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Old 11-01-2012, 04:43 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
12,351 posts, read 7,503,405 times
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It's worth noting that I-80 and it's predecessor, US 30, parallel the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, which in turn parallels the Overland Trail (though the latter crosses the Continental Divide via South Pass rather than what railroad buffs call "Sherman Hill"). All this makes for a lot of history, and some interesting thoughts if you're a "frustrated civil engineer" who can see the reason behind the roads, rails and superhighways crossing each other.

There's a lot of history in towns like Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, Granger, Rock Springs and Evanston as well. I can recall my first cross-country trip by bus back in the winter of 1979-80. We spent about half an hour in front of an old hotel (in Evanston, IIRC), and the place looked like a scene out of Steinbeck. I will always regret the fact that I didn't have the time to explore a little further.

Enjoy, and get back to us with your impressions.
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:17 PM
 
2,493 posts, read 2,529,279 times
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You'll be crossing some great country. I got to call it home for only a couple years.

Definitely pack enough to survive in your car. If you get in a tough spot, all the whining in the world won't help you.

I've had to tell myself on more than one occasion that even 35 or 40 mph was still moving forward. You'll get through if you don't over estimate your front wheel drive or 4x4. Nothing works on black ice. It's good country with good people in it.

You may run into some weather, or it can be in the 60s and sunny.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:54 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,546 posts, read 39,924,861 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scorpio516 View Post
I was really let down when I stopped at Little America in June. If I would have stayed on 80 for one more stop, I could have saved like 0.10 per gallon (which is substantial on a 35g tank that was getting 8-10 mpg lol)
I said to get ICE CREAM not FUEL at Little America.

Fuel is usually cheapest near Sinclair, WY, but Rawlins (nearby) can be high.

I go 1200 miles / tank, and just need to keep my eyes peeled for a Chinese or Mexican Cafe for best Waste Veggie Oil. 50 mpg since 1976, no dinosaurs (or OPEC) required

Yes; hope for a good couple days to cross I-80 route. Usually little to NO Problem. I like driving it at night. Fewer rental trucks and folks gawking at antelope.

Get in and GO
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:34 AM
 
16,522 posts, read 20,966,979 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillkit View Post
Couple of suggestions:

1. If the overhead traffic sign at Laramie, WY says anything about high wind, blowing snow or ice, get off the interstate and take US-30 west. That sign indicates what's going on where I-80 goes around Elk Mountain and it's arguably the worst stretch of road you'll encounter if the weather is bad. That's where vehicles get blown off the road. US-30, on the other hand, stays at a much lower elevation and comes back into I-80 past Elk Mountain. You may still get the snow or ice, but you won't get the "blow."

2. If there's any indication of snow at the higher altitudes, you can avoid Parley's Summit on I-80 just before Salt Lake City by exiting off onto I-84, just past the Utah line. It takes you thorough a canyon in the Wasatch Front instead of over the top as I-80 does. When you exit the canyon, go south on US-89 a few miles and it'll blend right into I-15 south, which will take you back to I-80.

3. If it's snowing in the Sierra's west of Reno, you only have two routes you can take to Sacramento: I-80 or US-50. They are the only routes CALTRANS plows through the mountains on a regular basis. And, it DOES snow up there. A lot. And, just about all the time. In fact, there was snow up there this week. But, they do a good job of keeping it passable. If the road is open, it is drivable, though there will probably be snow pack. Personally, I'd stay on I-80.

Just as you cross the state line, I-80 goes up at about a 6% grade for 6 or 7 miles. Don't worry about it. If it's snow packed, just watch your RPM's. If you have a standard transmission and the rear end starts to slip, just let off the gas and let it lug. Do NOT downshift unless you just have to. Where most people get into trouble is trying to keep the RPM's too high or during a shift. If you're driving an automatic transmission, use the manual selection to keep it in a lower gear.

After the summit at Truckee, the downgrade into Sacramento is about 40 miles long and consists of a series of slight downgrades interspersed with flat or even uphill sections. The downgrades are marked for length and grade so you'll know what's ahead of you and you can adjust your speed accordingly.

All across I-80 in December, you might run into winter weather. In the western states, they have barriers which they can use to close the road. In the ones more to the east, you'll have to be the judge of whether or not you should continue. If it makes you nervous, stop for the night and give the plows a chance to work.
Lots of good advice on this thread, particularly this post!

One nasty storm I went through on I-80 didn't even involve a passing storm, but 30 to 40 M.P.H. winds whipping up the snow that was already on the ground. This was between Rawlins and the hwy. 789 turnoff that goes to Craig, Colorado. I'd been on this stretch a few times before so I didn't get too excited about it. I knew exactly how many miles it would be to that exit. Visibily was poor to say the least but I just took it easy and stayed a safe distance behind a UPS truck. Once I got off the exit and went south on 789 maybe three miles, visibility was ok!

