I17 South out of Flagstaff

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Mary Jane

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Joined
Apr 27, 2011
Posts
50
I was wondering what you all know about that stretch of road down to 303. We are pulling a 31 ft. fifth wheel and a Jeep TJ with a 1 ton dually Dodge. No question it will pull it, but I don't want to stress out my husband. It is something you would typically avoid? Super steep grades? It would be really nice to be able to go that way to see and stay with friends in Surprise, AZ on our way to Bouse. But we could drive the Jeep over too.
I am grateful for any advice you can give. 
 
I am grateful for any advice you can give.

We haven't driven I-17 in quite a while so I'll leave it to someone who knows the road, however, I can recommend that you get a copy of the Mountain Directory West for Truckers, RV, and Motorhome Drivers.  For each state there is a map and difficult grades are numbered on the map.  You go to that number and find a description of the grade in question.  In this case, the road you're asking about describes the grades as 6% and it takes up about 2/3rds of the page.  There's also an edition for the east coast and we carry both with us.

Also, just as a general point of information,with the exception of I-70 over the Rockies, interstate highways tend to be no more than 6% grades.  Of course, out here in the west that 6% grade might last for 10 or 20 miles and have 25 mph curves!  The Mountain Directory prepares you for what lies ahead or warns you enough that you seek an alternate route.

ArdraF
 
Thanks for that ArdraF. I looked at that book on amazon.com and I17 was actually a features page you could scan, and you're right. It does not look like a good route if one wants to avoid stress! :D
I will leave an open mind for other replies though.
 
Mary Jane said:
I was wondering what you all know about that stretch of road down to 303. We are pulling a 31 ft. fifth wheel and a Jeep TJ with a 1 ton dually Dodge. No question it will pull it, but I don't want to stress out my husband. It is something you would typically avoid? Super steep grades? It would be really nice to be able to go that way to see and stay with friends in Surprise, AZ on our way to Bouse. But we could drive the Jeep over too.
I am grateful for any advice you can give.

There is a lot of down but never really more than 6%.  From Flagstaff at around 6000ft or so it goes down pretty constantly till Camp Verde around 3500 then you climb a pretty good hill maybe 1000ft and start going down again till Phoenix. I pulled it in my old 1994 F350 and mainly sat in 2 gear doing 35-40 going up but nothing overheated. The road itself is good, many trucks use it but pavement was in good shape last April when I was driving it.

Ray
 
Thanks Ray! I will be showing Steve (love of my life) this thread and let him make the decision.
Than you for your input you all!
 
Mary Jane said:
We are pulling a 31 ft. fifth wheel and a Jeep TJ with a 1 ton dually Dodge.

I couldn't find the ADOT restrictions, if any, on triple towing but you should inquire if it is legal in AZ.

No question it will pull it, but I don't want to stress out my husband.

I have driven I-17 in both directions frequently with our 40' DP motor home towing up to a 4,600# vehicle. The most difficult area southbound is the climb out of the Verde Valley, but if you aren't in a hurry, you just stay in line with all of the trucks and you should make it up easily. It is fairly long but never over 6% grade. I do it in cruise control, tho my speed does drop down to about 50mph in some points.
 
I see triple towing often in AZ.

BTW: Flagstaff is at 8000', not 6000' as someone stated. Most all the AZ Rim is between 7-8000' all the way to NM. I-40 is mostly much lower.

 
Thank you so much for the info on the Mountain Directory. I went ahead and downloaded both versions as DH and I are planning trip to Grand Canyon, Yellowstone this summer with our teens. I've been worrying about campgrounds and wondered about elevations for our trip. I guess its one thing to make this drive in a personal vehicle, but a whole new ballgame when it comes to traveling in a 34' RV with a F150 toad! Safety is very much a consideration and knowledge is power. Can't wait to set out on our journey!
 
n7qvu said:
I see triple towing often in AZ.

BTW: Flagstaff is at 8000', not 6000' as someone stated. Most all the AZ Rim is between 7-8000' all the way to NM. I-40 is mostly much lower.

BTW: its not 8000 - 6905 feet at city hall  ;) most websites call it 7000, so we are both wrong.
 
If you plan on getting down into the Valley I-17 is the best route we have taken although it is a long downgrade. If you are coming from the east it would be a long way  around to go over to 93 near Kingman.
 
n7qvu said:
I see triple towing often in AZ.

I've seen it in CT also and it's definitely not legal there! :) I know it's legal in many western states but at least one, CA, requires the last unit to be a boat.

