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  1. Default Spokane, WA to Charleston, SC Roadtrip At the end of JANUARY

    My friend and I will be traveling from Spokane, WA to Charleston, SC over 5 days at the end of January. I'm not sure the route I should take considering that it is in the dead of winter and I will be in a Truck without four-wheel drive, and will be hauling a 21 foot RV Toyhauler. I think it is smarter if I head south and then East so that I miss some of the northern mountain passes but was looking for suggestions so that I don't end up in a hairy situation. I do have chains for the tires, but I'm still nervous about driving through the mountains. PLEASE HELP :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Nope

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It is almost never a good idea to add miles in a probably vain attempt to find better weather. In your case, this is particularly true since (1) by heading south first, you'd simply be running basically through the Great Basin on the windward side of the Rockies, and (2) you simply don't have the time to be adding miles. As it is the shortest possible all-Interstate route would be I-90/I-94 to Chicago, I-65 to Indianapolis, I-74 to Cincinnati, I-75 to Knoxville, I-40/I-26 to Charleston. That is already over 2,700 miles or pretty close to the maximum you should be contemplating for a 5 day drive. Toss in the fact that you're driving a truck and pulling a trailer and I really don't see how you are going to get this done in that short a time frame. Either adding significant miles or severe weather will guarantee that you wont make it. The only one you have control over is the miles. So just stick with the shortest route and hope for the best. But seriously, I'd say that your chances of completing this trip safely in 5 days are in the 50/50 range.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default the brink

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It is not smarter to head south first, for a number of reasons - not the least of which is you can't go far enough south in the US to avoid the risk of storms. Going the most direct route means you'll be on the road for the least amount of time, which means the least risk of storms.

    Elevation is also more important than latitude in a case like this - and I-90 generally follows a lower path than I-80, I-70, or I-40.

    The other factor is that going the most direct route, you've just barely got enough time to make this trip. While pulling a trailer, you really shouldn't plan to drive much more than about 500 miles a day - which will put you on the road for about 10 hours a day (and yes, that is with 2 drivers). The most direct route (I-90 to Sioux Falls and then diagonal either through KC, St. Louis, Nashville, Knoxville or Davenport, Indianapolis, and Louisville) is still more than 2650. You can do it, but you'll need to see perfect conditions. If you do see a storm that forces you to slow down for any length of time, you'll really need to add a 6th day to your trip. Trying to press faster than that will lead to one of the hairy situations you're trying to avoid!

  4. Default

    Thank you so much for the advise. I don't have anything making me do the trip in 5 days so like you said in order to get here safe I may take an extra day or two if conditions and safety require it to. :)

  5. #5

    Default The extra time is your Ace in the Hole

    Hello lamp420,

    You're in good shape leaving from Spokane in that you've got exactly 4 passes or "high spots" along I-90 between your departure and Livingston, MT, where you lose the Rockies for good. The passes are Lookout, Homestake, and Bozeman, and there's a high section between Homestake and Bozeman which behaves rather like a pass. All of the passes are < 6,800' (Homestake) with the other 3 being between 4,600' (Lookout, at the ID-MT border) and 5,700 (Bozeman). The rest of I-90 in MT runs along river bottoms and ranges between 2,600' and 4,100'. Contrast that to one of the "more southern" routes, I-80, which holds elevations at or over 6,000' all the way across WY, including over 100 miles above 7,000', cresting at 8,640' between Laramie and Cheyenne!

    Take your chains, but primarily focus on the forecasts, and get yourself calmed by daily watching the real-time Montana DOT webcams in the passes and the lower points along I-90 as weather fronts pass through. You'll see the roadway cleared very quickly, making for a circumstance where you'd only have a problem if you drove into it blindly, as pulling over in the nice, fun cities of Missoula, Butte, or Bozeman and waiting it out for a day will avoid all but the most severe of accumulations.

    I'd also strongly consider remaining on I-90 to I-29 unless there was weather there which is not present on I-80 across NE, in which case I'd consider running on down I-25 from I-90 and catching I-80 at Cheyenne, if that didn't add too many miles AND avoided clearly present weather. The reason for that is avoiding Chicago, Indy, Cincy, and the Cumberland Plateau mountains between Lexington, KY and Knoxville, TN. In exchange you'd pick up KC, St Louis, and Nashville, each of which has a bypass (although St Louis' hardly seems like one--I-64 from Wentzville to the Mississippi bypasses the worst of old I-70 but still goes directly through downtown STL). That trade, as well as minimizing the miles in Illinois (low speed limits and sky-high fuel prices), is a good trade, one I'd definitely make. The KC/STL/Nashville route is also considerably flatter, something your tow truck will appreciate.

    Relax, this is entirely do-able.

    Last edited by Foy; 01-18-2011 at 01:39 PM.

  6. Default

    WOW THANK YOU SO MUCH FOY... Lot's of great info that will surely help for this drive.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Illinois recently got rid of the 55 mph towing speed limit. You can do 65 now.

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