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 11-02-2012 at 10:43 AM..
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Central Mass
1,972 posts, read 2,465,194 times
Reputation: 1956
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2nd trick op View Post
It's worth noting that I-80 and it's predecessor, US 30, parallel the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, which in turn parallels the Overland Trail (though the latter crosses the Continental Divide via South Pass rather than what railroad buffs call "Sherman Hill"). All this makes for a lot of history, and some interesting thoughts if you're a "frustrated civil engineer" who can see the reason behind the roads, rails and superhighways crossing each other.

There's a lot of history in towns like Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, Granger, Rock Springs and Evanston as well. I can recall my first cross-country trip by bus back in the winter of 1979-80. We spent about half an hour in front of an old hotel (in Evanston, IIRC), and the place looked like a scene out of Steinbeck. I will always regret the fact that I didn't have the time to explore a little further.

Enjoy, and get back to us with your impressions.
My biggest complaint is, though, the rails originally went north of the Great Salt Lake while 80 goes south... I'd really have liked the golden spike to have been easier to get to from 80 - thus I've never been (between driving a Jeep with a 10' trailer and driving a 28' Uhaul, I never want to go too far out of the way )
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Central Mass
1,972 posts, read 2,465,194 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
I said to get ICE CREAM not FUEL at Little America.

Fuel is usually cheapest near Sinclair, WY, but Rawlins (nearby) can be high.
I know, I know. I was just disturbed that it didn't live up to it's (excessive) advertisements

I like how Sinclair, and the rest of WY, is basically the only places you can get Sinclair gas stations anymore. Nice blast from the past.

Something I've found about Rawlins is that gas can very $0.20/g just from one side of town to the other, or from station to station. Sometimes more than 0.20...
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:07 PM
 
17 posts, read 37,667 times
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Default I-80 in winter

I-80 in winter can be treacherous due to snow and/OR wind. They sometimes have to close the interstate on 50-degree days because the wind blows semis off the road. If you don't have either of these factors, driving it is a breeze (although mind-numbing). If there's slop on the road, try to stay away from trucks as they fling it at you faster than you can clear your windshield. In wind, the trucks create wind shears that can hurl you off the road.

Suggestions: If you get gas in Laramie, use exit 313 (3rd Street), head north and pass the first couple of gas stations (they have more expensive gas). On the RH side is a Gasamat (Sheridan Street) that typically has the cheapest gas in town. On the LH side before you reach the Gasamat (Steele Street) is Loaf 'n' Jug with a decent convenience store and cheap gas. We also use the truck stop at the west end of Rawlins (Flying J?) on the north side of the interstate. There are several gas stations in Rock Springs (Elk Street exit in the middle of town) and in Evanston.

If you're spending the night in WY, I'd recommend Laramie and Cheyenne on the east side, Green River, Little America, or Evanston (last town before Utah). There is NOTHING in between towns on I-80, and most towns are 90-100 miles apart, so plan accordingly. If they close the highway while you're still on it, you can be stuck behind the closure for hours--don't run out of gas, water, food... we keep sleeping bags, snow shovels, gloves, etc., in our cars just in case. Verizon has the most extensive cell-phone coverage in WY, and even Verizon doesn't cover some of I-80.

Depending on the where the storms are, I-40 (south through New Mexico) and I-90 (northern route through WY/MT) can be just as treacherous as I-80. I-70 gets the most snow of all--that's why all the big Colorado ski resorts are located near it.

If the weather looks bad, I would suggest postponing your trip or at least waiting out the weather. Even when they open the road, that doesn't mean it's clear sailing. The trucks have to get through, and they have the chains and the weight to stay on the road. Winter driving in the mountain west cannot be taken lightly!

Safe travels and good luck!
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Old 11-15-2012, 04:59 PM
 
Location: Coos Bay, Oregon
7,142 posts, read 8,875,789 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scorpio516 View Post
It's long. It's boring. It's desolate. It gets snow in June...

You will need chains. Get them, know how to put them on, and know how to drive with them on. It's easy if you know how, but you don't want to learn on the side of the road at midnight in a blizzard...
I don't think the OP will need chains. Just good snow tires will be enough. If the roads gets that bad I'd recommend waiting it out until conditions improve.

I've driven I-80 in the winter, and never needed chains. Biggest problem is blowing snow and white out conditions in Wyoming.
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Old 11-16-2012, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Central Mass
1,972 posts, read 2,465,194 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaaBoom View Post
I don't think the OP will need chains. Just good snow tires will be enough.
Unless CHP requires you to put on chains or turn around
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:56 AM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
28,490 posts, read 62,120,010 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scorpio516 View Post
Unless CHP requires you to put on chains or turn around
Or... use a day of that extra time (that's been allotted for weather) at the casino's in Reno.

Spend the night and as soon as the roads are clear...
hit the all you can eat breakfast bar and you'll be in SF for lunch.
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