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  1. Default Will we need tyre chains in Mammoth??

    Hello everyone, another newbie from England here!

    I will try not to bore you with loads of questions that have been answered copioiusly in previous threads....

    All I wish to know is, if we are heading down the US-395 (from Reno) and intend to overnight in a hotel in Mammoth Lakes in APRIL, would we need tyre chaines when exiting the US-395 onto the 203 (Mammoth)?

    For added info, we will not be "exploring" Mammoth Lakes, we just thought it would a good place to stop for the night after several hours of driving (we will be departing from San Francisco around 8.30am) towards Sacramento on to Reno down the US-395 and stopping for the night at Mammoth Lakes (I learnt from these forums that cutting across Yosemite in April is not feasible due to road closures/weather etc). We will proceed onto Death Valley the following day (hoping to stay the night somewhere in Furnace Creek) and reach Vegas the following day.

    I have my trip more or less mapped out and a lot of the important tips re routes/road closures etc I found on this site - so thank you for all the valuable info and knowledageble advice. If you think stopping in Mammoth lakes is not a good idea (due to road conditions in April) would you advise if stopping in Bridgeport is preferable?

    Thanks again, and wishing everyone a good week ahead.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Short answer

    The short answer is that you should have them with you and know how to use them. In some places, the local authorities won't even let you move along on certain roads without tire chains during those times of year where inclement weather can threaten. April at 7900 feet above sea level certainly fits within that description.

    That's not to say that you will absolutely need them on the vehicle, but I'd be willing to wager you will at least need them in the vehicle.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default From the horse's mouth...

    This site pretty much says it all.

    Note esp the bit about not parking on town roads from November 1 thru April 30 in case they need to remove snow.

    You could get lucky, or you could find yourself on 395 without the ability to get to your motel.

    If you don't want to buy chains you may never use, you may want to consider Bridgeport or Bishop; depending on whether you want to shorten or lengthen that driving day.

    My preference would be Bishop; larger and more options (plus the Mountain Light Gallery for Galen Rowell fans and also Schat's Bakery).

    Another thought, after reading your starting point....

    SF to Reno to Bishop is too long for a day's drive (425 miles or so). If you want to make Bishop, I would take US50 from Sacramento over Echo Summit through South Lake Tahoe, connecting to 395 someplace south of Carson City (near Gardnerville).

    Even that will be a long day (360+ miles), so maybe Bridgeport is a better bet. The US50-SLT-Gardnerville routing is around 275 miles, and considering some of it is mountain driving would make for a full day.
    Last edited by CalOldBlue; 10-11-2009 at 04:36 PM. Reason: rethinking routing

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you would like a more scenic route to get to US-395 from SF without going all the way to Reno on I-80, check to see if CA-88 (Carson Pass) is open over the Sierras. This route is maintained all year, unlike Tioga Pass, Sonora Pass, and Ebbetts Pass. Another option is US-50 to Lake Tahoe.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Good point

    I decided not to mention Carson pass as it's a two-laner (I think, at least in parts), at 8650' is higher than either Donner (I80: 7085') or Echo Summit (US50: 7377') and doesn't get as much love from Caltrans as I80 and US50 do... it MAY therefore take longer to clear from a storm than I80 or US50.

    That said it IS very scenic, is certainly an option, and would be a shorter drive.

    If you're not used to driving in mountains and/or slushy conditions I'd still recommend Echo Summit (US50), unless we've had a nice dry spell.

    In April, chances are it should be fine (although as a Californio we'd really like a little more water this coming year than we got the past three).

  6. Default

    Thanks so much for all the tips folks! I am glad you advised me about Mammoth. Sometimes its difficult to know what to expect but now we will look into overnighting in Bridgeport instead.

    Bishop may be a bit over-ambitious by the sounds of it, but if we do happen to be making good time we might push on till there. We'd be doing this trip on a Sunday so hopefully the roads would be more quiet.

    A friend at work who goes to ski resorts regularly in Europe and Canada has mentioned that there is some new alternative to snow chains called "snow skirts". Has anyone heard of them, and if so are they any good?

    To be honest I'd rather we didn't have to mess around with chains and venture onto roads conditions we not accustomed to. However just to be on the safe side we might just get a set of chains from a Wal-Mart, keep the receipt and if we don't use them we can always return them to another Wal-Mart in Vegas. Better safe then sorry!

    Thanks again and keep up the good work. If I have any other questions I know who to ask now :-)

    Happy travels!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Unfortunately, I don't believe that chains are a returnable item - for that very reason. A Google search doesn't tell me what "snow skirts" may be, but I doubt that they would be approved by the state of California as traction assist devices when chain controls are in effect.

    I'd do one of 2 things - buy a set of cable chains at Walmart (with the idea of eating the 50 bucks) and practice taking them on and off - and that is assuming the car rental company will even allow you to use them - or if you encounter conditions that require them, find a detour or wait it out somewhere.

  8. Default

    Thanks glc... we'll have to keep our fingers crossed and hope the weather is favorable for us! Otherwise, we'll just have to pull up at the first safe stop and wait it out.

    If anyone can recommend a good hotel/motel in Bridgeport for around $100 a night then I'd welcome any advice.

    Thanks and regards.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The only hotel in Bridgeport that's listed on is the Ruby Inn - and rooms are in the $120 range. It's a 2 star hotel, formerly a Best Western, with good reviews. My mapping software (albeit 3 years old) shows a few more hotels in town. This site confirms that.

  10. Default

    wow what a co-incidence glc!! I was looking on Trip Advisor and did come across the Ruby Inn, it looked like the best bet. And then I read your post! Will try different hotel booking sites, and find the best deal lol.

    Thanks again, take care.

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