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Thread: Rocky Mountains

  1. Default Rocky Mountains

    My husband and I are doing a speed trip to NYC from Los Angeles, making a stop in Lombard, IL to visit family. We are leaving the day after tomorrow - even though Saturday is not the best day to start a road trip or drive through Las Vegas. :)

    We are taking the 15 to the 70 to the 76 to the 80. The problem is that I am terrified of mountain driving.

    I know it is supposed to be beautiful, but just how dangerous is it to drive through the Rockies? I also wondered how early we will encounter the Rocky Mountains on this route. Will we begin to see them in Utah or Colorado?

    Any help or feedback from those who have driven this route before would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Rockies

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    Since this is a speed run and you will be making the entire journey on the Interstate Highway System, you really do not need to worry. There are limits on how steep and how curvy any piece of the interstate system can be. These roads are made to be as safe as possible. In fact, I-70 through the Rockies in Utah and Colorado is one of the most beautiful pieces of that network. You can also check out these tips on mountain driving, but really, this is a drive that is far more to be enjoyed than feared.

    The Rockies are a collection of mountains that include the Wasatch and Uinta ranges in Utah. You will enter them in central Utah as you move from the Basin and Range province to the Rockies, and will exit them when you come down into Denver.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default One of many -- But you can do it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Melodygranger
    My husband and I are doing a speed trip to NYC from Los Angeles, making a stop in Lombard, IL to visit family. We are leaving the day after tomorrow - even though Saturday is not the best day to start a road trip or drive through Las Vegas
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Actually, Saturday is by far the BEST day to drive through Las Vegas, traffic is less on Saturdays than any other day of the week, with the possible exception of Monday mornings.
    We are taking the 15 to the 70 to the 76 to the 80. The problem is that I am terrified of mountain driving.
    That is an unfortunate affliction. The good news is that the Interstate highway system tends to flatten most mountain climbs and if you squint you can imagine that you are driving on level ground for most of the trip. The bad news is that there are two rather steep passes that you will go past long before you hit the Rockies. The first is the climb out of the LA Basin between Devore and the Cajon Summit. Get ready for a long sweeping climb. The second remarkable pitch is the Baker grade, just east of Baker, California where the car will seemingly need to keep climbing forever. In between these passes there are two seriously tall hills. The third pass is Mountain Pass, just before the Nevada/California state line. Once you have navigated past threse three passes you will be a mountain driving veteran and have little to fear from the passage through Utah and Colorado.

    There are 4-5 other sections that may cause your blood pressure to soar. But since you now know about them, you can check them off as you pass each one and the unknown fear of cross the continental divide will be reduced.

    These would be: The Virgin River Gorge (a small section of Arizona between Nevada and Utah on I-15) All of these passages are 4-6 lanes and you will be fine. #2 The descent through the San Rafael Reef in western Utah (actually this a gorgeous section of highway and here is a field report I wrote with photos to get you ready for what you will see). #3 Glenwood Canyon between mile marker 109 and 133 (there are lots of scenic pull-outs with nice trails to help get over the jitters) #4 Eisenhour Tunnel --- not that scary, you can't see the mountains -- but it might appear to be long. #5 The descent into Denver -- watch your downhill speed.

    The rest of the way, is rolling plains. You will be "home free".

    Relax, take deep breaths. Take this message with you (print out) and check off every high place. Being in control really does help with the fear -- and knowing what is still be passed over is part of the control.

    I absolutely love this route and drive as many times each year as I can. This is the safest time of year to drive it.

    Have fun!

    Let us know how it goes!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Or just avoid them altogether!

    Buck and Mark's posts are both very accurate. If you are sticking to the interstates, I really don't think you should have any problems. I-70 through CO and UT is an amazing stretch of road. There are no steep hairpin turns with steep dropoffs or anything like that.

    However, if you are truely terrified of doing any mountain driving at all, you could simply bypass the major passes through the Rockies altogether. If you stay on I-80 all the way to I-15 in Utah, you will be traveling through much flatter country, and your total time for the trip would remain about the same.

  5. Default Sometimes it's hard to think you're in the mountains on the interstates

    There's mountain driving, and then there's "mountain driving".

    If you stick to the interstates, you will be pretty much at the minimum on a 4 lane (2 lanes each way) superhighway. No hairpin turns, limited grades to go up or down, limited turns, guardrails, divided road, and etc. I'm more afraid of the other traffic than being in the mountains.

    A real mountain road will be 2 lanes, twisty, with significant grades and hair pin turns. There are plenty of these around -- but the interstates have very little (almost none?) of this. Coast 1 going through big Sur is more of this type of road than the interstates.

    If you have an issue with driving mountain roads, just stick to the interstates. You'll be fine. The road is not dangerous at all, unless you want to do something silly like go 90 miles per hour on wet roads. As I noted before, the worst problem isn't the road -- its the other traffic as always. Just keep your eyes out be awake like normal for things like a stopped car with mechanical problems in the road or drunk/ stupid drivers.

  6. Default Thanks

    Thanks very much for all of your wonderful and detailed feedback, it is much appreciated.
    I feel much better, because I thought that the road was going to be an extended version of the 1 (PCH) through Big Sur, or the back road out of Ojai.
    Now I can just look forward to enjoying the beauty of the drive.

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