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Old 11-12-2017, 08:39 PM   #1
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Question I-5 in January north to south

We are thinking of travelling from Vancouver Island to California in our Class A motor home this coming January. We are wondering about the highway conditions at this time of year on the I-5 and is this the best route? We do not relish driving in snow or hitting severe snow conditions. Are there areas that we should be concerned about, any suggestions the group might have will be helpful. Thanks!

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Old 11-12-2017, 08:49 PM   #2
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just s of medford ore is siskiyou summit-north of yreka is black butte summit, snow and chain controls on both during storms. jan in n ca can be 70 degrees or cold winter storms. just layover in medford if snow is predicted.

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Old 11-12-2017, 09:02 PM   #3
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For CA, the Siskiyou Pass (OR/CA border) and the Grapevine north of LA are typically the only risk areas for chain controls and/or winter storms along the 5.

The CHP will NOT let you pass without chains and often jump from "carry chains" to closure with little warning.
For up to the minute conditions, see:

Southbound in the Siskiyou is less restrictive. Last time we transited there from OR to CA, we were only made aware of the chain restrictions as we passed Cal Trans signage fixed for the northbound traffic.

For OR and WA, I will yield.

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Old 11-12-2017, 09:58 PM   #4
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Depending on where, and if, going to Las Angeles and south, consider going east at Bakersfield and down thriugh the Cajon Pass. Bypassing the Grapevine.
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Old 11-12-2017, 10:04 PM   #5
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I did a round trip to Arizona 2 years ago. Drove our 34' A with toad back. I agree that the only places of concern are the Siskiyou Pass and the Grapevine. Oregon requires that you carry chains during the winter months. We had them for both the MH and the car but didn't need them. Highways were bare and wet.

As stated, conditions can change quickly so watch the weather sites and be flexible. I'd rather wait a day or two than have to install the chains.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:38 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your very valuable information. Will post which route we actually take.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:52 AM   #7
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The summit on CA 58, east of Bakersfield, is almost the same altitude as the I-5 Grapevine at over 4100 feet. If there is snow both are likely to have it. CA 58 may still be a better choice unless you are planning to visit Los Angeles itself. If you are headed to San Diego or the Palm Springs area my choice would be to use CA 58 to I-15 south.
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:39 AM   #8
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Could always take 101 down the coast.....
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:19 PM   #9
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I might add that when I did my trip 2 years ago, I did take 99 from Sacramento to Bakersfield, then CA 58 east. US99 was in good shape southbound. On the way back, we hit I5 over the Grapevine. AS I recall that was also pretty good road but I5 from there back to Sacramento northbound was one of the worst rides I've ever been on.
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:30 PM   #10
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Check D.O.T. sires for road conditions.. Wa. and OR.
Suggest I-5 till about Salem, check pass conditions, then decide if I-5 or 101down coast.
Then decide on route!!
Safe Travels!!
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Old 11-13-2017, 12:46 PM   #11
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I've traveled the I-5 in the first week of Dec. and hit rotten conditions , one month later in Jan . bare and dry the whole way.


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Old 11-14-2017, 09:52 AM   #12
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Have driven that route many time in the MH. Or and Wa are OK 98% of the time. Sometimes a snow storm can hit any portion of I-5 - Just pay attention the local reports. It will get plenty of advanced coverage if that is a possibility.

As pointed out the Siskiyou's are another matter. Just check Caltrans website. They are darn good about posting conditions. GENERALLY, even if it is snowing, the road is maintained in pretty good condition and you should be OK. Travel in the middle of the day and start close to the pass. Grants Pass is a good place to launch from but other Oregon cities will work as well. The entire "danger area" is less than a 2 hour drive so don't stress about it, you should be fine with proper planning.

Keep the fuel tanks as full as possible, propane toped up and enough fresh water for a few days if you get stuck somewhere.
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Old 11-14-2017, 10:34 AM   #13
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Been doing the I5 route from Olympia every year for ten years leaving Jan 10th. Use Seven Feathers RV park to stage the pass's into Cali. Had on e year where we departed two hours late because of snow. Most years nice, couple years hard rain, couple years a little snow on the ground. Just dropped my speed a little and stayed with the trucks. As you come south just keep an eye on the road condition and be prepared to do the coast or hold up a couple days at Seven Feathers, very nice campground and Casino,shuttle so you don't unblock at the long pull throughs, full service. Carry chains as they are mandatory to be carried, I will sit before putting them on.

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Old 11-14-2017, 11:06 AM   #14
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Good advice on layup points. 7 Feathers is at mp 99 in OR, nice sites and good food too. Didn't stop the last time through though.

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