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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Seattle / Baltimore

    Default Seattle -> Baltimore mid December


    I'm new to this forum and thought I should ask the experts here for their opinion.

    I'm relocating to Baltimore from Seattle.

    We have a quattro with winter tires, and had some snow experience in US in February with a rental car in the Lake Tahoo area heading down on a loop from Seatlle - Tahoo- Las Vegas - Grand Canyon - Joshoa Tree - LA - Monterey - San Francisco - Portland - Seattle.

    I'm used to snow in cities but so far have not made a trip in winter across the rockies.

    I was planning the following route:
    Day1 leaving after lunch with friends Seattle - Baker (OR) 380 miles
    Day2 Baker - Salt Lake City 460 miles (pass SLC and stay somewhere on the road)
    Day3 SLC - Cheyenne 440 miles (pass Cheyenne and stay somewhere on the road)
    Day4 Cheyenne - Raytown 693 miles (I'd expect this section to be more 500 -550 miles, depending where we stayed the night before)
    Day5+6 Raytown - Baltimore 1080 miles

    We're used to long driving I expect to drive between 8 and 10 hours a day, starting early in the morning at dawn maybe 1 hour into dusk.

    I don't think we will have time for sightseeing, which is a pity but we have to be in Baltimore within 7 days.

    Do you think this is realistic ?
    How are the weather conditions on I-80 compared to I-70 ?
    Other routes for suggestions ?
    Where would you expect to hit snow in mid December ? Other than in the rockies.

    Regarding sightseeing, we've seen almost the whole Westcoast
    and most of the Nationalparks in Utah/Arizona, Mesa Verde being the most East we've made and Joshoa tree the most south.

    Thanks for your suggestions/links and recommendations.

    Drive safe !

  2. #2

    Default Seems fine to me

    Hello BB,

    While I haven't charted it out, the miles per day seem quite reasonable. If I were to do this myself, I might lean towards somewhat longer days in the West and Great Plains and save the lower-distance days for the Midwest, Appalachians, and Easten Seaboard. That's primarily personal preference.

    In mid-December, you may encounter snow at any place on the route. Due to high elevations, the stretch from Ogden, UT to Cheyenne, WY would seem most likely. You can avoid what would be the highest or second highest pass on the route by avoiding Salt Lake City (SLC). To do this, simply stay on I-84 east of Ogden until it joins I-80 around 30 miles east of there. If you were to make the short drop south down I-15 from Ogden to SLC to grab I-80, you'd have to climb up Parley's Summit, topping out at around 7,500'.

    I am not familiar with the passes between UT and OR so can't comment on snow possibilities there. There's a reasonable chance of snow in the Appalachians once you get to this side of the country.

    One comment on "passing SLC and staying somewhere on the road" is there are fairly limited options across WY (which you enter just east of Ogden). Evanston, Little America, Green River, Rock Springs, and Rawlins come to mind, but be aware of what the weather is doing ahead of you and avoid driving deep into weather and belatedly trying to find a room.

    Have a safe trip and welcome to the East Coast.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Seattle / Baltimore


    Hi Foy,

    thank you for the suggestion via I-84 and the reminder regarding few places where one can stay. I'm borrowing an Edge/wireless card from a friend for my laptop to be able to check out the weather ahead of us and also Motels/Hotels more or less in real time.

    Do you know of a webpage which lists all passes on US Highways ? 7500ft corresponds to 2500m that should certainly have snow. I'd expect snow anywhere past 1500 m (4500ft), but I don't have a topographic map to figure this out.

    One more question, anybody out there with experience with a Audi Quattro and snow chains ? Do I need 4 chains or are two sufficient ? I would only put them up on snow covered ice or in a snow storm.

    Thanks !

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

    Default Awd?

    I don't know of a listing for all of the passes, although many atlases and maps will show the major passes and elevations. If you find a list, please let us know.

    I will say more importantly, when you are talking about a mid december trip, you'll have the potential to see snow virtually everywhere regardless of elevation. Certainly the plains and midwest get their share of snowfall in december.

    For chains, consult your owners manual, however, as a general rule, chain go on the "drive wheels." If your car has All Wheel Drive, you will need to put chains on all 4 wheel. In fact, since because of how AWD systems work, putting them on just 2 wheels can cause some problems for the various systems that your car uses to know which wheels need power.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I don't think you can fit full snow chains on a Quattro due to wheel well clearance. What you need are "cable chains", and they need to be used on all 4 wheels on an AWD system. They can be bought or ordered from auto parts stores and tire stores, the cheapest I've seen them are at Walmarts in snow country. Mine cost $88 a pair ordered from O'Reilly, but the same size is $56 at Walmart.

  6. #6

    Default A Quattro--I missed that in the original post

    I don't know how I missed that your vehicle is a AWD Quattro. Again, I'll leave it to others to say for sure, but I think the Western states' requirements are for chains or 4WD or AWD. In short, you may not need to acquire chains at all. If I were to learn the AWD would meet the requirements, I'd forego cable/chains altogether. Quite frankly, if it gets bad enough that an AWD Quattro needs chains, I'm looking for a motel to begin with.

