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  1. Default Chicago to Irvine CA over new years

    I've googled for several days, trying to find any information I can about I-70 in January. I don't see any real horror stories, is this because they're so rare or so common? :)

    The shortest distance for us is just to take I-80 to I-70 through Colorado and Utah, but as it's going to be a Dec. 31st-Jan. 2cnd trip, I'm nervous that the long stretch between Colorado and Utah could end up with us stranded somewhere.

    Are they expecting major storms? Are road closures common?

    Another concern, and I hope this doesn't come across badly, is that we just purchased a new car. Do they coat the roads with gravel etc. that will chip up the paint on the drive?

    Our plan right now is to drive to Denver the first night. We'll wake up, check the weather report, and decide whether or not to head through Colorado/Utah or to head down to 40 and try to avoid the major weather problems. Reasonable idea? We know it adds about four hours to the trip, but getting their on the 2cnd is pretty important to us due to my job.

    Thanks a ton for any advice anyone can give!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default First things first!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm going to get to your questions about winter driving in a minute, but first let me say that planning to get to Denver the first night is not a realistic expectation. It's more than 1000 miles from Chicago to Denver, and even in ideal conditions, that would take you 18 hours to cover that distance. Even if you were to put yourself through that sort of torture, you would be in no condition to continue on your trip the next day. Covering 2050 miles in 3 days will be a major undertaking, and one that's a faster pace then I'd ever recommend, but if you are going to do it, you'll need to break it into 3 even 700 mile legs.

    Now as far as the weather goes, on any given route you could see clear weather or see a winter storm. There simply is no way of knowing the forecast more than a few days into the future. The best advice is to check the forecasts the day you leave. If they are expecting storms in Colorado and Utah or Wyoming, then head towards I-40, via St. Louis and Tulsa. If bad weather is expected in the southern plains, then head west on I-80.

    The next day, repeat the process. Via I-80, your first stop should be around North Platte, NE, from there you can see which route would be clearer, I-70 through Colorado or I-80 through Wyoming, or if they are both seeing poor conditions, you could also see about cutting all the way down to I-40. If you follow the I-55/I-44/I-40 route, your first night will be around Tulsa. Check the forecast, and if I-40 looks poor, you can consider going all the way to Dallas, and then working over to I-10 and across.

    Now despite all of this, it might be impossible to avoid winter weather. In that case, you will simply need to slow down, even if it means getting to your destination a day or two later than you'd like. Its just a fact of winter traveling.

    As far as your question about gravel, there is no interstate highway in the country that has a gravel surface. That said, there is no highway in the world that is completely free of rocks and other debris. The only way to completely avoid the risk of rock chips is to avoid driving altogether.

    Good luck and happy traveling.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply!

    I didn't see any major construction projects above normal or any landscape features that would slow us down too much once outside of Chicago traffic. Pretty sure the I-70/I-80 speedlimit is 70 for a good portion of the trip, and I've been known to do a few miles an hour over that. It's a lot of pure driving time for sure (16 hours is what I've guessed, avg. 62mph over the entire trip when driving), which puts us in Denver right around 11:30 at night. having made two stops for a total of an hour.

    I did the trip once before several years ago and don't remember exactly how long it took, but that's where we did it all in a day, and five years ago, during that horrible ice storm in the South East, I drove to Tampa from South Bend in a day which is 1100 miles or so with a chunk of that through mountains. That turned into a pretty nasty trip, ended up taking almost 22 hours thanks to the storms.

    I tried to look for spots that seemed like good stops before Denver, but didn't really see anything. It will be tiring for sure, and there will be another 700 mile trip afterwards to get close to where I want to be the next day, but I want to rush through the part of the trip that I can so I can deal with any slowdowns afterwards with less panic.

    1000, then 700, then 300 was the plan. More rest the more tired we get, and plenty of room to do 500-500 if we had to.

    We do intend to check the weather each day, we're just hoping for clear conditions in the critical areas.

    I don't mean to be argumentative at all by the way, and registered here due to the great advice, but for that first stretch I think we can tackle it if we decide to head the Denver route the first night.

    One thing you mentioned that I hadn't thought of was altering the route from the very beginning based on a 2 day forecast for the area, that will shave some time!

    (just checked and the speed limit for I-80 for the trip is 70 through Iowa and 75 through Nebraska, definitely will help out)
    Last edited by Alvist; 12-13-2006 at 03:48 PM.

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

    Default Not just the distance

    I will say that the distance isn't the only reason I'd stop sooner. If you stopped before the I-76 split in Nebraska, you'd be in a better position to detour to I-80 if the weather in Colorado has deteriorated. Staying on I-80 through Wyoming would not add significant time to your trip, unlike taking I-25 south to I-40, which would add several hours of travel.

    Since you are just looking for a place to sleep, there are plenty of places along I-80. If you wanted to push past North Platte, Ogallala also has several hotels which would work for you - and they get Denver TV, so you'd get a good idea about what weather you'll be facing to the west.

    For what its worth, even with a 75 mph speed limit, 57mph is usually the fastest you can travel once you factor in stops for food and fuel. You might be able to hit 62, but you'll have to avoid traffic (not just in cities, but also with Truck traffic, etc), drive above 80 mph for most of your trip, and keep your stops as short as you can.

  5. Default

    Ogallala does have a few, and I didn't know they got Denver TV. That's great! That's nearly 800 miles, and there are a few in Beaver, UT also that's a little over 700 miles away if we go that route.

    Definitely going to consider it.

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