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Old 12-22-2012, 12:04 AM
 
2 posts, read 3,759 times
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Hello All

I am looking to make a drive from Sioux City in South Dakota to the Southern Part of Utah. The main concern for me right now is the drive on the i70 from Denver area, through the rockies and out the other side.

I know I have to pick up chains, but what are the rules and regulations for this area of the country. Also if I do need snow tires, what kind of price would I be looking at?

Thanks!
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:36 AM
 
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A far better route, avoiding the idiots on I-70, would be to take I-80 through Wyoming to Salt Lake City, thence south on I-15. I-80 can get severe blizzards, but those tend to abate fairly quickly and Wyoming does a very good job of clearing the roads.

I have plenty of experience driving in both Colorado and Wyoming and I avoid I-70 like the plague in winter--not because road conditions there are any more adverse than any other Colorado mountain highway--but because there are so many complete winter driving idiots one has to contend with on I-70.

Seldom does either state require chains for passenger vehicles of less than 15-passenger capacity. If they do, conditions are probably adverse enough that you shouldn't be on the road. Snow tire prices vary by make of tire, and size of vehicle. I'm partial to Blizzaks, which are very effective, but are often pretty pricey--upwards of $200 per tire for some sizes.

You don't speak to you winter driving experience. Neither state is place for an inexperienced winter driver to be driving if conditions are adverse. You are then a hazard to yourself AND to other drivers, regardless of how well your vehicle is equipped for such conditions. Winter road conditions themselves are not the reason for so many wrecks on places like I-70--they occur because of so many people driving beyond their experience or abilities in such conditions.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Western Colorado
11,049 posts, read 12,398,038 times
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Be sure to check this page:

Road Conditions, Speeds, Travel Times, Traffic Cameras, Live Streaming Traffic Cameras, Road Closures and Road Work Information provided by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) a branch of Colorado Department of Transportation

They will and have closed I-70 at the Colorado-Kansas State Line, the motels in Kansas get full quick. I've driven I-70 a lot through Kansas into Denver and to Grand Junction. I absolutely HATE it.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:02 PM
 
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Wink Sioux City to Utah

Your route could depend in part on where in southern Utah headed. If southeastern Utah, and wishing to avoid I-70 west of Denver, an alternative would be south of there on I-25, and then, from Walsenburg, west towards Durango and beyond on US 160. I-80 puts one well north for no good reason, unless seeming the best option at the time; and as mentioned, no place to be if in a storm with any amount of wind (being susceptible to). US 160 has appreciably less traffic than either interstate. There are two passes to contend with, in La Veta and Wolf Creek, the latter more challenging, but nothing that might not be done safely in decent conditions. I-80 has the advantage of no appreciable passes, but aside from the possible wind and being that far north, also the dubious necessity of navigating I-15 through the long front range of Salt Lake City and its larger metro area, basically until at least past Provo.

I-70 is largely dependent on conditions, although in winter that might be said for anywhere. Are there idiots on it? Yeah. They are everywhere. And likely safely avoided if the highway is halfway dry; it is when storming, and they are thinking of maybe closing the road due conditions, with lots of traffic, that one would wish to be elsewhere. Avoid that, and peak travel times, and you'll probably be fine. Most of the skier traffic will be history once past Vail. Consider as well that there are two significant passes, in Vail Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel, and with fluctuations a good grade from Denver to that tunnel (and as well down the other side into Silverthorne).

Yes, do pick up chains—and know how to install them by having done so at least once in the driveway or somewhere. It is unlikely you'll actually have to use them, but very nice to have in the event.

One does not necessarily need dedicated winter tires, but at minimum good all-season. Despite marketing claims to the contrary, there is a difference in winter performance: some that should do the job are not as able as others that will. Do a little research in advance of purchase. Real winter tires, versus all-season, will provide the best traction, if this your primary concern. They are more expensive largely because advisable in switching to summer tires come spring, and the requirement of doing so if studded. Chains are a backup, and something with a maximum speed when used of not much over 35mph, but tires really matter.

