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Old 10-17-2011, 01:24 PM
Location: Northern Arizona
1,248 posts, read 2,999,514 times
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
You are less likely to hit adverse winter conditions by driving I40/I25 (the "southern" route), but there are no guarantees--I25 from northern New Mexico into Denver can occasionally have nasty winter conditions from now on until late spring.
I'm not sure parts of I-40 would be all that much better. From Flagstaff to Albuquerque, the elevation rarely dips below 5000 feet (if at all), and with Flagstaff sitting at an elevation of 7000 feet, well, lets just say snowstorms in this area can be notoriously perilous (as I'm sure they are in other high elevation areas throughout NM and Colorado).

I've also driven from Kingman to Flagstaff along the 40 during light snow and it wasn't something I'd want to do ever again.
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:52 PM
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The bottom line point is this: If you are driving in the Rocky Mountain West anytime from about late September to late May, you had better be prepared for and experienced in driving in severe winter driving and road conditions. Period. That doesn't mean that there won't be days (or weeks) when the roads are perfectly dry, but no one should assume that escaping nasty winter conditions will be a certainty. Conditions often can and do change from lovely to miserable and dangerous within a few miles or a few hours--that is just the way it is and anyone who says otherwise probably has not lived here long enough (or at all) to know better.
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Old 10-17-2011, 04:19 PM
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
4,888 posts, read 8,899,377 times
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Today is a great example. Here in western Colorado, it is a beautiful morning--temperature in the 50's, blue sky with very few clouds, sunshine. An associate of mine just phoned from up on Vail Pass--snowing, road slushy and wet--all indications that it was a real mess last night.
Yes, and even then a few miles can make a big difference. As you climb in elevation towards the passes, roads and weather can become nasty, but it can be much nicer or even clear a couple thousand feet lower. Can be is the operative phrase. It can easily be just as nasty in the lower elevations.
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Old 10-17-2011, 04:50 PM
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That front came through here in the GJ area about 1 in the morning, actually woke me up. 30, maybe 40 mile an hour winds and some rain. And blew out of here maybe a half hour later.
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Old 11-01-2011, 04:32 AM
8 posts, read 20,362 times
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thank you everyone for the info
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Old 11-01-2011, 12:57 PM
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Wink Snow

You're welcome.

Keep an eye on the weather. Since a stated departure in the first week of November, you should know that there is a storm expected in northern Colorado beginning later this afternoon, extending through Wednesday. Depending on location, several inches or more of snow expected.

At least along the front range, the roads are presently fine, although at higher elevations retaining some snow in the forest beside them from the snow storm of a week ago. Thursday and Friday are indicated as partly sunny, but more snow forecast for Saturday.
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:13 AM
Location: Northern Colorado
6 posts, read 15,013 times
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Default Driving from south Denver to San Francisco, preferred route?

In about 4 months, my wife and I will be driving a friend to the San Fran area (San Jose actually) for a surgery, then back about a week later. I have driven from Fort Collins to Sacramento before taking I-80 there and back. I was surprised when Google maps showed a route along I-70, then I-15 through Vegas, then up I-5 to be a quicker way.

My weird mind tends to look at the I-80 route as preferable, but the south route seems to be a little quicker.

Anyone else here ever make this trip and have a preferred route? Sight seeing is not necessary, just getting there as quickly and comfortably as we can, and back home in the same style.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:37 AM
Status: "October is the eighth month" (set 18 days ago)
Location: Just south of Denver since 1989
10,676 posts, read 28,486,584 times
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all depends on the weather cotrip.org
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:58 AM
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Wink I-80, and then else

From Fort Collins, I-80 is generally the most expeditious route. If nothing much beyond speed and comfort are priorities, your first choice—save weather.

Colorado to the West Coast is no picnic in inclement weather (meaning, principally snow). This consideration alone should be paramount in deciding an appropriate route. That drive, on any road, is night and day between sunny and dry, and something distinctly less. Know as well that while the greater route might be clear and fine that even a relatively short section (say maybe a ground blizzard in Wyoming) with bad conditions might dictate a change in route. Choosing the right weather window in winter, or early spring, can be decisive.

According to my calculations with Google, an alternate route through Las Vegas, NV on I-15 will not save you any time. It shows that route to San Jose, CA taking about 22 hours, versus 20 for I-80.

Just after Thanksgiving, southwest Utah received a certain amount of snow, and enough to see a number of wrecks on I-15 in the vicinity of Cedar City. And, as well, notably, a number in Arizona within the canyon there it traverses in heading to Mesquite, NV.

If the conditions right there could be snow on the road all the way from Fort Collins until dropping down into St. George, UT. As a general rule. However it can and does snow occasionally in St. George. Even has in Las Vegas, NV. As well, infrequently, the Mojave desert. More usually this is a safer route, snow-wise, although of course one is beginning such an excursion fairly far up north—or returning as much.

Thus at times an alternate southern route may be preferable. As with I-15, one will proceed north in California from Bakersfield, CA. But first in quickly heading south on I-25 to intersect I-40 in Albuquerque, NM. Thence west through Flagstaff, AZ. While there can be snow on this route, and not just in Colorado, it more usually will be clear when more northerly routes are dealing with snow. But I-40 can even be closed in sections at times due truly treacherous conditions. This route, for those so concerned, has the advantage of largely bypassing the mountains. Flagstaff being a somewhat minor exception, although that town does routinely see heavy snow. If shortly west of it, I-40 drops quickly down to lower and warmer elevations.

The best route (according to me) avoids all this (and such unpleasantness as heavy truck traffic on such as I-40 and I-80) and takes a more direct route across. That would be I-70 through Colorado, and, from the conjunction with I-15 in Utah, US 50 on west to Carson City, NV. If, well, technically, one might cut up to I-80 a bit sooner if insisting on taking that across Donner Pass. This route has the advantage—OR distinct disadvantage (depending on outlook or need)—of being relatively little traveled, particularly on US 50 in Nevada. So a general lack of semi-trucks, tourists and all other traffic. And the bonus of oft great scenery. Something to consider, versus droning along for almost two days on a nondescript interstate. There are also, for those inclined, certain picturesque passes across the Sierra Nevada mountains (some even open in winter).

According to The Google, surprisingly or not, this route time-wise should be little different than I-80, at about 20 hours. But, being more or less sans interstates, and near as empty on I-70 through much of Utah, without commonly expected services. Fuel level, for one, would need to be considered for the long empty stretches between towns. If, in many respects, one of the better ways across—for those wishing some enjoyment from travel.

Otherwise, probably I-80.

Last edited by Idunn; 01-02-2014 at 12:14 PM..
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:18 PM
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
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Fastest to me means avoiding two-lane highways. Slower speed limit and too much chance to get behind slow moving vehicles. Highway 50 is scenic but I wouldn't recommend it to someone whose goal is to make it to SF in the fastest way.

I agree that I-80 would be the best choice UNLESS there is bad weather. You don't want to be driving across southern Wyoming in a blizzard. Taking I-25 north to I-80 then just heading west from there. Although you could do the 287 cut-off from Fort Collins to Laramie (yeah it's two-lane but there are a lot of passing opportunities).

The only viable alternative I would use is to go west on I-70 then take the (two-lane) cut-off through Price to I-15 and north to I-80 in Salt Lake City.
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