One source I saw said it is legal in AZ but there's a 65' maximum length. Doesn't say it that includes the towing vehicle.
 
raytronx said:
There is a lot of down but never really more than 6%.  From Flagstaff at around 6000ft or so it goes down pretty constantly till Camp Verde around 3500 then you climb a pretty good hill maybe 1000ft and start going down again till Phoenix. I pulled it in my old 1994 F350 and mainly sat in 2 gear doing 35-40 going up but nothing overheated. The road itself is good, many trucks use it but pavement was in good shape last April when I was driving it.

Ray

There is also another steep decline (the steepest between Flagstaff and Phoenix), near Crown King, but it's not more than 6%.


Mylo
 
n7qvu said:
BTW: Flagstaff is at 8000', not 6000' as someone stated. Most all the AZ Rim is between 7-8000' all the way to NM.
Actually Flagstaff is at 6900 feet, and the south rim of the Grand Canyon is right at 7000. The north rim is 8000 feet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagstaff_az
 
Jim Dick said:
I've seen it in CT also and it's definitely not legal there! :) I know it's legal in many western states but at least one, CA, requires the last unit to be a boat.
....

For most intents, California does not permit the towing of more than one trailer.  From the CA DMV RV Handbook:

"One other thing to consider?you may only tow one vehicle with your noncommercial Class A, B, or C driver license. You may not tow two vehicles or trailers with a noncommercial Class A, B, or C driver license. EXAMPLE: You cannot tow a boat trailer and a car behind your vehicle."

California law permits the towing of more than one trailer only by the holders of a Class-A Commercial Drivers License and then only if their license has a special double tow endorsement.  Very few, if any,  of our members are likely to have a CDL with such an endorsement

 
I don't want to be your killjoy, but speaking as a former law enforcement officer, do your homework on your special circumstances. Your license, your length, and your braking systems are all part of a complicated matrix of highway regulations and they vary with the states. Especially, since you appear to be traversing a number of western states where triple towing can be an adventure, under any circumstance.

To the highway police, your unique combination is going to stand out as long and unusual, and you want to be able to survive a traffic stop and not have to break down your rig, much less pick up a fine.

It's to your advantage to be well informed because you can easily get a small jurisdiction officer who wants to make you his stop of the day. I don't like that that happens, but it does.

Homework time! and good luck!
 
Hey, if you are concerned, unhook the toad. One of you drive it and the other the truck/5er. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.
 
Mary Jane,

From Flagstaff at about 7000 feet it will be pretty much all down hill to Camp Verde at about 3100 feet. That is about 50 miles in round numbers. From the low point at Camp Verde you will climb to the top of Copper Canyon at about 4200 feet in about 6 miles. From there it is downhill all the way to PHX. From Copper Canyon to Sunset Point Rest Area it is mostly rolling hills. From Sunset Point to Black Canyon City will be you biggest drop in this area. Sunset Point is 3400 feet and Black Canyon City is 2000 feet in about 8 miles.

I live in Camp Verde and have driven this many times in our MH with towd. If you slow down to about 40 MPH before you start down the steep grade at Sunset Point I don't think you'll have any problem.
 
Wow! Thanks so much for all the various info! I do have some more homework to do it sounds like. In South Dakota, Iowa and I am pretty sure other states the fifth wheel is what makes the difference. That would never work with a bumper hitch and a toad. I know in NM it is not legal but I am told they just make you disconnect the toad and drive it through the state. However, I will do some research.  You all have been very helpful!
 
I am really surprised at the states that allow triple towing
http://www.readybrake.com/state_laws.html
 
Mary Jane said:
I am really surprised at the states that allow triple towing
http://www.readybrake.com/state_laws.html

I have a check on the reliability of such 50-state lists -- a test I fear that the cited list fails. 

Look at the California restriction on double tows (ie two trailers behind one tow vehicle.).  If the list shows that a double/triple tow is legal in California, it is lying by omission.  Yes, you can legally tow more than one trailer in California, but with a few requirements must be met:

1.  You possess a Class-A drivers license.  (Class-C is the usual sedan and pickup license);

2.  That is a Commercial Class-A license;

3.  That Commercial Class-A license has a special double-trailer endorsement from the DMV;

4.  The tow vehicle is not a "passenger vehicle";

5.  The towing of more than 2 trailers is never permitted in California.

Requirements 1 and 2, eliminate most RV owners.  Requirement 3 eliminates most commercial drivers. 

Yes, some of the multi-state lists do have a footnote, one of a hundred or so notes, that indicates that special licensing may be required.  Most seem to leave that note off, failing to copy it from their source lists.  I fear that these lists tend to be cut-and-paste copies of earlier lists.  Evidently, researching the complications of 50 US State laws is a bit wearisome. ::)

Moral:  A former US President once declared:  "Trust but verify."    I fear that I would not even begin to trust until I had researched the states that I would travel in. 

 
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