If you can, time this trip to coincide with dry roads, and a window between storms.
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Old 12-23-2012, 10:10 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,682 posts, read 9,417,164 times
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Well you don't really need chains, they're not required on that route except for 18 wheelers. Chains would only be something you would get if you wanted to be prepared for an extreme condition, and in Colorado even extreme weather is cleared off the roads by CDOT within a couple days. The only time you would need to use chains is if you happened to be caught in the middle of the extreme weather and were unable to proceed to the nearest town without them.

Snow tires will come in more handy for getting through most of the conditions that you would usually encounter on that route. But if you have a rear-wheel drive car or truck then even snow tires aren't going to help much. In that case I wouldn't even recommend trying to drive through the mountains.
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:07 AM
 
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So you are all saying that snow tires are not a necessity here? I have winter driving experience in europe, I just wasn't sure of how sever the conditions were here and what requirements were needed.

I will double check, and I have a 2008 Dodge Avenger which is FWD I believe.

I need to get towards the Richfield area of Utah, not real far south, but south enough the i70 is the best and most direct road.
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:17 PM
 
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Wink The usual precautions

I-70 is obviously the most direct route to Richfield, UT, and the preferable one if conditions at all decent. If they are not, then you probably shouldn't be on the road anyway.

FWD is adequate, and all many people use year-round. If optimal, dedicated winter tires are not a necessity. But four good all-season tires are, at minimum. Chains are more for emergency use, but as advisable to carry as a blanket or sleeping bag, some food, water, jacket, etc.

Timing remains one of the most critical factors in such things. With roads fairly dry, it can be an often beautiful drive west of Denver through some great country in Colorado and Utah.
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:52 PM
 
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As the op mentioned Richfield as the destination, that changes my comments a bunch. When one mentions southern Utah in the winter, St. George is what pops up in my mind first. Doesn't snow much as elevation is 2880 ft. Richfield on the other hand is 6472 ft. and it snows plenty. I ought to know, I was through both towns just four days ago. And it can dump snow in Richfield, you bet it can! If you're coming in from Colorado, I-70 is not only your best bet, it's your only bet. From Fruita (exit 19) to Green River you have exactly two gas stations on the route. (95 miles) From Green River to Richfield you have no services until you get to Salina (110 miles.) While this route is a geological fantasyland (particularly through the San Rafael Swell), it can be frontierland regards to help on the highway. Utah DOT does a good job on their roads as Colorado and Wyoming does, but they won't hesitate to shut down I-70 for a day to take care of business. Going through that desert you have two spots where you climb 1500 ft. per spot. Cell phone coverage is ok in most spots but not all (I have Verizon.)

That's why I would recommend I-80 through Wyoming because you have more services available. The only real climb you have there is Parley's Summit east of Salt Lake. Salt Lake to the I-70 exit (Cove Fort) is a very doable drive. When you get to I-70 and head east you have a pretty good climb ahead of you right off the get go. Another route is available off I-15 would be the U.S. 50 exit at the Scipio exit which saves you a lot of miles.

Good advice by Idunn on both posts on this thread, particularly the issue of emergency equipment to carry with you. It's a must to have these things on hand.

Good luck and safe travels.
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Old 12-23-2012, 03:10 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,682 posts, read 9,417,164 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thosebaby View Post
So you are all saying that snow tires are not a necessity here?
Snow tires are a necessity.
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:57 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,777,680 times
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It isn't a huge detour to take I-80 to I-15, thence south on UT28 to get to Richfield, especially if you are coming from South Dakota. The key is to stay flexible and check road conditions frequently. In the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, weather and road conditions can change quickly both by location and time. It can be beautiful and sunny in Denver, for example, with a raging winter storm on the passes. I used to have to drive from Wyoming to southwestern Colorado frequently. I would vary my route in winter, depending on weather and road conditions. You have to avoid two things: really adverse conditions and a lot of really ignorant winter drivers. The worst is when you set yourself up to encounter both simultaneously. For me, as a driver with four decades of winter driving experience in the Rockies, if I have to choose which hazard to deal with, well, that would be the adverse weather and road conditions every time. That's why I avoid I-70 from Denver to Glenwood Springs if the weather is bad--too many idiots who can barely drive on a dry road, much less one with winter conditions.
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