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Old 11-29-2015, 05:22 PM   #1
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Need Info re:RV Winter Travel on I-5 in Northwest

We have a new Tiffin 40' Phaeton and had planned on leaving Dec 10 from Florida this year (2015) and heading to Seattle Wash for Christmas and New Years.
We planned to generally travel via I-10 to I-5.
In doing some research, we are reading that most of northern I-5 (northern CA, OR, & WA) requires all vehicles to carry one set of chains plus an additional set of chains in case of breakdown.
We had not planned on purchasing chains nor in putting them on.
We had just planned that if a section of the road got bad, we would wait it out.
Now we are wondering if we can even make the trip before April.
Does anyone have any experience traveling in this area during the winter?
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Old 11-29-2015, 05:56 PM   #2
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It's a crap shoot as to the weather then for northern cali and north. If you really have to travel there then, watch the weather forecasts and watch for a opening of a few days.

As for chains. We carry chains to meet the law requirement to have them. But have no plan to ever put them on. Instead will just hole up somewhere till we can proceed without them. Years ago when I bought, NAPA had them at reasonable price.

We carry plenty of food, water, fuel, and propane in case of need to hole up a few days.

Is your coach freezing weather ready?
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Old 11-29-2015, 06:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
It's a crap shoot as to the weather then for northern cali and north. If you really have to travel there then, watch the weather forecasts and watch for a opening of a few days.

As for chains. We carry chains to meet the law requirement to have them. But have no plan to ever put them on. Instead will just hole up somewhere till we can proceed without them. Years ago when I bought, NAPA had them at reasonable price.

We carry plenty of food, water, fuel, and propane in case of need to hole up a few days.

Is your coach freezing weather ready?
Good question! Probably not. The coach will not be ready to pick up until about Dec 10 in Tampa Fl. So we will need to take care of that before we leave.

Thanks for the feedback tho. Guess that we better pick up a set (0r 2 sets?) of tire chains to carry.

Guess we will have to contact Tiffin tomorrow to find out what size the tire chains need to be.

Thanks so much for the feedback.
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Old 11-29-2015, 06:35 PM   #4
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Good question and one we run into up here. WA law only requires you to carry chains on certain passes, none of which are on I-5. One other thing is that a vehicle towing anything else is considered a "combination vehicle". The laws on speed limits and even lane usage change for them.
Here's a link to the WA law: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/CommercialVehicle/chain_req.htm
I haven't invested in chains for this MH yet, just not going anywhere this winter because of DW's health.
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Old 11-29-2015, 06:54 PM   #5
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Never been checked for chains unless chain law was up. CA and OR will not let you move without chains they have a guy on the road before you get to the snow to stop you
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Old 11-29-2015, 07:01 PM   #6
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As a Cal resident, I have no knowledge of Cal having such a law. (Was stopped going into Yosemite about a decade ago in our FT4WD Grand Cherokee. Snowing pretty good. Most people were being turned back. The ranger told me that he was required to ask but could not look. He told me my vehicle would handle the situation & to have fun. He was right. I did.) The freeway passes in Cal where snow closures happen go as far south as Cajon in So Cal. I seriously doubt if any of us carry chains. You just watch the weather and wait to go until things are looking good. Finally. All the freeway passes that experience closure in Cal (and I'm in Redding right now) get opened right back up as soon as possible. I wouldn't worry about chains for Cal. But be advised that weather is for cast to be real wet this winter. Many we're hoping!
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Old 11-29-2015, 07:04 PM   #7
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We live in MT, WA, & OR and have found the following:

1. We (and others) were checked at a Cle Elem, WA rest area for chains by a WA State Patrol trooper while waiting out sudden bad weather. We had chains on board but others didn't and that equals a ticket.

2. OR requires chains to be carried on all their roads during the winter months, not just mountain passes.

3. If you need to put the chains on - PAY SOMEONE! There will be a tow truck driver around whose willing to do it. It takes no effort to be miserable. Then go slow.

