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Old 04-20-2012, 07:54 AM
106 posts, read 379,213 times
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Hey everybody,

I will be helping my brother move across the country from North Carolina to the Seattle area. We are hoping to stop in Bolder. However, we will be driving a small u-haul and towing his car. We are from the north east. So we are a little nervous about the mountain high ways.

I looks like the roads into Denver are pretty flat. Once in Denver we could take the Denver Boulder Turnpike (36) to Boulder pretty easily. Then we would want to take the diagonal highway (119) to Interstate 25. But I really don’t have any idea of what I am talking about.

My thought is that these roads look pretty straight. If they did a lot of zigzagging I would assume they are twisting around mountains. Also, the topographical view on Google Maps shows the areas to be pretty flat. So, I have no idea what its really like out there.

Can anybody give any feedback on this route? Any alternate suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:13 AM
Location: Aurora, CO
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There's one ridge on the Boulder turnpike but I'd hardly call it scary, and 119 from Boulder through Longmont is flat.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:22 AM
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Wink Boulder & passes

It is fairly flat all the way into Boulder, and you shouldn't have any problems on your suggested route.

Continuing on, if wishing to save some time you could bypass Cheyenne, WY, taking US 287 between Fort Collins, CO and Laramie, WY. It would be a flatter route through Cheyenne, but if crossing a low pass US 287, it is no more challenging than some other passes you will almost inevitably need to cross between Colorado and Seattle. For instance, there is a low if not terribly challenging pass between Cheyenne and Laramie on I-80, but also one west of Laramie. I-80 through southern Wyoming was initially the preferred route west as largely bypassing the high mountains that I-70 passes directly through, but it is not flat either, and indicative of much of your possible route on west.

About the fastest way on west would be I-80 to near Salt Lake City, UT, and then northwest on I-84 on through Idaho and Oregon to near Washington state; thence I-82 briefly northwest to its junction with I-90; and from there west over Snoqualmie Pass to Seattle. There will be some passes on such a route, such as northwest of La Grande, OR; although in driving northwest one will be driving down the steeper grade on that pass.

Another consideration is snow. If this trip in the near future, it is a possibility. Maybe in Boulder, but probably not this time of year. However some of the passes crossed are a different matter. Snoqualmie Pass (elevation 3,022 feet) is not very high by Colorado standards, but all things are relative, and it is very much a pass and in the mountains. It will probably be clear, but in the moment there could as well be a heavy snow storm, and it can really snow on the West Coast. Tire chains would probably be mandatory, and certainly advisable in such circumstances. We've largely passed from winter, but it would still be a good idea to check the weather forecast, as a very long drive across this nation if much snow involved.

As for flat, with a lot of time and creativity and huge detours you could avoid some passes and remain somewhat more level. But there are a lot of mountain ranges in the western US. Skip the Rocky Mountains through the center of Colorado and you've already gone a long way in avoiding some of the more challenging mountain driving (on an interstate, anyway); the rest will have some ups and downs, but not all that bad.

Boulder can be fun.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:39 AM
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As long as you drive from Denver to Boulder and then back to I-25, you don't have anything to worry about. It's all prairie with a view of the mountains.
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:31 AM
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I lived in Leadville for years and unless your going into the back woods the roads in Colorado are some of the best in the country. I drove a 1ton van and 14ft trailer everywhere to build houses. The only scary road I know is from Leadville to Vail over the mountain and its only open in the summer. Its a beautiful drive and its a good road but if you get off its 1500 ft down. Check it out
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:14 AM
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I am a fellow flat land, sea level living person. So I don't get any practice in snow (as I live in an area that doesn't snow) or on mountain roads on a daily basis.

Having said that, I have driven all thru the US via the interstate system and I haven't found an interstate yet that I really consider 'scarey'. A year ago, I drove across I-90, I-80, I-70, I-40 and took I-25 as well - nothing I would consider too crazy for what you are planning to do. Are there 8% grades at times, yes - but I was right beside 80ft 18-wheelers all the way. If they can do it, so can you. The above listed roads are were no more scarier to me than the interstates that go thru the mountains in North Carolina. Now get off the interstate system and start taking the back country roads and all bets are off. I did do the drive to Mt. Evans in my Crew Cab, long bed, F350 - that bordered on scary for this flat lander... Ohh and I did drive thru a snow storm on the routes that went to Park City and Salt Lake City and this was at the end of May last year.

The funny part, is the white knuckle parts of my drive typically occurred in large cities with unexpected lane merges, getting on and off the Interstate or realizing your exit was on the opposite side you were on. I can't remember any instances on any interstate where I said I must be crazy to be driving on this road. I was always prepared to get weathered in somewhere or have to stop early. ESPECIALLY, Since you are pulling, be prepared in the mountains to drive slow and not 'make time' like you should crossing the mid-west states. I made horrible time in driving in the mountains compared to the flat 'plains states' of the midwest and I wasn't pulling. Better to arrive a day or so later than not at all.
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:54 PM
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Thanks for all the feedback and tips!!!

I drove a u-haul through the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia. It got pretty sketchy coming down some of the Mountains. To be honest, I would like to avoid doing that again.

We are planning the trip for late May/early June. Will snow/ice still be an issue? I am hoping not. We are also hoping to spend a day or two in Yellowstone. So we might just have to bypass CO...

Also, we are both city drivers, will have a GPS and co-pilot. So we should be OK to drive past the bigger cities.
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Old 04-20-2012, 04:11 PM
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Wink Snow & Yellowstone

It is always possible, but by late May/early June not much chance of snow. Just be prepared, in case.

Yellowstone NP is fantastic. You still have the option of visiting Boulder, if desired. It is roughly a 9 hour drive from Boulder to Jackson Hole, WY, which would provide a good town for the night. Not only is Jackson a lovely town, but great scenery in the Tetons and all else in the drive north from there all the way into Yellowstone. Only do not expect it to be inexpensive, and even that time of year it might be advisable to have a reservation.

From I-80, the more conventional wisdom might be to take US 191 northwest from Rock Springs; thence through Pinedale to Jackson. From closer to Pinedale it is a scenic drive, but still has the downside of having to be on the somewhat bleak vastness of I-80 as long. Another fine alternative is to depart I-80 much sooner at Rawlins, taking US 287 northwest through Lander and Dubois. By Lander you'll have the Wind River mountains to your left, and a scenic drive all the rest of the way in. On either of these routes, not all that much traffic, and probably even less so on US 287. The only real downside to taking US 287 is that from the junction with US 191 at Moran reaching Jackson requires turning southwest in a drive of 30 minutes (but ever so lovely the entire way). I believe there is a pass of sorts from Pinedale in reaching Jackson; and nothing all that difficult as a pass from Dubois into Moran.

From Yellowstone it is an easy matter to continue north to I-90, and thence west to Seattle.
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