Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 18
  1. #1

    Default Dallas to Rapid City in December

    We are headed up the day after Christmas to visit our daughter. I look at the map and Nebraska looks well...kind of bare.

    I'm wondering what a good route would be. We have NO experience driving in winter weather.

    Susan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default prepare

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There's certainly no way to avoid the chance of winter weather across the plains in December, so you need to be prepared to deal with winter weather conditions.

    The shortest and likely fastest way would be to take I-35 and I-135 into Kansas, US-81 to Nebraska. I-80 to US-281 in Grand Island, and take that north to South Dakota. From there US-18 and US-183 would take you to I-90.

    However, if the weather is looking bad, you might want to stick to an all-interstate route, using I-35 to Kansas City, I-29 to Sioux Falls, and I-90 from there. That adds about 150 miles to your overall trip, but it could be easier if the weather is bad.

    In either case, you need to plan for 2 long days and have a third day available in case you hit bad weather.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Short and To the Point

    As has been said here in many posts, the best winter route is the shortest, and the Interstates are the best maintained and first cleared in any storm. In your case you'll have to balance those two general rules. Take I-35 north to Wichita and then I-135 to Salina, continuing north on US-81 to I-80 in Nebraska. After a short drive west on I-80 to near Grand Isle, take NE-2 northwest to US-83 finishing your drive on I-90 to Rapid City. at a shade over 1,050 miles, that's a full two day drive, with the halfway point being in southern Nebraska, maybe when you get to I-80.

    As far as Nebraska being "bare" that is both a reality and a perception. It is largely a farming and ranching area, but there is still a lot to do there, and any number of refreshing stops along the Interstates as well.

    In general, your best preparation for winter driving is to keep an eye on the weather forecasts before you depart and while you're on the road. If you do know there's a storm coming that you'll be uncomfortable driving through, you can either push up or delay your departure to avoid it, or pull up and let it do its thing - and then let the road crews do theirs - before continuing your journey. But people do manage to drive in snow every day of the winter.

    AZBuck

  4. #4

    Default Thanks

    This is certainly going to be an adventure.

    I really appreciate the information. In Texas we don't think of "winter kits."

    One of my daughter's friends suggested this site and told me that the folks here were very nice and helpful.

    I've never been to either Nebraska or South Dakota so I will certainly see new things. My daughter's roommate is a helicopter pilot and does aerial tours of Mt. Rushmore. I hope the weather is nice enough to get to go.

    We also expect to visit Deadwood. Our girl says it is one of the prettiest places she's seen. (I'm watching the show right now...)

    Thanks again!

    Susan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    My mapping program actually shows the fastest way to be I-35 to Wichita and Emporia, I-335 to Topeka, 470 and 70 around the west side of town, then US-75 to Nebraska City, NE/IA-2 across the river, I-29 to Sioux Falls, and I-90 to Rapid City. This is 150 miles longer than the shortest route, but Microsoft's math says it will take less time for some reason. It would be the way I'd choose in the winter, and I'd allow for 2.5 days, it calculates to 18 hours point to point not including any stops for anything. I'd look at your overnights in Topeka and somewhere on I-90.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default algorithms

    It is interesting to see how the computers figure the "fastest" route when you're talking about 2 places that aren't directly connected by interstates. Their math programs to determine how fast you could go, especially on 2 lane highways, are all a little bit different.

    With 4 online programs, I got 3 different routes.

    Google goes with the route I first listed as the shortest, going straight north on US-281 from Grand Island, NE.

    Mapquest and Rand McNally basically used the route Buck recommend. Instead of US-281 through Nebraska, it goes northwest on NE-2 from Grand Island to North US-83 and onto I-90. This route was about 10 miles shorter.

    MSN.com maps came up with a totally different option that is very different from all the others. It recommend I-35/I-135 and then west on I-70 to Hays KS. Then it goes north on US-183 to Elm Creek NE where it goes West again on I-80. It continues on I-80 way into the Nebraska panhandle before turing north and taking US-385 and SD-79 directly into the south side of Rapid City. This option is about 40 miles farther than the google or mapquest suggestions.

    To me, its still a weather issue. In clear conditions, I'm pretty confident than either the Google or Mapquest routes would be the fastest. You can make pretty good time on the prairie, and speed limits are usually about 65 mph in these areas. However, in the winter, its pretty easy to get the wind really blowing snow and causing drifts, I would have some concerns about driving through some pretty rural area that could be have their road crews stretched pretty thin. (I know I wouldn't want to be responsible for clearing all the roads in Cherry County, Nebraska during a winter storm!). If the weather was questionable, in this case, I'd take one of the options using the Interstates and go up to Sioux Falls before cutting west.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You even have 5 speed adjustment sliders in MS S&T for the different types of roads, but I leave them all centered. In the winter, I'd almost always look at Interstates as being the least risky. If you were to take the route that my software came up with, I'd even think about foregoing the US-75 segment and take 335/70 all the way into KC and go up I-29 from there if the weather was iffy. On the Interstates, there are plenty of services but if you get out in the boonies, it can get pretty lonely and cell coverage gets very spotty. I've traveled through northern Nebraska on US-20 and up US-385 and SD-79 to Rapid City, and there ain't much out there. If you have no winter driving experience, stick to the Interstates for best safety.

  8. Default

    It is really hard to say which one is the best, I would definitley look in the short run for the weather forecasts and descide then!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Generally agree, except in Texas

    The Texas highway department lacks the resources for snow removal from highways and whenever I hit snow in Texas I get off the interstate highways and travel on the two-lane roads. The reason is going to sound contrary.... there is more snow and therefore better traction on the two-lane routes. What often happens on the Interstates is that the truck traffic grinds the snow into ice channels and it is extremely rough to drive an uncleared Interstate highway -- much slipping and sliding -- unless the snow is more than 6 inches I will always take my chances on the unplowed snow. (One caveat -- I have thousands of hours of driving in snow conditions).

    Mark

  10. #10

    Default This is so helpful

    I'm looking at our forecast.

    We're planning to take off before dawn on the 26th and drive until we get too tired to drive more. Our forecast looks clear with temps in the mid fifties. Hopefully that above freezing temp will get us a couple of states north.

    I didn't realize there were so many trip planning tools online. I don't get out much for roadtrips. I'm a school teacher and I take students to Europe most spring breaks, but then I'm not the one driving!

    Most of my roadtrips are familiar territory to me, between Dallas and Memphis or the bootheel of Missouri. I've seen sandstorms that turned into mudstorms and once hit a "blizzard" outside of Little Rock.

    The upside to this is that I've got almost a week fudge room. We plan to be home by New Year's but I don't have to be back at work until the 6th. Sadly we can't stay long, but we miss our girl. She's working Christmas day as the low human on the totem pole at KOTA territory news. We plan to be there during her two days off from reporting.

    I'm sure she plans to wear the weatherman out while we are on the road. I guess it's good that she has the hook up at the TV station!

    Thanks so much everyone!!

    Susan

Similar Threads

  1. Roadtrip Dallas to San Jose in December
    By neo in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 10-04-2008, 06:12 PM
  2. RAPID CITY to LOS ANGELES
    By Scottish Family in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-27-2008, 04:36 PM
  3. Central Calif to Rapid City, SD
    By MsPerla in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-13-2008, 07:19 AM
  4. Moving from Seattle to Dallas via LA 1st week of December 03
    By Iwan Yustana in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 12-11-2006, 07:53 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name

    Loading...



  • MORE STORIES