    Good move on the wireless card and laptop. Be sure to bring an inverter to plug into the cigarette lighter outlet so the screen will be nice and bright and you won't have to be so concerned with laptop battery life.

    I also do not know of lists of passes and their elevations, but as noted, good highway atlases will often show key elevations. I agree that most anywhere out West above around 4,500' has a heightened liklihood of snow, but it can and does surely snow at lower elevations. Ask the good citizens of Salt Lake City (elevation about 4,000'). If I were anxious to know the elevations, I'd consult a quality highway atlas, look for the green shaded areas intersecting my route (where the green areas are usually National Forests, and the great majority of NF acreage is within mountain ranges), locate a named pass on my route, and google it if the pass' elevation is not marked directly on the atlas. One might also simply google "topography + Wyoming", for example, and bring up a listing.

    Excepting WA, OR, and ID, where I am not familiar with the topography, your principal higher elevation segment is between Ogden, UT and Cheyenne, WY. It was recently pointed out in a thread about I-80 that it holds elevations at or above 6,000' all the way from the UT line to just east of Laramie. It can be a bit misleading, as the higher and more rugged mountains are in the distance as you travel across butte and mesa country, but it's high out there.

    Keep digging at it and I'll bet you find pass elevations somewhere.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You may find conditions where chains or cables are required even on 4wd/AWD vehicles. If it's that bad, go hole up somewhere and let it clear unless you absolutely have to keep moving. Considering that top speed with chains should be no more than 20 to 25 mph, you might as well wait it out. You say that you have winter tires - that makes a very sure-footed vehicle even better.

  8. Default

    How do you plan on getting from Seattle to Baker?

    If it's I-90 east to I-82 to I-84, be careful for ice and snow on Snoqualmie Pass just east of Seattle. It's not that high up, but gets dumped on with regularity. I-82 is a so-so road. Only tough spot might be when you drop into the canyon to cross the Columbia river.

    If You take I-5 to I-84, just remember the Columbia River Gorge's big issue is high winds. It's like a funnel.

    On I-84 just east of Pendleton you have Cabbage Hill that leads you up to Dead Man's Pass. Going East is better than going west, as you'll be climbing mostly. But it is extremely curvy, there's not much in the way of guard rails, and you're on the side of the mountain the whole way.

    Don't rush, take it easy.

    After that, there's some hills and curves, but nothing bad. It isn't until you get near Idaho does it pick up. The last 40 miles or so has some big wind-swept hills.

    Idaho is relatively flat the entire way to Utah. I say this with one caveat. The wind gets real bad at times as it's all relatively flat land. The east-central part of the state (Twin Falls to UT) has some really bad snow/sand storms caused by the wind. The stretch from the I-84/I-86 interchange to the state line can be closed due to weather at any time. And even if it's not closed, bad weather can crop out out of nowhere. It's the wind, not the snow, rain, or ice that makes this trouble.

    Utah has a couple hills before you reach I-15. The biggest being the one right before I-15. It's a long slow grade that is exposed to fierce cross winds. So, keep it easy there.

    And definitely, definitely, definitely, go on I-84 to Echo, UT to meet up with I-80. Do not go down I-15. There's no sense going out of your way to climb up and over Parleys Summit.

    After that, Wyoming has a lot of ups and downs I posted on another thread (Pleasanton, CA to Milford, CT). The Sisters (after mm6), Elk Mountain (Rawlins to Laramie), and Sherman Hill/Happy Jack Summit (east of Laramie) are the problem spots.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Seattle / Baltimore


    Thank you all for your replies and suggestions.

    I was planning to take I90 to Baker. We've taken the SLC route on our way to Bryce and the other canyons. And we've had some windy bits in ID but the roads there (in summer) where much nicer - built for speed :-) Of course in winter you should adapt to the road conditions.
    Thank you for pointing out the 2 versus 4 snow chains/cables - I assumed that, but wasn't certain. It didn't occur to me to look into the manual of the car :-) I'll check if anything is mentioned there at all. And I agree the Audi Quattro with winter tires should be very solid on snow (I remember an advertisement of an A4 quattro driving uphill on fresh snow, but I thought that was not real just an exaggeration) - the snow cables are just another backup and if weather get's too bad I'd rather take a break. There's no need to risk something - I can always call someone in Baltimore that I'm delayed and someone then will take care of the moving company unloading our household.

    inverter, iPod, GPS only the onboard Espresso maker is missing :-)

    Thanks again for your help. I'll check REI if they have some topomaps where I can check the route.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Seattle / Baltimore


    We originally wanted to go south on I5 down to LA and then via Phenix St. Louis to Baltimore - but that's adding an extra 1000 miles and I don't think 4000 miles are doable in 6 days or 7 at most. But that route might avoid snow storms.

    What do you think about this alternative route ?

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