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  1. Default Dayton, OH to Seattle, WA

    Am relocating to Seattle in February. Thinking about driving out and pulling a trailer behind my car. Will probably take four days, so won't have much time for sight seeing. But am worried about the weather. Is this doable during February? Any recommendations for route?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Hard Work

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Let's not beat around the bush here. What you are describing is 4 days of solid hard work, and you can only pull it off if you are willing to put in long days, take the most direct route (and ONLY the most direct route), and only if the weather cooperates. You are talking about 2350 miles, which means that even if you use 'all' 4 days, you will need to cover nearly 600 miles a day. Now under normal circumstances that would be a pretty hefty day. While pulling a trailer and crossing the Rockies and Cascades, that is brutal. If you run into any untoward weather, you will simply not be able to continue safely in a rig you are not used to, and you will have to pull up until the weather abates and the roads are cleared. So my first recommendation is my strongest: Find a fifth day to use in making this trip. As to the route, you would be best served by sticking as nearly as possible to the shortest Interstate route and that is essentially I-90. I would make one exception since you are starting from Dayton. I would try to avoid Chicago if possible. That would mean I-70 west to Indianapolis, I-74 to the Quad Cities (Davenport, IA), I-80 to Iowa City, I-380 to Waterloo and US-218/US-18 to I-35 north to finally join I-90 at Alert Lea, MN. But really, try to find more time!

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    I would make one exception since you are starting from Dayton. I would try to avoid Chicago if possible. That would mean I-70 west to Indianapolis, I-74 to the Quad Cities (Davenport, IA), I-80 to Iowa City, I-380 to Waterloo and US-218/US-18 to I-35 north to finally join I-90 at Alert Lea, MN.
    I'd make a slight adjustment to that - I'm not a big fan of the US-218 "shortcut" especially when you're talking about pulling a trailer. If it were me, I'd just take I-80 all the way across Iowa and then use I-680/I-29 to join I-90 at Sioux Falls. It adds about 10 miles, but it keeps you on freeway the entire way.

    But in any case, I very much agree, you'll be pushing it at 4 days and any sort of setback will really mean it's a 5 day trip.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the feedback. We have up to six days in case we hit weather, but would really like to do it in 4 if we can. Thanks for the alternate route. It's our first time pulling a trailer, so I definitely appreciate the route advice.

  5. #5

    Default Looking ahead at the weather

    Hello mayasway,

    While bad weather is possible at any point along your trip, and along any route, you'd be wise to make yourselves aware of where the higher-elevation points along your route are.

    You've got 5 passes to clear, but the good news is that each of them has a fairly short run-up and departure as you go west. From east to west they are: Bozeman, unnamed pass west of US 287, Homestake Pass east of Butte, Lookout Pass at the MT-ID state line, and Snoqualmie Pass just east of Seattle. While it may seem this is a lot of passes, you're looking at 5 high points in something like 1,500-1,700 miles, and the remainder of I-90 is relatively low, certainly when compared to the 6,000 to 7,000' elevations common along I-80 in Wyoming, with a peak of just under 8,000' between Cheyenne and Laramie.

    Foy

  6. Default

    Foy, obviously we need to keep a watchful eye on the weather and adjust accordingly, but are you recommending I-90 instead of I-80?

    I probably should have mentioned that we are not particularly seasoned winter travellers, have lived our whole lives in southern Ohio areas. The possibility of severe weather has us concerned enough that we're considering forgoing the trailer and just taking what the car can hold.

    We have all season tires that are relatively news. Should we invest in tire chains before starting the trip, or can we purchase them along the way if the weather turns nasty?

    Thanks for all your help, this is a fabulous resource!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Yes, he is say that I-90 is often the better choice because it is at a lower elevation for most of the trip.

    You can purchase chains along the way should you need them, but really, it you lack experience in driving in winter conditions, and you get to the point where you'd need chains on the freeway, then you're better off waiting until conditions to improve to continue your travels.

  8. Default

    Thanks. I appreciate the clarification. And, we'll take your advice to pull off if it gets so bad that we need chains. Does the snow ever blow in so quickly that we could get caught without knowing it, or is it sufficient to check the forecast before getting on the road each morning?

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

    Default Trust but Verify

    It is sufficient to trust the National Weather Service's forecasts for the day. Most motel TVs get the Weather Channel, and that should be your primary source (unless you have a dedicated weather band radio) as you move across country. Then you are getting your interpretation of the NWS's forecasts from the same people and you will know that any change in prediction is a real change and not just a difference between two people reading the primary forecast differently. But, and this is a big but, if you hit the start of a storm before you expected, or if it's worse than you expected, do not press on because the forecast said it would be better. It's not, and you can't presume that reality will change to match the now hours old forecast. Conditions 'on the ground' should always dictate your actions. This is particularly important westbound because the weather will generally be eastbound and your closing speed on the worst of it will be significantly faster than normal.

    AZBuck

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