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  1. Default January Road Trip - SD - Vegas - Yellowstone - Mt Rushmore - Chicago - NY


    My fiancee and I are looking at spending our honeymoon driving cross country in winter 2012. At this stage it's looking like January for 3 weeks.

    We have both done road trips across the USA in summer on separate occasions and would love to see the country in winter. In particular we are really interested in seeing Yellowstone and doing some winter tours there.

    We would like to include Chicago and NYC as the last stop.

    We're wondering how feasible a trip like this might be? Is it really unsafe to be driving through South Dakota/Iowa/Illinois at this time of the year?

    We are from Australia and have both had some experience driving in snow but are not that experienced.

    Any guidance would be appreciated.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    It's not so much a case of it being 'safe' or not, [with common sense] as Locals need main routes open to run their daily lives, but the weather will cause restrictions and possibly disruptions to your trip. As you may know, Yellowstone is pretty much closed at this time of year to anything but Snowmobiles or ski's, is extremely cold and sees frequent winter storms. You can find lots of info on the Yellowstone NP site.

    Interstate is a priority to keep open and the country moving, but in the event of a winter storm it is best just to pull of the road for a few hours ,or a night, while it passes through and the road crews do their job. Of course nowhere is immune from winter storms in January, it's just part and parcel of travelling at that time of year. One good thing is that there aren't any better equipped crews to deal with it than along the more Northerly routes, they are used to it.

  3. #3

    Default Been there, done that

    Hello reecee80,

    Props to you and your fiance for taking on a challenge. I suspect you'll find this quite enjoyable.

    I just completed an out-and-back from from North Carolina to Park City, Utah in the late December-mid-January time frame, just 4 months ago. The weather was absolutely brutal on the way out and was only slightly less so on the return trip. We experienced subzero (F!) cold, sleet, freezing rain, snow, headwinds and crosswinds of 50 mph, and a memorable segment where we were in whiteout conditions for a few seconds at a time, which is particularly disconcerting when you're running along in the midst of a line of tractor-trailers at 45-50 mph and all of the sudden you can't see anything.

    Our trip was in a 4WD pickup truck but any automobile, particularly a front-wheel drive, would have done just fine. Be aware of the various Western state's "Chain Law" which requires chains to be deployed on certain highways at certain declared times (generally during the height of major storms). Also be aware that I-80 from Cheyenne, WY nearly to Rawlins is about as severe as it gets, as most of that interval is at over 7,000' elevation with a summit of 8,640' between Cheyenne and Laramie.

    The reality of the whole matter is that the Mountain West deploys state-of-the art snow removal equipment operated by legions of highly skilled individuals. Sections of highway, even Interstates, do get closed from time to time, but those closures are normally localized (certain passes) and are normally of a few hours' duration. If you've got some flexibility in your plans, all you'll need to do is pull over at a truck stop, have some coffee and a piece of pie, perhaps a short nap, and you're good to go after the Pros From Dover do their thing.

    By keeping food and water in the vehicle, keeping your fuel level close to full, as well as keeping your winter wear clothing within reach, perhaps augmented by a < zero degree-rated sleeping bag you can both fit in to in a pinch, and perhaps a CB radio, and you'll be well prepared for contingencies. Chances are you won't need any of the above, but if you do, you'll need it badly and will be oh so happy you have it on board.

    I say go for it!


  4. Default

    One thing IS certain. We Americans love our Australian friends and allies. If you need help, you just ask, we will extend a friendly hand to you. Have a great trip!

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