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Old 04-28-2016, 09:48 AM   #1
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I80 east from California via Gas Motorhome

We are deciding whether to drive 300 extra miles to I40 to avoid mountain driving on I80 with our 2013 34 foot gas motorhome towing a corolla. Should we be concerned about I80?

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Old 04-28-2016, 09:59 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by joannel View Post
We are deciding whether to drive 300 extra miles to I40 to avoid mountain driving on I80 with our 2013 34 foot gas motorhome towing a corolla. Should we be concerned about I80?
I camped with a couple who drove a 2002 35' Georgetown near Truckee and again at Boomtown in Reno. They were towing a Honda CRV.

They seemed to have no problem going up to 7,000 feet and back down to Sacramento many times.

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Old 04-28-2016, 10:09 AM   #3
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We drove I-80 East from the Bay Area all the way to Cheyenne in 2012. Just a long drive, but doable. We have driven up I-80 to Truckee a couple of times since then. We are planning to drive midway into Nevada in September on the way to Yellowstone. If it's the mountains that worry you, going South to I-40 you still have to get over the Tehachapi's out of Bakersfield. That's a climb too. I guess it depends on you ultimate destination.

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Old 04-28-2016, 11:23 AM   #4
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We have driven that route many times with 36 ft towing a 4400 lb. explorer and no problems. biggest headache is donner pass section, with heaavy truck traffic. Where will you be starting from? If you are in Northern Calif., best route is up hiway 70 to 395 at hallelluja Jct. then in to Reno and pickup I-80.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:35 AM   #5
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Take I80 - while a bit higher the grades are not as steep. We caravan with friends with a similar setup to yours and they make it just fine. The suggestion of taking 70 is a good one if your still concerned.

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Old 04-28-2016, 12:40 PM   #6
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The engine and transmissions on these motor homes are just fine in the mountains as long as you're not insisting on going 75 up and down. On the uphill pulls, let the trans take the gears down but be prepared to downshift to keep your RPM's up so the engine cools well. On the downhills, keep the speed down by downshifting to a lower gear, and do not ride the brakes. Again, accept whatever speed you get to allow the engine/trans to control your speed. Slow is good and will not harm anything beyond your pride. I've driven a lot of hills with trucks and motor homes and would never consider changing a route because of mountains. We've been driving to Alaska since 2006 in 3 different MH, so we've seen a few hills.
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Old 04-28-2016, 01:49 PM   #7
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Don't worry I80 is nothing compared to driving into Death Valley from the west (NEVER doing that again!)

Just went up to Donner Summit earlier this month, we are 32' long, but no toad this time. Keeping it at 50 mph was not a problem.

As stated before, keep the revs up and gears low. I've heard a saying, whatever speed or gear you climb a hill, keep it exactly the same going down the other side and there shouldn't be any problems. Don't ride the brakes. Let your speed creep up 5 or so mph, apply the brakes forcefully to slow down, then take your foot off the pedal. You'll be fine.

As for Death Valley, we were towing our Honda Pilot (4500 lbs.) The last pass is something like 5 or 6 miles long to the top, even further on the drop down into the valley. We were in 2nd (maybe even 1st) gear the engine at almost 5000 rpm doing 20 to 25 mph the whole way up and then he whole way down the other side. Talk about the longest 30 minute drive of my life! Thought we'd never get there, but the V-10 took it like champ and kept on going. Fortunately it was spring time, but still close to 90 outside. Next time we're coming in from Vegas, in the winter. It was worth it, stark but beautiful.
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Old 04-28-2016, 03:47 PM   #8
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We have been over that summit hundreds of times in 40 years. Our rv's were tt, campers, Class C's pulling toads, Class A pulling toad, DP pulling toad.

You may be down to 45 or even less if you get stuck behind a truck but you will get there and it is not that far. Watch your engine temps of course and enjoy the view.
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Old 04-28-2016, 05:36 PM   #9
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If it's the stretch between Reno & Sacramento, nothing to worry about. We did it in the other direction with a 37' Class A pulling a C-RV about 2 years ago. Beautiful drive.
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Old 04-28-2016, 06:18 PM   #10
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The Interstate highway was designed to have a maximum 6 % grade. They did have to make a couple exceptions but still the steepest grade is only 8% near Chattanooga . so the bottom line is that it pretty much doesn't matter which route you take.

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Old 04-28-2016, 06:47 PM   #11
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If you're going as far as Utah, I find the hill east of Salt Lake City is tougher than climbing Donner Pass. But I've done them in both my gasser and my DP while towing with no problem.

As others have said, take it slow and downshift on the downhills.
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Old 04-28-2016, 07:34 PM   #12
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If you use Google Earth for directions ... and then click on the path ... [show elevation] will come up ... you can see that there are three uphill grades between Sacramento and Cheyenne ... Donner Pass, east of Salt Lake City, and just east of Laramie ... all of them are easily doable in a gas rig ... thousands do it every year.

I-80 is the lowest way to cross the Rockies ... the highest point is just east of Laramie ... just below 8000 feet ...

If you drop down to I-40 you will still have to climb Raton pass on I-25 which is about 7000 feet ... and there are a couple of good pulls before that after Santa Fe ...
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:30 AM   #13
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I've driven all of those passes including Vail pass on I 70. Did it with my 05 Winnebago Voyage on a Workhorse chassis pulling a Saturn SL2. If your not in a hurry it's not a problem. Just watch your down grade speed and use your gears to keep your decent at a safe comfortable speed. Also pay attention to your tachometer and downshift when you engine begins to drop out of the power band on the climbs. Don't let it get to the point where the engine begins to lug. You'll lose your momentum and it's hard to get it back. That also creates heat in the Trans and engine and is hard on both. You will be surprised at how good the system works.

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Old 04-29-2016, 01:37 PM   #14
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If you sit next to I-80 and observe what passes you'll see many, many gas motorhomes driving it.

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