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Old 10-27-2017, 10:08 AM   #1
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WI to Apache Junction AZ

Winnebago Class C, 33' Minnie Winnie, pulling Jeep Wrangler.
We have had our rig @2years and have decided to try a few months in AZ.
Leaving end of November, Route planned, so far:
WI to St Joseph MO
St Joseph MO to Dodge City KS
Dodge City to Albuquerque NM
Albuquerque NM to Apache Junction is my quandary.
Not hearing or reading much good about the road and grades from Albuquerque to Flagstaff to Apache Junction and of course the weather.
Question: Would I be better off going south on 25 from Albuquerque to Las Cruces then west on 10 to Apache Junction? I was surprised the miles really are not that different. But not sure if I am trading one set of steep grades/weather for another set.
First time trying this snowbird thing so any input appreciated.
Before I forget, does anyone carry chains or do you just wait the weather out? Thanks much to all, nervous, but the unknown will do that.
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:41 AM   #2
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The end of November can be iffy on I-40 between Albuquerque & Flagstaff. If you feel the miles are comparable I'd definitely take I-25 south. You could pick up 60 to Lakeside, AZ but then continuing on 60 to Globe you'll have the Salt River Canyon - a short steep downhill and short steep uphill. Then from Globe to Apache Junction on 60 you'll have a short steep downhill. They're all doable in a RV and many do it, including us with a 40' motorhome, as that route is very popular to cool off in the Arizona summers. It just depends how confident you are with your braking. Downshift before starting down - not in the midst.

You could also take I-25 south I-10 to to NM 70 and continue into AZ on 70 taking you to Safford, AZ and on to Globe and to the downhill between Globe & Superior.

You could also take I-10 and get on 77/79 at Tucson for a straight flat route to Hwy 60 at Apache Junction. 79 is very pleasant and usually minimal traffic unless you're doing it on a weekend. Avoid Friday and Sunday night.
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Old 10-27-2017, 10:59 AM   #3
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we do that trip every year from the Chicago suburbs to mesa, az.

the grade from ABQ to flagstaff is gradual from 5300' to a little more than 7000' on I-40. presumably you'll be picking up I-40 at Tucumcari, NM (elevation ~ 4000'). that will also be a gradual climb to ABQ. about 10-miles east of ABQ the climb will be a bit sharper but it's not long and it's not hard. that climb will be followed by a similar decent into the valley. as you leave ABQ westbound on I-40 there is one relatively steep, long pull about 5-mi west of town but again it's not really a problem. don't misunderstand you're always going up but it's not like your crossing the rockies in colorado.

I-40 in general is a pretty good road but as you get closer to the I-17/I-40 interchange it will turn rough. that roughness will continue has you move south on I-17 until you get past Camp Verde (elevation ~ 3100') at that point the road will smooth out but there are a couple of pretty good climbs just south of the Camp Verde exit. after that it's a general, slow descent into the phoenix valley (elevation ~ 1100').

to get to AZ Junction follow I-17 south to I-10 east to US 60 east (Superstition Freeway). US 60 is a multi-lane high-speed road similar to an urban interstate. US 60 will change to a low-speed 4-lane divided road as it enters Apache Junction. by the way, you'll only be on I-10 for a very short time. just watch for the signs on I-17 for US 60. your bigger issue will be potential winter weather around flagstaff.

as for the alternate route from ABQ I-25 south from town is a gradual decline to Las Cruces (~ 3900'). the last time we went that way it was a good road but unless you're specifically going to Las Cruces you can save yourself some time and miles by exiting I-25 at Hatch (exit 41) and follow SR 26 to Deming, NM.

from Las Cruces (or Deming) follow I-10 west either thru Tucson up to US 60 as outlined above or get off at Lordsburg, NM (~ 4250' @ exit 24) and follow US 70 to US 60 at Globe (~ 3500') and then west on 60 to AJ.

the website Mile-By-Mile provides pretty good information about roadways throughout the country. the east valley around AJ and the Superstition Mountains is beautiful. enjoy!


on edit: I didn't recommend I-25 south to US 60 (exit 150) at Socorro, NM because the farthest west we've been on US 60 from I-25 is to visit the Very Large Array 50-miles west of Socorro. if you go that way and you like all things space a visit to the VLA is well worth your time.
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Old 10-29-2017, 08:37 AM   #4
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We live in Mesa and have made the trip through ABQ a number of times. In November you would have to check the weather, but my preferred route would be I-40 to Holbrook, AZ then 377/277 to Heber and 260 to Payson and finally 87 to the East Valley. There are hills, but we went out and back in September with a 40 ft DP and tandem tow dolly (64 feet length) with no issues.
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Old 10-29-2017, 10:02 AM   #5
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For the last eight years we have driven from the Des Moines area to Arizona, usually the Phoenix area or Tucson. We do not go through St. Joseph, MO, to Dodge City, KS. We go west from Kansas City to Topeka, and then southwest to Wichita, then west on 400 to 54, and then follow 54 to Tucumcari, NM. From there which way we go depends on the weather. If we believe the weather is going to be decent, we would go west on 40 to Holbrook, the south through Payson to Apache Junction. I would not recommend getting on 60, and going through the Salt River Canyon! We did that on our first trip, and never again in the motorhome!

If we thought the weather was not going to be all that good, we would go west of Tucumcari, and go southwest at Santa Rosa on 54 to Alamogordo, then southwest on 70 to Las Cruces. There is a decent climb before getting to Alamogordo, but is not that bad going west, much steeper climb going the other way.

From Las Cruces, I would go west to Tucson, then north through Florence then to Apache, Junction. I would not recommend taking 70 from Lordsburg through Globe.

Hope this helps, and isnt too confusing.
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Old 10-29-2017, 12:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowellvahl View Post
We live in Mesa and have made the trip through ABQ a number of times. In November you would have to check the weather, but my preferred route would be I-40 to Holbrook, AZ then 377/277 to Heber and 260 to Payson and finally 87 to the East Valley. There are hills, but we went out and back in September with a 40 ft DP and tandem tow dolly (64 feet length) with no issues.
Lowell
We also live in Mesa, and have made that trip numerous times. That is our preferred route also.
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Old 10-29-2017, 01:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowellvahl View Post
We live in Mesa and have made the trip through ABQ a number of times. In November you would have to check the weather, but my preferred route would be I-40 to Holbrook, AZ then 377/277 to Heber and 260 to Payson and finally 87 to the East Valley. There are hills, but we went out and back in September with a 40 ft DP and tandem tow dolly (64 feet length) with no issues.
Lowell
We also like that route. Some grades but not as bad as I17 in my mind.
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:42 AM   #8
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Wow lots of good information and we appreciate all of it!
Being newbies we are thinking taking I-25 south from ABQ to Las Cruces then west to Tuscon then north on 79 thru Florence.
Probably a few more miles involved then taking some of the other routes, but being on the interstate has a little peace of mind for us. I actually am not a fan of driving interstates but in this case, leaving late November and unfamiliar with NM and AZ, 4 lanes may be are best bet.
I like the route from Santa Rosa to Las Cruces but just chicken I guess. Might give that a try on the return early March.
Living in WI, snow, wind, cold isn't new to us....but being flat landers at an altitude of @900 ft gives us some pause taking the Class C up/down grades in inclement weather.
We have talked ourselves in and out of this trip multiple times, this road/travel info really helps. THANKS to all!
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