up and down and a narrow bridge to get to.
Generally speaking most of the back Roads in the East tend to be more Narrow and just Tighter, whereas out West the Grades are longer and because you are generally Gaining or Losing a lot more altitude require you to be much more attentive on the Long DownHill stretches.

As I grew up in the East and Love to Drive in All the Mountains, what I have found that for me personally you need to be attentive to all the roads you take in both the East and the West, difference being is that the really tight roads in the West are Generally called 4X4 gravel Trails and in the East they just paved them and now they call them highways. -

I'll post a few Western Examples;
Alpine loop
Cottonwood Pass
Independence Pass
Empty Parking Lot in the Tetons NP - Not much chance you will see this.
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Old 10-20-2019, 01:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Busskipper View Post
Generally speaking most of the back Roads in the East tend to be more Narrow and just Tighter, whereas out West the Grades are longer and because you are generally Gaining or Losing a lot more altitude require you to be much more attentive on the Long DownHill stretches.

As I grew up in the East and Love to Drive in All the Mountains, what I have found that for me personally you need to be attentive to all the roads you take in both the East and the West, difference being is that the really tight roads in the West are Generally called 4X4 gravel Trails and in the East they just paved them and now they call them highways. -

I'll post a few Western Examples;
Alpine loop
Cottonwood Pass
Independence Pass
Empty Parking Lot in the Tetons NP - Not much chance you will see this.
Nope - I won't be driving any of these!!
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:20 PM   #7
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stay away from red mountain pass in the rockies outside of durango co.
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:35 PM   #8
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I've found this: https://www.mountaindirectory.com/ to be a useful source of information about specific mountain grades.

I grew up in the west and have driven there quite a bit, even though I've been transplanted east for quite some time.

Some of the older roads out west can be narrow enough that meeting oncoming traffic on the switchbacks can be a little "sporty". A friend of mine who drove logging trucks on some of those roads (the locals make CB radio calls announcing their location so as to avoid meeting each other on those switchbacks) suggested to me that "sometimes, you've just got to take the yellow." Meaning, you encroach on the oncoming lane so that your vehicle is on the yellow centerline. That can make oncoming traffic a little uncomfortable.

Those roads can be lots of fun to drive in an appropriate vehicle; not so much in a 45' motorhome towing. You could find yourself playing "chicken" with somebody who is less likely to "chicken out".

Take care,
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:36 PM   #9
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stay away from red mountain pass in the rockies outside of durango co.
What? This a favorite drive for us. We love staying in Silverton!!
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Old 10-20-2019, 04:02 PM   #10
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What? This a favorite drive for us. We love staying in Silverton!!
not in a 39 ft class A with a 8.5 x 20 trailer in tow
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:27 PM   #11
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Teton Pass between Jackson, (Wilson) WY and Victor, ID is 10% grade for about 5 miles both sides with a couple of 25- 30 MPH curves thrown in just to increase the Pucker Factor. Commercial vehicles over 60,000# are prohibited!

The Beartooth pass between the N/E corner of Yellowstone NP and RedLodge,MT gets you up to about 9,400ft between the pass and Red Lodge is steep and miles and miles of switchbacks one on top of the another.

Hwyís 14 and 14A in north central WY, I forget the stats but both of them also are very steep and get you up to the 9,000ft plus elevation and many 25- 30 MPH curves.

Even Hwy 20 going up the Ashton ďHILLĒ between Ashton, ID and West Yellowstone, MT is 6-7% for about 5 MIles.

Heck the elevation in my driveway is 4,739ft.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:51 AM   #12
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Its not a grade unless it has runaway truck ramps
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Old 10-22-2019, 07:05 AM   #13
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Its not a grade unless it has runaway truck ramps
Like this? Even better if it's hidden by the Snow!

I-70 looks and feels like your on top of the World. -
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:59 AM   #14
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Not mountain specific but a huge thing this flat lander observed out west was when the signs say "No Services for XX Miles", they mean it! There will nothing. Houses. Fuel. Stores. Horses. Cows. People. We took to looking for fuel at 1/2 tank.

But it sure is beautiful! Can't wait to go back.
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