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Old 06-04-2012, 09:45 PM
 
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We are relocating to McKinney in the Dallas area at the beginning of July. We will be driving a Toyota 4-Runner with a 20' boat in tow and a 26' Penske Truck. While the Penske truck can likely make the Idaho-Wyoming hilly route I have doubts about the Toyota/boat combo.

Any advice on the safest/flattest route? We want to make the trip in 4-5 days (4 stops at night) with arrival on day 5.

We are currently thinking of taking I-5 south to Bakersfield then catching the 40 eastbound into Texas.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mckinney-bound View Post
We are relocating to McKinney in the Dallas area at the beginning of July. We will be driving a Toyota 4-Runner with a 20' boat in tow and a 26' Penske Truck. While the Penske truck can likely make the Idaho-Wyoming hilly route I have doubts about the Toyota/boat combo.

Any advice on the safest/flattest route? We want to make the trip in 4-5 days (4 stops at night) with arrival on day 5.

We are currently thinking of taking I-5 south to Bakersfield then catching the 40 eastbound into Texas.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
You're going to have go over some hills/mountains no matter which way you go... At least you won't have to worry about snow in July. But on I-5 you'll have to go over the steep slope up and down to Siskiyou Pass at the Oregon/CA border and some twisty roads around Mt. Shasta and Shasta Lake as well as over Tehachapi Pass to get over to Southern California onwards to I-40. From there, it's just a gradual road up into the mountains around Flagstaff out of the desert and then some rolling mountains--after you cross the Sandia Range east of Albuquerque, I think it's pretty flat all the way to Texas.

Another alternate route could be to drive down I-5 to Portland and take I-84 east, which except for the Blue Mountains, doesn't have much in the way of hills all the way through Idaho into Utah. Then you link up with I-80 and head east over the Wasatch in Utah(it goes through a canyon near Park City and is pretty mellow)--then heading through Wyoming you pass over the Continental Divide, but for the most part it's flat through the state except for a little stretch east of Laramie. This is basically the Oregon Trail route, and it was traveled because it was one of the easiest ways to get over the Rockies. One you get to eastern Wyoming you can take I-25 south to Denver to I-70 to Kansas and then drop down south to Texas.

Either way should be fine though for the most part if you're careful. I've never driven I-90 all the way through Montana, though I think there's some higher passes that way. But you're doing it one of the best months weather-wise so that's good.

Last edited by Deezus; 06-04-2012 at 11:11 PM..
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:06 PM
 
Location: Texas
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First of all, disavow yourself of any notion that you can make that trip without going over any mountains. Ain't gonna happen. Period. You've got the Cascades and the Rockies and/or Sierra's between Seattle and Dallas and you CANNOT get around them. You must either go through them, or over them, unless you're willing to drive a LONG way out of route (down the coast to LA and eastward).

So..given your equipment and aversion to high places, here's your best bet. It will entail going up a few mountains, but the long downgrades are minimized.

I-5 south to I-84 eastbound. That will take you around and through the Cascades via the Columbia River Gorge. You've got a 6 mile upgrade at Immigrant Pass (also called Cabbage Hill) just east of Pendleton, OR, but the downgrade on the other side is only a couple of miles long. You'll go up Ladd Canyon just past LaGrande, OR and up the hill between Farewell Bend and Ontario, OR, but there isn't any downgrades to speak of. From there on, it's mostly flat to rolling terrain all the way into Utah, up the gorge east of Ogden and to 84's junction with I-80.

Take I-80 east all the way to Cheyenne, WY. There are several straight up and down grades of about 3 miles each east of Evanston, WY and an upgrade east of Laramie of about 4 miles, but no downgrades of note. You will pass by Elk Mountain before Laramie and while there aren't any "scary" hills, you might have to deal with high winds. That's the last of the mountains you'll have to cross. From there on to McKinney, it's mostly flat.

At Cheyenne, go south on I-25 to just before Denver, then take the E-470 toll road to I-70 east. That avoids the whole Denver mess, though it will cost you a little. At Limon, CO, you have a choice:

1. Stay on the interstate to Salina, KS, then south on I-135 to Wichita where you'll connect with I-35 south. It's about 150 miles farther than this other route. Stay on it until Gainesville, TX. You will have one small up and downgrade at Honey Springs Pass between Davis and Ardmore, OK. Nothing to worry about.

