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  1. Default Vancouver, B.C., to Phoenix, AZ in January

    We're planning on leaving sometime in the next week or two (early January), to drive down to Arizona from the Canadian border (at Blaine, WA State).

    I'm concerned about winter weather en route, particularly high mountain passes, so I thought we might not take the most direct route (I-5, I-90, I-82, I-84), which is essentially WA through OR, Idaho into Utah...etc. But this is the ideal routine, both in terms of directness, and we've never driven this way before (Pacific Coast Hwy and I-5 are both 'been there, done that' routes).

    The alternative would be to stick to I-5 into Northern CA, then head East....however, it seems to me that we're still going to have to deal with high elevations in Oregon and part of Northern CA, and potentially Nevada, as well.

    We have some flexibility to time our departure when the weather seems okay, but it's been my experience driving through mountains, that all that can change pretty quickly, turning a 5 hour drive into a 2-day ordeal!

    We'd like to do the drive in 3 days.

    Any thoughts on ideal routes from anyone who has done this, or a similar road trip?

    Suggested overnight points would also be appreciated!

    Many thanks, and Happy New Year!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Need for flexibility in route planning

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Corrected View Post
    I'm concerned about winter weather en route,
    Yes, you need to have some built-in time for winter weather -- as you might know, the PNW has been hammered with extraordinarily bad winter storms already this year. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    so I thought we might not take the most direct route (I-5, I-90, I-82, I-84), which is essentially WA through OR, Idaho into Utah...etc.
    The route you have outlined is the probably the best for avoiding the worst weather in a normal year -- but so far all bets are off on that score.
    The alternative would be to stick to I-5 into Northern CA, then head East....however, it seems to me that we're still going to have to deal with high elevations in Oregon and part of Northern CA, and potentially Nevada, as well.
    Weirdly, the latter route has had considerably less snow and winter weather thus far this year.
    We'd like to do the drive in 3 days.
    It's possible, but you need to allow five days....

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    My mapping program shows the fastest route is I-5 to just north of LA, I-210 to CA-57 to I-10 to Phoenix. It also says it's a 3 day drive under "normal" conditions. It recommends overnight stops near Grants Pass OR and Coalinga CA.

    You might want to have a set of cable chains with you in case the controls are active in southern OR and northern CA.

    I don't see how you would get there through Utah without taking non-Interstates or backtracking considerably.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the suggestions (and the welcome!).

    Interesting; I used a different map service (to Mapquest), and it does 'default' to the I-5 route North of LA (Mapquest showed the route through Idaho/Utah). I have to think that 1-5 South is probably the safest bet, given that I know the route, and (correct me if I'm wrong), under 'normal circumstances' (whatever 'normal' might be given our weather patterns), this route would see to have fewer high altitude/severe winter weather sections. Would that be accurate?

    Also, forgive the dumb question, but on an AWD vehicle (I have an Infiniti EX35), would I use 2 or 4 chains?

    Thanks again for the help!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    This is a quote from Caltrans:

    Types of Chain Controls:

    During the winter months, motorists may encounter traction chain controls in the mountain areas within California. When chain controls are established, signs will be posted along the road indicating the type of requirement. There are three requirements in California.

    Requirement One (R1): Chains, traction devices or snow tires are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles.

    Requirement Two (R2): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.
    (NOTE: Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)

    Requirement Three (R3): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

    Snow-tread Tires:

    The California vehicle code section 558 defines a snow-tread tire as follows, " A 'Snow-tread tire' is a tire which has a relatively deep and aggressive tread pattern compared with conventional passenger tread pattern". Snow-tread tires can be identified by examining the sidewall of the tire where the letters MS, M/S, M+S or the words MUD AND SNOW have been stamped into the sidewall.
    Oregon is a bit different, quoted below:

    In typical winter conditions, the following vehicles are completely or partially exempt from the chain law. However, in very bad winter road conditions all vehicles may be required to use chains regardless of the type of vehicle or type of tire being used (this is known as a conditional road closure). A conditional road closure may occur on any of Oregon's highways and are frequent in the winter on Interstate 5 through the Siskiyou Pass south of Ashland:

    # A four-wheel or all-wheel drive passenger vehicle if all of the following statements are true:

    a) It has an unloaded weight of 6,500 pounds or less;
    b) It is operated to provide power to both the front and rear wheels;
    c) It is carrying chains;
    d) It has mud and snow, all-weather radial, or traction tires on all of its wheels;
    e) It is not towing another vehicle;
    f) It is not being operated in a manner or under conditions that cause the vehicle to lose traction.
    As far as 2 or 4, consult your owner's manual regarding chain usage.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default One of our members is an expert on all things related to chains

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Corrected View Post
    Also, forgive the dumb question, but on an AWD vehicle (I have an Infiniti EX35), would I use 2 or 4 chains?
    In addition to Foy's excellent ideas -- I would suggest you contact "San Diego Highwayman" or look at his site for more information about your vehicle!

    Mark

  7. Default

    Thanks,

    According to the manual, chains go on the rear wheels only. Picked up a set of cable chains, locally (last ones I could find within 100 miles!).

    Appreciate all the help.

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