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Old 07-31-2020, 03:54 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 43
Ames IA to San Diego

I'm currently in Ames, and still heading for San Diego. Thinking about three routes:

1) I80 all the way to Sacramento, then down CA

2) 80 to Salt Lake City, then down 15 through Utah

3) 80 to 76 to 70 to 15 - basically across Nebraska then diagonally SW across Colorado. I'll still see half of Utah.

I'm leaning toward #2 because I'm told the scenery in Utah is breathtaking, and I've been up and over the Rockies through Denver before.

My biggest concerns are overheating - both the rig and me I'm washing the outside of the radiator tomorrow and hoping that helps with the engine overheating that I experienced in eastern Pennsylvania, but I'm also concerned about rolling through Death Valley with the stock AC in this motor home.

Sacramento has never been on my must-visit list, especially in the summer heat, but I'll take that route if it's the best/safest for me.

Advice welcome!

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Old 07-31-2020, 04:18 PM   #2
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If you are worried about grades then why even think about CO?

You won't seen much of Utah's scenery from I-15 other than some red rock now and then. The major scenery is east of I-15 for the most part. And I-15 goes no where near Death Valley.

I suspect you coolest route would be I-80 to SF then the 101 south. It's 90+ deg right now in far northern Montana so I think your window for finding cool temps has passed you by unless you wait a couple of months.

Maybe stop and get a radiator flush and check the fan belt.

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Old 07-31-2020, 05:05 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply This is why I'm checking in here - looking for people who have been there and done that.

I don't know that much about the Rockies - I'll have to cross them in Wyoming too, right? From your comment I'm gathering that they're just not as steep in Wyoming as Colorado? Or perhaps the passes are not as high? Either would be good for me.


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Old 07-31-2020, 05:30 PM   #4
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Did you plug those into Google Maps to see the distances? Google Maps gave me these preferred routes:

1780 miles - I-80 to I-76 to Denver I-70 to I-15 to I-15 in Utah. I-15 south to St. George to I-215 in California

1786 miles - I-35 to Kansas City, I-335 to I-40 west to Holbrook, AZ, 377/260 to Payson, AZ; 87 south to Phoenix to I-10 to 85 to Gila Bend, AZ then I-8 to San Diego.

Of these 2 the most scenic is #1 - I-70 from Denver but you'll have some big mountains to cross.

The second route is a lot easier driving and scenic from Holbrook AZ to Phoenix. If you're having radiator problems this would be the route to take for less mountains but it's going to be hot temps. You might want to cross from Phoenix to San Diego super early in the morning... like leave at 4am. It's even hot at 10pm so morning would be best to cross the deserts unless you want to drive through the night. Carry any maintenance supplies you may need for the RV and plenty of water.

Your 3 choices:

#1 you'll have a biggie.... Donner Pass into Sacramento & an assortment of smaller hills along the way. It would be the coolest temps overall than any of the others.

I-70 is more scenic across Colorado than I-80 across Wyoming but I-70 has some big mountains.

If taking I-70 across Colorado it makes sense to take the I-76 diagonal to Denver.

All those big cities don't appeal to me. I'm used to weaving around via secondary highways.

(You might want to create a Signature Line so we can see what you're driving. It helps in replies.)
Full-timed for 16 Years . . .
Traveled 8 yr in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Diesel
& 8 yr in a 33' Travel Supreme 5th wheel
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:44 AM   #5
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First you have to decide if you want to go through Colorado and do the mountain driving through there. Beautiful but it's mountain driving. You also have to consider peak summer vacation traffic in Colorado and Utah as it relates to overnight stays.

We live in Des Moines and drive to the southwest frequently.

My suggestion would be to take I-35 south out of Ames and get down to Wichita, KS. Take US-54 from Wichita, diagonally across Kansas, all the way down to Tucumcari, New Mexico. From there, it's I-40 towards California and then either I-40, I-10, or I-8 into southern California.
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Old 08-01-2020, 08:28 AM   #6
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i'd second the route that two gypies mentioned the included i-40 to holbrook and then down through payson to phoenix then i-10 to 85 down to gila bend and then i-8 into san diego. there will still be some ups and downs on this route but they are not as severe as going across colorado.

the i-70, i-15, i-215 is all interstate which is at least 4 lane divided highway. the other route does have stretches of 2 lane undivided highway between holbrook and phoenix and between i-10 to casa grande. but they are well maintained roads and have passing lanes. they are used by semis all the time as this is the most direct route from phoenix and points west to i-40 going east.

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