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Old 10-11-2011, 11:48 AM   #1
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West coast travel route

We plan our first trip south, Az. this winter, and were trying to figure out the route with less mountains. Have chains but don't wan't to have to use them. We live in Central Wa. and would lilke to leave in January. I know it depends on weather conditions, but wondering if any one up here has a favorite route. Any info appreciated.

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Old 10-11-2011, 12:25 PM   #2
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Just a bit of advice here: don't even think about putting chains on your motorhome.
Some places require you to have them, but I don"t know anyone that has put them on.

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:01 PM   #3
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the roads are junk but that time of year i would go down I5 to bakersfield n turn left to az.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:10 PM   #4
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Go south west to US101 and follow it as far south as your heart desires before turning east.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:23 PM   #5
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All good advice so far IMO. Depends on how big a hurry you're in. We like 101 but we're never in a hurry. To get from point A to point B I'd go I5 to Bakersfield and then east via 58... I think is the road.

Ditto the remark on chains. I'd never put them on my rig....

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Old 10-12-2011, 01:24 PM   #6
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When you cross from Or to Ca you have the Siskiyou Summit at over 4,000 feet level. At that time of year chains may be required over the summit and its monitored on both sides of border . If chain control is on, and you don't have chains on, face the fines.
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Old 10-12-2011, 03:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Wayne MD View Post
When you cross from Or to Ca you have the Siskiyou Summit at over 4,000 feet level. At that time of year chains may be required over the summit and its monitored on both sides of border . If chain control is on, and you don't have chains on, face the fines.
Funny how other jurisdictions have found chains to be a detriment to the safe operation of vehicles.

I watched traction and vehicle control testing that was done on the ice of Chippewa Bay of lake Superior one winter and vehicles without chains but good snow tires faired way better in the acceleration and deceleration tests as well as the manoeuvrings tests.

Studded tires did not fair much better than chains. Good snow tires are hard to beat for safety.
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:43 PM   #8
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Unless your departure and arrival dates are locked in,, you might keep track of weather forecasts along your route and try to time your departure when the mountain passes are clear. Then if the weather turn nasty along the way, you can lay-over until it clears.
That is how we travel when the weather can go South (pun intended) at any time. I remember one time we holed-up a week waiting for a break in weather.
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:43 PM   #9
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If you have plenty of time to travel, any route will work. You just wait out the storms and leave a little later in the morning to avoid icy spots. Here in Spokane, when it's snowing the roads are a nasty mess. Almost the next day, they're clean and dry. I-90 is plowed as soon as possible and kept pretty darn clear of snow and ice.

My ideal route would be I-90 east through Montana to I-15 then south. Once you're in southern Utah you're mostly clear of snow. From Spokane that would be about three days of driving. Of course getting through Montana is the tricky part.

If you are going down through California, my vote is to take Hwy. 99 instead of I-5. It's a lot more interesting, almost as fast and mostly a divided highway. You turn onto 99 from I-5, just south of Red Bluff and it mergers with I-5 again at Bakersfield. Hwy. 58 goes up over the Tehachapi pass then down into Mojave. After that it's clear sailing to AZ.

That route was my drive from college to home back in the day. It was me, my '72 VW van and my dog. Ahhh, those were the days!
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Old 10-12-2011, 06:12 PM   #10
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Was just over Lookout summit on I-90 at the Montana/Idaho border a couple of weeks ago. Be aware there is quite a stretch of roadway that is under construction, and the lanes are rough, and really narrow (concrete barriers) for a motorhome. Would be no place to take a motorhome in the snow. I would go hwy 101 that time of year.

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Old 10-12-2011, 07:45 PM   #11
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We leave Olympia in Jan and head for Quatzsite. And plan on sitting at 7-feathers casino for weather, so far we just spend the night and have good road by time we leave at a comfortable time. I would from central WA head for I-84 to Portland then I-5 to Bakersfield at the Orange grove(for a great CG and free oranges) then over the top for Quartzsite and the RV show. If we are early we spand a few days around Parker on the river.

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Old 10-12-2011, 09:17 PM   #12
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We leave Seattle right after Christmas. So crossing the Siskyous and Shasta is always a concern. Except last year we made it fine but the Grapevine and Tehachapi in California were both closed due to snow-----all traffic was shuttled to 101.

We have never had trouble with snow because we plan very carefully and never get in a hurry. But we are always concerned. I watch the Oregon and California DOT cameras. You can see real time conditions. WE have the DOT number for highway info---in Oregon 511. We check the 10 day weather forcast closely and pick the days to head out. So far with planning we have avoided snow on the road---sloppy, cold, wet but no snow.

When we get an hour out from Ashland my wife calls 511 for the Siskyou summit and we get the report---we try to hit it about 1 pm---if it is good we go---if not then we have time to find a place to stay. Basically getting out of Washington on I-5 you have one worrisome day----we stop in Coburg and the Premier RV Resort and then leave the next day--after checking the pass reports and using the computer for the real time look.

It is about 297 miles Coburg to Redding and Premier RV Resort (yep same folks nice places to stay) and when you get to Redding it is pretty much clear sailing from there on.

We carry chains because Oregon is a carry chain state. I hope to never use them but I am prepared and legal.

It is pretty difficult to get from here to AZ without at least facing a few mountains.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:04 AM   #13
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I have to disagree about snowtires being as good as chains, even on flat terrain like around Lake Superior.

Throw even slight inclines in the formula and only tracked vehicles outperform chains(not cables).
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Old 10-14-2011, 03:38 PM   #14
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Can't help you with WA or OR but coming down the 101 through CA is a great idea, weatherwise, just avoid San Francisco. Although, we have driven straight through SF pulling a 38' 5th wheel with no problem. Come all the way down the 101 to Ventura and head east on the 126 to the 5, go south to the 210 east. The 210 goes all the way across the Los Angeles area and dumps you onto the I 10, then off to AZ you go. I wouldn't want to go through Flagstaff at that time of the year either.

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