crossing the rockies in january

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chaplainrobert

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Aug 25, 2011
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Cottage Grove, Oregon
I am currently just south of Eugene, OR and my current work assignment ends January 4. I don't know where I am headed to next but will need to get on the other side of the rocky mountains at some point. Where is the best crossover. I don't mind trekking south to get to the easiest pass, I just don't know what highway to use to head east. Any recommendations?
 
Check current weather conditions, but I84/I80 is usually just fine.  Being a major highway the DOT always keeps them pretty clear.
 
Depends a lot on where you're headed to. Since you're in the northwest, it would be silly to go all the way south to I-40 to cross unless you were going to end up somewhere south. I-10 is probably the easiest but again, it's way south. I-80 and I-70 are both major truck routes and are usually kept clear unless there's a bad storm. Keep an eye on weather conditions and hunker down somewhere if it's nasty in the mountains.
 
Not sure if this is a player, but crossing on I-80 or anything else north of there will be in freezing weather. Not sure what camp grounds or facilities will be available. You could winterize your rig, and stay in motels until you get where it's warmer. By the way, they were requiring chains on I-5 at Shasta and going over I-80 over Donner last week at Xmas for a couple of days, so watch the road reports regardless of the way you go.
Just remembered 58 from Bakersfield to Las Vegas isn't bad when the wind isn't blowing.
Have a great trip.
 
Leaving from Eugene, OR, you've got a couple of mountain ranges to get over before you even get to the Rockies. You'll really have to keep an eye on the weather.

 
Leaving from Eugene, I would head to Portland and east on I-84 to I-80 and on east.  The interstates are well maintained and All in the northwest feed the ports along the coast so truck traffic is heavy.  The RV park at Boardman is open all year, it is a city park and reasonable.  Further on there are parks that are generally open in Boise and Salt Lake.  On through Wyoming and further east, I don't know about.  I believe there is at least one near Cheyenne.

If you are headed further north, like MN etc., then at the Umatilla you can head north on 395 to Ritzville and then east on I-90.  I would not go that way unless you have to as the further south you can stay, the better.  If you do go east on I-90, let me know as we make that trip in the winter frequently and can give you a list of usually available parks.

One last comment, if you don't head east on either 90 or 80, go as far south as you can, i.e., I-40 or 10.
 
Carl L said:
I-10 is the standard all-weather route across the continental divide.
I dont understand how u relate going all the way south to Hy10 from ugene Or as the easiest way to cross the rockys?
 
ticat900 said:
I dont understand how u relate going all the way south to Hy10 from ugene Or as the easiest way to cross the rockys?

Depends on where he's trying to end up. If he's headed to the south, then it certainly is the easiest way to go in January. Maybe not the shortest, but the easiest. Destination and weather make all the difference. I'm sure when the OP knows better where he's going to end up, folks here can offer better advice.

Wendy
 
Weather here is bad too but the interstate is mostly clear.  I haven't checked the passes but friend came back from Spokane on Thursday and the roads I-90 - 4 passes, were good.
 
Thank you for all the helpful replies. I am hoping to learn my destination prior to departure and anticipate it being in the southeast but in the interim, home is near Kansas City so that would be my default location until I pick up a new contract.
 
donn said:
Check current weather conditions, but I84/I80 is usually just fine.  Being a major highway the DOT always keeps them pretty clear.

Unusual snow fall this year.  I-80 has required chains (or 4x4 with snow tires) every day for the past week.  It's been closed down for hours at a time throughout the week.  At one point this past week it was closed to all traffic for 7 hours.  Clear today, though.
 
chaplainrobert said:
I am currently just south of Eugene, OR and my current work assignment ends January 4. I don't know where I am headed to next but will need to get on the other side of the rocky mountains at some point. Where is the best crossover. I don't mind trekking south to get to the easiest pass, I just don't know what highway to use to head east. Any recommendations?

If you're leaving after Jan. 4th, I'd suggest taking I-5 south to I-10 east and stop in Quartsite, Ariz. (about 20 miles across the state line from Calif.).  You'll get there in time for the largest gathering of RVs on earth.....Jan 19-27th!

http://www.quartzsitervshow.com/

http://www.quartzsitervshow.com/rv/rv-general-info/



 
I dont understand how u relate going all the way south to Hy10 from ugene Or as the easiest way to cross the rockys

Ticat900, I-10 has the lowest elevations and the fewest passes.  It kind of goes around the southern end of the Rockies so bypasses the 7,000-11,000 ft. elevations on I-80, I-70, and I-40.

Chaplainrobert, if you want to stay north my choice generally is I-80 but only if the weather is decent.  Although the passes on I-80 have more gentle elevation gains the weather can get pretty bad, especially through Wyoming where railroad-type crossing arms close off the highway and snow fences are evident.  The Plains can be pretty bad for travelers in a bad winter.  I-70 is beautiful but going over an 11,000 ft. pass in the middle of winter isn't my idea of fun.  So, if it seems you'll be going to the southeast by all means drop down to I-10 which is a much easier drive - unless there are blizzards in Texas!  There are some pretty good elevations on I-40 so I'd rather take I-10.  Whichever way you go, be prepared to hunker down, take a weather radio so you can hear NOAA broadcasts, and don't push so hard you get too tired.  We've driven all the routes except I-70 in January and it really does depend on the weather.  Stay safe!

ArdraF
 
ticat900 said:
I dont understand how u relate going all the way south to Hy10 from ugene Or as the easiest way to cross the rockys?

Simple.  You cross the Great Divide on I-10 at an altitude of less than 4600 feet.  That is the highest altitude on I-10 and the lowest point on the Divide south of the Canadian border.  In the winter that counts for a lot in terms of weather.
 
Carl L said:
Simple.  You cross the Great Divide on I-10 at an altitude of less than 4600 feet.  That is the highest altitude on I-10 and the lowest point on the Divide south of the Canadian border.  In the winter that counts for a lot in terms of weather.
yes i know that but seems odd to me if i live in oregon that iam going to drive 1000 miles south to plam springs just so i can use #10 to cross the rockys at a lower altitude
 
ticat900 said:
yes i know that but seems odd to me if i live in oregon that iam going to drive 1000 miles south to plam springs just so i can use #10 to cross the rockys at a lower altitude

Do you live in Oregon? 

Well I-90 leads you thru some serious snow country as does I-84 --- think of January in Montana, Idaho, etc.

I-80, the rirst south of Oregon takes you over Donner Pass and thru nothern NV, Utah and then Wyoming.  You sure don't miss much snow that way.  I-17 treats you to an 11,000 foot pass at the Eisenhower tunnels in CO -- a real winter wonderland.

I-40 goes over 7000 feet in northern Arizona but you have to drop down to Barstow, CA to pick that up.  As long as you are there, you might as well drive another 20 miles south and pick up I-10 at San Bernardino and take the boring route east. 

Boring can be good.  8)
 
ticat900 said:
yes i know that but seems odd to me if i live in oregon that iam going to drive 1000 miles south to plam springs just so i can use #10 to cross the rockys at a lower altitude

I'd take any of the northern routes if it were just my truck.  Pulling my trailer that far in the snow....I'd go to I-10.
 

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