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Old 01-13-2016, 09:27 AM
 
Location: Michigan
717 posts, read 1,898,348 times
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Hello. I'll be driving from Michigan to Augusta, GA later this month. The shortest route goes across the Great Smoky Mountains through Asheville, NC, but I wonder if it would be safer to go further south through Chattanooga and Atlanta, thereby avoiding the mountain roads in the winter but adding an hour or so to my overall drive time.

How are driving conditions on I-40 from Knoxville to Asheville in January?

Thanks!
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Old 01-13-2016, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Seattle
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Too bad there's not a more direct route for you using I-26, as it's the far superior mountain crossing. At any rate, I-40 should be just fine.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:37 PM
 
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You need to check the weather reports. If there's been snow than the detour is worthwhile. Check Maggie Valley NC snow conditions. Also check the DOTs websites for rock slides. I don't want to discourage you as it is a beautiful drive and 90% of the time it is fine . I-40 is in a river valley, also the DOTs keep it salted.
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Old 01-13-2016, 01:41 PM
Status: "Soon I'll hear old winter's song.." (set 22 days ago)
 
Location: Saint Paul, MN
5,397 posts, read 2,860,525 times
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My family is Floridians and we would go to the smokies in winter to SEE snow. We've driven on the mountains with snow plenty of times. It usually doesn't snow that much there, just a few inches and it's not the heavy wet kind most times. If Floridians can do it, I'm sure people from Michigan can, like it's nothing. The mountains are gorgeous in the snow, a shameful sight to miss out on.
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Old 01-13-2016, 10:08 PM
 
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The roads are slick only 5 to 7 days in a typical winter, so snow is possible, but unlikely on any given day. Your route is the same until you reach Knoxville, so you could take a break there to check on weather and road conditions, then head to Chattanooga if 40 East is going to be a problem.
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Old 01-14-2016, 07:03 AM
 
Location: Chattanooga, TN
2,774 posts, read 3,684,721 times
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It's a heavily traveled Interstate highway. Even in the worst conditions it's superior to most surface roads. All the curves are designed to be traveled at well over the posted speed, so if you hold to that speed of lower there will be no problems.

Yes, it will be curvy with cliffs. But you'll be separated from those cliffs by guardrails rated to stop a semi, and the views will be gorgeous.

And of course consider a detour if the weather requires it.

For what it's worth, if you're scared of heights, crossing Jellico Ridge on I-75 just south of the KY/TN border is just as bad (if not worse).
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Old 01-16-2016, 02:22 AM
 
Location: Somewhere below Mason/Dixon
5,861 posts, read 6,935,288 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwkilgore View Post
It's a heavily traveled Interstate highway. Even in the worst conditions it's superior to most surface roads. All the curves are designed to be traveled at well over the posted speed, so if you hold to that speed of lower there will be no problems.

Yes, it will be curvy with cliffs. But you'll be separated from those cliffs by guardrails rated to stop a semi, and the views will be gorgeous.

And of course consider a detour if the weather requires it.

For what it's worth, if you're scared of heights, crossing Jellico Ridge on I-75 just south of the KY/TN border is just as bad (if not worse).
Yes the Jellico area is not to be taken lightly. I-75 crosses the Cumberland Mountains south of Jellico, fog and truck traffic can cause real hazards in that area. If it snows I would not want to be on that road. Thankfully we only get snow once in a great while, but when it does that is a scary drive. It is a pretty stretch of highway but one needs to pay attention to what they are doing there.
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Old 01-16-2016, 09:48 AM
 
Location: Michigan
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Thanks, all. I took another look at GoogleMaps. I could take I-65 to Nashville and I-24 to Chattanooga (I'm coming from the Lake Michigan shore), which would allow me to avoid Jellico. It would be only be about a half hour longer than going through Knoxville and Asheville and a few minutes shorter than going to Knoxville and then cutting south to Chattanooga.
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Old 01-16-2016, 11:32 AM
 
Location: Chattanooga, TN
2,774 posts, read 3,684,721 times
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Sounds like a workable plan. It'll add some distance to your trip, but if it significantly reduces your stress level then it should be worth it.

Keep in mind that with that route you'll cross over into the Central Time Zone somewhere in Kentucky and stay there until just outside Chattanooga, right where I-24 dips slightly into Georgia. This is a factor if you are affected by rush hour around Nashville, and the HOV lanes into and out of Nashville are time-dependent (I almost got a ticket because of that once).

Also, just to keep all info on the table, you'll still have to cross Monteagle between Nashville and Chattanooga. It isn't nearly as bad as I-40 between Knoxville and Asheville, nor I-75 over Jellico, but it's there. If you're looking at Google Maps, turn on the "Terrain" layer to get an approximate 3D view.
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Old 01-16-2016, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Idaho
2,480 posts, read 2,023,110 times
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As someone who used to live in TN for seven years and drove the Murfreesboro to Chattanooga, via !-24 router quite often, trying to figure out what the problem with Monteagle could be? Or I-75 over Jellico or I-40 between Asheville and Knoxville which I did a few times.
Just curious!
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