2. US-287 south all the way to Henrietta, TX. It's two lane through Colorado and Oklahoma, but 4 lane in Texas, though mostly not "freeway." You've got a few small towns to go through, but only one large city, Amarillo, TX. However, you can go around it by using Loop 335 east, which takes you around to I-40/US-287 on the east side of town.

At Henrietta, go east on US-82 to Sherman, TX (you'll pass through Gainesville, so the routes are the same from there east). Take US-75 freeway to McKinney. There is still some 2 lane on US-82, but not much.

There you are! Safe and sound in McKinney!
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:06 PM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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I second Deezus's suggestion of linking up with I-80 somewhere between Reno and Salt Lake City. I-80 through Wyoming in the summertime isn't bad. You'll cross the Continental Divide twice but both crossings are fairly low and flat.

The area east of Laramie looks a lot worse than it is. The high point on I-80 is about 8500 feet, but Laramie is around 7500 feet, so you're only climbing approx. 1000 feet. If that's too much you can always drop down from Laramie to Fort Collins, CO on US-287 and hit I-25 there but 287 is hillier up and down and it's only 2-lanes for much of the distance.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:06 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
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I imagine the flattest route would be straight down the coast line to Los Angeles then catch the 10 through AZ, NM and into TX to Dallas.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:19 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Originally Posted by nitram View Post
I imagine the flattest route would be straight down the coast line to Los Angeles then catch the 10 through AZ, NM and into TX to Dallas.

It is and it isn't. Naturally, it's pretty much flat along the Oregon coast from Astoria south, but once you get down to Crescent City, CA, it's gonna get very bumpy and twisty, whether you take the 101 into the Bay Area or stay on CA-1 (PCH) down through Ft. Bragg and Bodega Bay..which you REALLY don't want to do!

Then, you've got the issue of maneuvering your way through the Bay Area multiplex (DON'T stay on 101 across the Golden Gate and through San Francisco!) and the fairly long downgrade near Goleta, CA. THEN, you've got to pass through the LA basin/Inland Empire megalopolis and it's about 125 miles across it at that point. (Ventura to San Bernardino). It's ALL dense, urban area.

After that, you'd have to climb up Chiriaco Summit east of Palm Springs, which will task any radiator and climb up Texas Canyon east of Benson, AZ.

The point is that it may be somewhat flatter, but it is substantially longer and presents some urban challenges which can be avoided by going some other way.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by stillkit View Post
It is and it isn't. Naturally, it's pretty much flat along the Oregon coast from Astoria south, but once you get down to Crescent City, CA, it's gonna get very bumpy and twisty, whether you take the 101 into the Bay Area or stay on CA-1 (PCH) down through Ft. Bragg and Bodega Bay..which you REALLY don't want to do!

Then, you've got the issue of maneuvering your way through the Bay Area multiplex (DON'T stay on 101 across the Golden Gate and through San Francisco!) and the fairly long downgrade near Goleta, CA. THEN, you've got to pass through the LA basin/Inland Empire megalopolis and it's about 125 miles across it at that point. (Ventura to San Bernardino). It's ALL dense, urban area.

After that, you'd have to climb up Chiriaco Summit east of Palm Springs, which will task any radiator and climb up Texas Canyon east of Benson, AZ.

The point is that it may be somewhat flatter, but it is substantially longer and presents some urban challenges which can be avoided by going some other way.
Yes, and going along the coast through Oregon is significantly slower as it's a two lane highway for much of the way and goes through the middle of every small town on the coast. Through California, you're twisting much more along 101 through the hills then on either of the Interstate routes. I used to drive that way from Oregon to get back to Santa Cruz, but it was strictly for a slower but more scenic alternative to I-5. But you're also forced to drive right though the middle of San Francisco and the Bay which can be a traffic nightmare depending on what time you hit it--and there's LA as well as you mentioned. You'd really have to add an extra day or two to go that way due to the extra distance. Just getting to the coast from Seattle or Portland is detour from the route.

And going down Highway 1 where you can in California is even more beautiful, but the idea of towing a boat along the winding road to Fort Bragg(which is bad enough in a passenger car) or going down the narrow highway down Big Sur isn't something I'd recommend. Either Interstate highway route mentioned, is going to be a lot less stressful than the coastal route.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:46 AM
 
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Thank you so much for this information. This is all new driving territory for us. I realize I cannot avoid hills entirely - but was worried about taxing transmission/brakes on 9000 foot climbs. However your options sound feasible.

