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Old 10-19-2012, 09:02 AM
 
5 posts, read 5,295 times
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So we're planning to go from Las Vegas to Seattle and then back. Up trip mostly highway 1, then down trip mostly highway 5. We would like to try some highway 120, 199, 196, etc. up: Clark County 215 E to WA-520 W - Google Maps
and down: WA-520 W to Clark County 215 E - Google Maps

Question is, would there be too much snow in our path? I imagine highway 1 and 5 wouldn't be close since they're major roads, but the smaller highways could? We're from Minnesota, so not strangers to snow and ice, but mountains and windy coastal roads are another story.

We'll be renting a full size car or better, would it be enough or should we get a SUV...

Thank you all for any pointers!!
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Central Mass
1,979 posts, read 2,468,377 times
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Your north bound route is OK till you get to Oregon. There's very good chance you'll have problems getting around Crater Lake area.

Your south bound will not work in the winter. Once the snow starts to fall in November, the only way to cross the Sierra are to take US-50 or I-80 from Sacramento to Reno, then take 95 south to Las Vegas. 120 - i.e. Tioga Road through Yosemite gets hundereds of inches of snow. Here's the yearly open and close dates since 1980: Tioga and Glacier Point Roads Opening & Closing Dates - Yosemite National Park
The average close day is NOV 5. BUT, last year was so dry, it didn't close till this year (early January).

Here's a list of the last 6 years from CalTrans of mountain pass closures in the Sierra: Caltrans Winter Driving Tips Mountain Pass Closures

From North to south from Sacramento, you have :
I-80, US-50 - both of which might close for a couple hours or days to clear REALLY heavy snow or accidents, but being federal roads, they basically stay open -
then CA-88 - not on CalTrans' list, but it closes too
CA-108 - Sonora Pass
CA-120 - Tioga Road
Then you get to the Bakersfield and the desert and back to I-15

I-5 between Redding, CA and Medford, OR can get closed every once in a while, like I-80. It goes around the base of Mt. Shasta. Like 80, they'll probably be sections that require chains. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SOME THAT FIT THE RENTAL CAR! You don't want to be either stuck on the side of the road, or forced to pay $150 for some $20 you could have bought in SF or Eugene
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:25 AM
 
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Not really tourist season and many of the usual tourist destinations will be closed,you probably wont get much snow by staying on the coast road but any trips to elevated destinations away from the coast will almost surely have snow and if you are going from Vegas to Seattle snow will be a for sure encounter...While doing research for a rentacar it might be in your best interest to try to find one that equips its cars/SUV's with real snow tires and not the basically worthless all season tires.
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:09 AM
 
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Thank you!! Good thing I checked and you guys helped! So for this trip, we'll just stick to highway 1 and 5 up and down. I hope that the way up we can still go through Jedediah Park and use 99? (UP) Then on the way down we could flank Sierra from the bottom to visit Death valley park. (Down). We were hoping some more mountain site seeing, but that just have to wait for next spring or fall.

Then as far as for tire chains, I'll be having one handy the way down on I5, but I'm guess we wouldn't need it for highway 1 right? I never needed one here in Minnesota, go figures that I'll be using one in California.
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:58 AM
 
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Tire chains will be better than nothing but good snow tires will be of more value.Also make sure you have appropriate clothing for winter conditions as you never know when you'll get snowed in and have to spend a few days in the car,unlikely but its winter and theres no harm in being prepared.., a small survival kit with candle,lighter,and some food like nuts or granola bars,make sure your cell phone is fully charged,
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:36 PM
 
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
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Ksjr88, you're looking at a LOT of driving! How many days are you spending for this trip? In particular, Highway 1 up the coast can be washed out if the rainstorms are severe enough, forcing you to detour inland to avoid the damaged area.

Here is one article from 2011 (the road is now open, but it was closed for a couple of months in that area) -

Highway 1 closed north of Cambria after washout | Local News | SanLuisObispo.com

I'd suggest 395 at least to Bishop because of the scenic views once you get to Lone Pine, but if you're going to go all the way to Oregon, you'd definitely need chains if there are any storms. You'd have to cut across to I-5 using I-80, but 395 is a much prettier drive than I-5 (cows, crops, etc.). It might take a little longer, but the extra time spent is worth it.

Before you leave, check the weather reports carefully. That's really the best advice any of us can give.
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Old 10-20-2012, 02:40 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Ya Gotta do West Coast trips Southbound (MUCH safer / quicker on and off for sights).

See Crater Lake / Cascades/ Mt hood / St Helens, Rainier... northbound I would go into Bend and up to The Dalles OR, and then back to Portland via Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway.

Best coast is in OR and NoCA (Wa is not really too near and is not 100% public access)

go out 26 (from Portland, or out 30 from Longview), then south. Ecola Park in Cannon Beach a MUST, as well a Hug Point (be sure to walk 300 yrds north and see the 'Stage Coach road', Caves and waterfalls (sunset is best, orange soil)

I like Twin Rocks for Drift wood (just near walking overpass by 'Friends Camp')

Tillamook for Ice Cream and FREE cheese samples. 3 Cape Rte. OK, but time consuming.
Lincoln City and Depot Bay, OR nice stops. Newport, Science center

I like to go to the Samoa Cookhouse and Museum near Eureka, CA.
I DON"T take the rte to 1 that goes to Ft Bragg. (too curvy and SLOW in a boat... BIG car).

While near LV, be sure to see this valleyof fire + Las Vegas - Google Search
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Old 10-20-2012, 06:50 AM
 
Location: Central Mass
1,979 posts, read 2,468,377 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksjr88 View Post
Thank you!! Good thing I checked and you guys helped! So for this trip, we'll just stick to highway 1 and 5 up and down. I hope that the way up we can still go through Jedediah Park and use 99? (UP) Then on the way down we could flank Sierra from the bottom to visit Death valley park. (Down). We were hoping some more mountain site seeing, but that just have to wait for next spring or fall.
99 never closes, it's on the Central Valley floor near I-5. And it's just about as boring as I-5. CA-49 doesn't close either, and it's more scenic, but slower.
Can't help with Sequoa or Kings Canyon, but if you really want to see some mountains, and have chains, on your way up, take CA-41 out of Fresno into the south entrance of Yosemite - it can get snowy as it gets over 7000', but it doesn't close. Then take CA-120 out of the valley down the Merced River to Manteca and get back on 5 or 99. You could take 5/99 to Manteca and take 120 into and out of Yosemite, it's the lowest and safest road into the valley.

Quote:
Then as far as for tire chains, I'll be having one handy the way down on I5, but I'm guess we wouldn't need it for highway 1 right? I never needed one here in Minnesota, go figures that I'll be using one in California.
I've driven through snow on I-80 in the Sierra in June, and hiked in it in July around Lake Tahoe . During wet winters, it get VERY snowy in the Sierra, especially the high elevations. Truckee, CA, on I-80 right at Donner Pass, gets 204" of snow a year, the 5th snowiest place in the country - But somewhere closer to home for you gets more: Houghton, MI on Lake Superior get 208" a year. But chains are illegal in MI lol.
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Old 10-20-2012, 09:02 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Don't forget that Washington is further north then Minneapolis, and in late December, there are very short hours of daylight. The sun will rise at 8 am and set at 4:30, which doesn't leave much time for sightseeing..
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:52 AM
 
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ksjr88 We wish you well on your trip but you couldnt have picked a worse time of the year to do it, if your schedule is at all flexible i'd move the time up to April/May rather than Dec/Jan
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