4. Do your research and get good low profile chains. I got mine at NAPA and $300.00 is cheap insurance.

5. Why two (2) sets? One fulfills the laws requirement.
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Old 11-29-2015, 11:16 PM   #8
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we make the same run sometimes a couple times a year. I watch the weather especially the siskus in northern California. That's the only section of your route I get nervous. I do carry one set of cable chains to meet Oregon laws but don't intend on getting in that position. I would take 210 between the 10 and the 5 .Keeps you out of the la traffic via Pasadena. 5 is really rough in sections between 210 and the grapevine so best to just slow down. I seem to have stuff come loose in that area due bumps. After the grapevine you have a choice to stay on 5 or split to 99. They are about the same condition and run parallel to each other. 99 has a lot more services then i5 .They join back up in Sacramento. We get fuel at Tejon ranch which is at the bottom of the grapevine.
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:40 AM   #9
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I have lived at the base of Siskiyou Summit for 35 years. Been over the pass innumerable times and have never had to chain up. Why, because I don't go if conditions don't permit chainless driving. We have spent up to three days in Redding, CA waiting for chain restrictions to be removed. Crazy people left on day two of that situation. They were chained up from just north of Redding to just south of Ashland. I can't remember if the trip was taking 3 or 4 times normal amount.

We adjust departure and return times based on conditions. We have never had change plans by more than a couple of days. Tripcheck.com is the source for Oregon road conditions. In California use the Caltrans website. There are four low passes north of Siskiyou Summit but they only occasionally have winter conditions.

Make your plans, watch the weather and adjust your trip base on conditions.
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Old 12-01-2015, 06:18 PM   #10
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at williams cal take hiway 20 over to 101 and follow the coast north . it might be rainy and a little windy but no snow plus it is a beautiful drive.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:34 PM   #11
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In the 15 years I have lived in Southern Oregon I find that I-5 in Southern Oregon and/or Northern California can be closed longer than a day but that is rare. We have overnighted along the side of the highway along with tractor trailers waiting for the chain restrictions to be lifted on I-5. Patience is good - make sure you have necessary supplies for dry camping a night or two.
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:01 AM   #12
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Chains are required in a number of areas so we do carry a set even though I would park and wait out the requirement to install them rather than put them on. I checked for my tire size on Amazon and bought the cheapest set available as they are for show only in case I get checked.

North of the California border to about Canyonville is the only section on I-5 commonly impacted by snow and chain-up restrictions. As an alternative, if you run into this, you can also go over to the coast to get around that section of mountain road. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and road conditions and if they look questionable, take the following coastal route.

Off I-5:
  • Turn west onto Hwy-20 at Williams, CA
  • Follow Hwy-20 until you join up with Hwy-101 just west of Lake Mendocino
  • Head north on Hwy-101 to Reedsport, OR (392 miles)
  • Turn east on Hwy-38 and follow it back to I-5 (exit 162). You'll turn left in Drain, OR
This route avoids all of the mountain passes and higher risk snowfall areas.

Enjoy your new coach.
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Old 12-04-2015, 08:18 AM   #13
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Thank you for this recommendation, Ron. How long does it take to get to Williams, CA via this route?
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Old 12-04-2015, 09:50 AM   #14
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Thank you for this recommendation, Ron. How long does it take to get to Williams, CA via this route?
Travel time varies considerably for one driver verse another based upon your travel style. To provide an apples-to-apples comparison I entered both routes into Google Maps.

The coastal bypass route is 528 mi with an estimated drive time of 10 h 2 min compared to 383 mi at 5 h 32 min going straight through on I-5.

There is no doubt that the coast diversion is a good deal longer and slower but most of the other east-west roadways either go over passes where you are more likely to encounter snow or they are very twisty and unsuitable or even illegal for a big rig to traverse.
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