Thank you!
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:37 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillkit View Post
...
I-5 south to I-84 eastbound. That will take you around and through the Cascades via the Columbia River Gorge. You've got a 6 mile upgrade at Immigrant Pass (also called Cabbage Hill) just east of Pendleton, OR, but the downgrade on the other side is only a couple of miles long. You'll go up Ladd Canyon just past LaGrande, OR and up the hill between Farewell Bend and Ontario, OR, but there isn't any downgrades to speak of. From there on, it's mostly flat to rolling terrain all the way into Utah, up the gorge east of Ogden and to 84's junction with I-80. East to Laramie, WY

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluescreen73 View Post
drop down from Laramie to Fort Collins, CO on US-287 and hit I-25 there
go south on I-25 to just before Denver, then take the E-470 toll road to I-70 east. That avoids the whole Denver mess, though it will cost you a little. At Limon, CO, you have a choice:

1. Stay on the interstate to Salina, KS, then south on I-135 to Wichita where you'll connect with I-35 south. It's about 150 miles farther than this other route. Stay on it until Gainesville, TX. You will have one small up and downgrade at Honey Springs Pass between Davis and Ardmore, OK. Nothing to worry about.

2. US-287 south all the way to Henrietta, TX. It's two lane through Colorado and Oklahoma, but 4 lane in Texas, though mostly not "freeway." You've got a few small towns to go through, but only one large city, Amarillo, TX. However, you can go around it by using Loop 335 east, which takes you around to I-40/US-287 on the east side of town.

At Henrietta, go east on US-82 to Sherman, TX (you'll pass through Gainesville, so the routes are the same from there east). Take US-75 freeway to McKinney. There is still some 2 lane on US-82, but not much.

There you are! Safe and sound in McKinney!

Do this including slight modification of taking 287 from Laramie to Ft Collins (nice, fairly flat, and very pretty)

I moved folks from WA to TX last summer (with VERY heavy loads) and we did this route.
.

Immigrant Hill east of Pendleton is only significant incline, do that in the cool of the early morning or preferably at night (no sun in eyes, and cooler / moister engine air and cool tires).

I did another move using I-5 to I-10 (LA) and east through AZ. THAT was no fun.... North of Grants Pass, OR +Siskiyous and Grapevine and then there is the CA traffic and trying to find diesel fuel in north LA ./.. No thanks (fuel is MORE expensive and this is farther.)

Get a infrared Thermometer GUN... Very handy for checking tire temps and wheel bearings at each stop.
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:46 AM
 
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,654,955 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mckinney-bound View Post
Thank you so much for this information. This is all new driving territory for us. I realize I cannot avoid hills entirely - but was worried about taxing transmission/brakes on 9000 foot climbs. However your options sound feasible.

Thank you!

There's nothing along the routes I suggested which should cause any driveline problems unless there's something wrong with them already. Just check your fluid levels each morning before you start and top them off it they need it. If the engine starts to overheat on a climb, just back off the accelerator a little, turn off the A/C and, if the temp continues to climb, turn on the heater until you get to the top. The engine temperature gauge should have the "dangerous" range of temperatures marked in red, so you won't have to guess when it's getting too hot.

Nor will any of the downgrades over-tax your brakes, unless you go flying off the top in high gear. I assume a truck that size has air brakes and I hope your boat trailer has electric brakes which operate in conjunction with the truck brakes. In any case, on grades of more than a couple of miles (they'll be marked), just downshift and let the transmission hold you back. You don't have to creep down long hills, but you don't have to fly either.

If you get to going a little too fast, there are two ways to prevent overheating your brakes:

1. "Stabbing." This involves getting on the brakes hard enough to quickly pull your speed down considerably (say 20-30 mph), then get off the brakes and let the truck slowly start to speed up again until you need to do it once more. The idea is to let air get in between the brake pads and brake drum long enough to cool them off some. This process should be sufficient for any downgrade you'll encounter on those routes.

2. Constant friction. Downshift a couple of gears and then just lay your foot on the brake peddle, providing just enough pressure to keep your speed constant. Never let off that peddle until you get to the bottom. The brake pads will heat up, but unless you're going too fast, you should be fine. The idea of constant pressure is to prevent air from circulating in, which will cause the brake pads to heat faster (Yes, I know that seems entirely contrary to stabbing, but the difference is in the constant pressure.)

In either case, if you see smoke begin to swirl from the rear axles, stop right then, set the emergency brake and let them cool off until they quit smoking.
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