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  1. #1

    Default MN - Los Angeles

    I'm taking the family on Jan. 18 for a rather long road trip from the twin cities to Los Angeles. My wife and I will be taking turns on the wheel. We're thinking of leaving really early (5am) and drive straight through stopping only for gas, meals, naps, etc.). We're fairly experienced with winter driving as we are from Minnesota but we haven't done this drive before. We've driven our minivan from MN to FL during last year's winter and it was OK. Right now, we're leaning towards taking I-35 / US 54 / I-40/I-15 (passing by Kansas City, Wichita, Tucumcari-US 54, Albuquerque, etc.). But a cold front is arriving by Thursday and below freezing conditions for day lows will be experienced along most of the route. I'd like to get your opinion on whether it's better to just take I-35/I-80/I76/I-70/I-15 (via IA, NE, CO, UT, NV). It looks like there will be very little chance of snow for either route but I'm concerned about icy road conditions along I-40 and I'm not sure if they salt the road enough. I've heard that they do a better job with I-70. I'd appreciate your suggestions on which route to take and where to stop for rests. I'd also like to get your opinion on whether it's advisable to drive during the night time hours given the low temperatures. If not, which city/town would be a good place to stop for the night. Thanks.

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

    Default its not the roads

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    My apologies if I sound a little harsh, but I do always roll my eyes a bit when we get people who plan to drive "straight through" for trips that are thousands of miles in distance, and then ask questions worrying about road conditions or driving at night. Its kind of like asking if a paper cut is dangerous while your arm is being cut off.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with driving at night by itself, the problem is driving tired. Driving at night only enhances that problem, because most people's bodies aren't adjusted to being fully alert in the middle of the night. If you are driving "straight through" there is no way that you or your wife will be getting enough rest to be in a proper condition to drive the 2000 miles that you'll be covering.

    Even at a pretty grueling pace of driving about 13 hours a day, you'll need 3 days to cover this distance. If you need to be faster than that, you really should fly.

    As far as a route goes, I-40 would be about my last choice, if for no other reason than it is the longest route and would take you on 2 lane highways for a good chunk of the trip. I'd actually think of taking I-80 all the way to Salt Lake City as the most likely to see the best weather conditions, but its hard to pass up I-70 because of the scenery.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Best route is 35/80/76/70/15/10. 1925 miles, HIGHLY recommend 2 nights on the road - North Platte, NE and Green River, UT are the mathematical 1/3 and 2/3 points. If you MUST do a speed run, at least stop for 1 night around Denver. That many miles straight through is unsafe, and I would NEVER do it with my family in the car.

    How to do a speed run

    Again, not recommended.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thanks for the quick replies. We are aware of the risks with driving straight through and that's why we d o not force ourselves to drive when we're really tired. What we do is we take a few "extended" stops. When we drove from MN to Naples, FL, we stopped for 2.5 hours somewhere near Chattanooga, TN, another 2 hours once we got past Atlanta and another hour once we crossed into FL. So it took us 36 hours for this drive instead of the 27 that mapquest said it would. I do appreciate the caution/tips offered but I guess I didn't make it clear that we intend to do the same "extended" stops in this trip as well. The only thing is, with temps being so low, it wouldn't be that comfortable. In our drive to FL, the temps were already at the 40s/50s by the time we got to TN. I don't think I'll be seeing decent temps until I get to UT or NM/AZ. Anyway, If we have to stop for 1 night, what would be a good place to do so? Is there a good place to stop between Vail and Grand Junction? Thanks again.

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

    Default

    Probably Glenwood Springs.

    However, I'd stop around Denver so you can do the climb over the Continental Divide in daylight.

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

    Default as has been stated

    I'm sorry, but 2 hour "extended stops" are not a substitute for real sleep. I think its really selfish that you are willing to put the lives of others on the road at risk because you want to push yourselves beyond safe limits. Professional drivers would not be allowed to drive anywhere near the distances that you are proposing, but unfortantely, amatuers aren't subject to the same rules.

    If you continue to move forward with this plan, Glenwood Springs would be a potential stop between Vail and Grand Junction.

    Colorado, New Mexico, Northern Arizona, and Utah are all at significant elevations, so its quite likely you will be seeing cold conditions, even at night, until you get to around Las Vegas (which can also see cold nights).

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