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Old 05-29-2007, 01:21 PM
2 posts, read 115,407 times
Reputation: 17


Hi all,

My husband and I will be moving to Denver in June with a big Penske truck towing a car, and a car following behind. My husband is worried that driving from LAS to DEN via Utah will be too difficult due to the Rocky Mountains and wonders if we should head south to Flagstaff and then back up. It adds at least three hours to go south, but is it worth it? Any help or insight is appreciated...Thanks!!

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Old 05-29-2007, 02:03 PM
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I'd take I-70. There's (probably) no snow in June even on the high passes, so I assume you're worried about steep downhill grades in your Penske? I wouldn't be too worried about that; just drive slowly, stay in low gear (if you have a standard transmission) on the steep downhill grades, and try not to overuse your brakes.

It is true that there's fewer steep grades on I-40/I-25, so if the thought of signs like "STEEP GRADES / SHARP CURVES" scares you then it's an option -- but for most people it's an option more for the winter months than June.
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:34 PM
Location: Denver, CO
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I have driven between Denver and Vegas many, many times, including just last weekend! I-15 to I-70 is the shortest and best way to go. Yes, there are some areas with steep grades, most notably I-70 between Salina and Green River, Vail Pass, I-70 climbing up towards the Eisenhower tunnel, and the final stretch descending into Denver (the infamous "Truckers don't be fooled" sign). The main thing is to slow down, and use low gears rather than braking the whole way down. You will so many trucks that pull off to the side of the road during those stretches, cooling off. It's no need to panic; they are just taking extra precautions. There are runaway truck ramps in case if you go out of control. Going down to I-40 through AZ and NM is not much better though. I-40 is an extremely high traffic road. Hwy 93 through the Hoover dam is always backed up, and has a lot of steep hills, and I'm not sure if trucks are even allowed on it any more. The stretch between Kingman and Hoover dam is very dangerous; the side of the road is littered with crosses. Alternatively, you could go down to Laughlin and Bullhead City and then to Kingman (the way I usually go when driving between PHX and Vegas), but part of that is a 2-lane road, with some steep grades as you go down to the Colorado river. Oh yeah, and Raton pass just south of Trinidad, CO, on I-25 also has steep grades.
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Old 05-29-2007, 02:51 PM
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What's the highest peak on I-70 through the Rockies?
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Old 05-29-2007, 09:34 PM
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Eisenhower tunnel at 11,000'.

There is also Vail pass that is about 10,600'
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Old 05-29-2007, 10:49 PM
Location: Colorado Springs
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I too recommend the route via I-70. I have driven to Vegas and used to live in Grand Junction and made the trip to Colorado Springs 1-2 times a month for 2 1/2 years.

The grade going up Vail Pass is pretty harsh but just stick with the truckers and let the passenger cars and pickups go by. They get pretty impatient once they get a momentum going - I speak both as a momentum driver and a slower driver.

The grade up to Eisenhower is not nearly as bad going up as Vail Pass.

The grade going down Vail Pass isn't so bad but as noted above, the east side of the tunnel is pretty steep, lower gear as well as around Floyd Hill.

It's an incredibly gorgeous drive (except for the part between Vegas and Mesquite - boring which you probably already know) so enjoy the scenery through Utah and CO.

Vegas to Denver in a regular vehicle is about 12 hours so adjust your time accordingly.

If you are in need of food, gas, lodging and such around Grand Junction, get off at Horizon Drive and take a right. There are a ton of restaurants, hotels, food establishments and gas stations. There are other stops off the highway to GJ but that's the best turn off for all things you might want. Most are open 24/7 (Denny's, Taco Bell and a couple of other diner type places but they do have other restaurants there but regular business hours apply).

Welcome to CO and have a safe trip.
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:00 PM
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I would hate to take I-70 through the mountains in a moving truck, especially towing a car. Have you considered taking I-80 to I-25? I don't think it would add too much time, and it's a much easier route (though not as scenic).
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:36 PM
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I beg to differ on the I-70 route especially since the point of your post is the fact that you're driving a moving van towing a car, a combination that typically one doesn't have too much experience with. I'd go I-40 and then up I-25. Certainly not as scenic, but far fewer grade changes. The road from Hoover Dam to I-40 is dangerous in that it is extremely boring, very straight and flat. At 7,834', Raton Pass on the border of CO and NM is the highest point on this route (I believe), far lower than the nearly 11,000' on I-70. Despite its longer distance, I'd suggest driving this way just to be safe.
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Old 05-30-2007, 03:43 PM
Location: South of Denver
291 posts, read 1,860,806 times
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I also heartily recommend I-15 & I-70. As a regular on that route, i have seen many travelers equipped just like you with no problems. While the higher passes do require some concentration, they require much less than the problems you'll face on I-40 and I-25.

Driving through Albuquerque and the stretch north of Colorado Springs are FAR more dangerous than anything you'll see on I-70. I moved a truck about the size of yours in May on I-70 a few years back, and it snowed. I panicked, but by the time i got to the Eisenhower Tunnel, everyone was going slow enough to not worry.

People are doing just what you are every day on I-70 and they not falling off the road. The area to watch for is in UT from just east of I-15 to Green River. There are no services there and no cellular phone coverage.

You will be pleasantly surprised how many people are moving in the same kind of vehicle you are on I-70.
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Old 05-30-2007, 09:00 PM
2 posts, read 115,407 times
Reputation: 17
Default Thanks!!

Thank you all for your helpful suggestions!! I am thinking that we will take the I-70 route. We're planning on breaking it into two days, so it shouldn't be too bad either day. We drove cross country from Alabama to Las Vegas in three days last summer (in the same type of truck towing a car) and didn't have too many problems, so hopefully this won't be too bad. Thanks to you all again!
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