From LA to NY in Jan
We are relocating from LA to NY and are driving across in a minivan (Honda Odessy - no trailer). We thought of this as a potential route given we haven't explored some places, but looking for advice, tips, words of caution / discouragement (?) given the weather conditions in January. We are thinking we could do the trip over about 2 weeks or so? Would we need to change to all weather tires along the way? Would you change anything?
Here's the potential route: LA --> Phoenix --> Grand Canyon --> Alburquerque --> Denver --> Rapid City / Mt. Rushmore --> Sioux Falls --> Madison --> Chicago --> Cleveland --> Pittsburgh / Harrisburgh / NY
Alternatively, we could go along I-40, then up to St Louis, and take it from there??
Thanks in advance for any advice.
In January, there is the potential for adverse weather and road conditions no matter which way you go. You may want to keep the trip totally open and flexible, and maintain a watch on the weather and road conditions - and make decisions on where to go on a daily basis.
If your van does not have "all-season" tires, I'd recommend you get a new set before you go. You don't need dedicated winter (snow) tires, but all-season highway radials would be a very good idea, and you will need them in NY if you are going to be living there. Look for a "M+S" or "M&S" on the sidewall.
Keep In Mind
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Any cross-country RoadTrip in winter is subject to possible weather problems and delays. But with two weeks for your trip, you should have plenty of time to sit out the worst of the weather and only get back on the road after the crews have done their usual thorough job of getting the roads clean and dry again. Since you are moving to New York you are going to need a good set of all-season tires at some point. So take a good look at the current state of yours and if they are close to needing replacement you might as well do so now. On the other hand, if you still have good tread life left, just do as I suggested and stay off the roads if they exceed your capabilities. Remember that your abilities and experience are far better tools for handling winter driving than 'winter' tires.
As far as a specific route goes, there really is no 'best' option. If going through Albuquerque and Rapid City takes you to some sights that you want to see, then by all means go that way. We might be able to offer additional possible things to see along that route if you let us know what it is about the places you've already decided you want to visit that appealed to you.
Thanks for the welcome and advice!
Since our tires will be due for a change soon, we might start off with them and then buy a new set of "all season" tires during our road trip. We don't have to rush to get there, so will watch the weather conditions at each leg, as recommended, and travel when conditions are more favorable.
Regarding route, we'll probably stick close to the one we mapped out then. We really haven't had a chance to explore much of the country at all so any key sites besides the obvious ones like Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, as well as any interesting, scenic, quant places (including good eats) along the way would be fun for us. So, very open to any/all suggestions. We think we might limit our driving time to 6-8 hours per day with some days in between for enjoying a particular area. Modest, reasonably priced, respectable, clean accommodations are what we are looking for. Nothing fancy.
Our hope is to enjoy the journey and adventure as much as the destination.
Personally, I wouldn't waste valuable roadtrip time in a tire shop if I could avoid it. There are enough chain shops to get tires that I'm sure you can find a reasonable place to get it done reasonably quickly, but it is one of those things where the shop could get backed up, or they might not have what you want in stock. Suddenly, your couple hour pit stop can turn into an ordeal that takes up much of your day. Even though you've got plenty of time for this trip, I'd much rather change the tires a couple hundred miles "early" that risk the potential aggravation when on the road - especially when you've got the stress involve in any move.
However, I would check to see what tires you have right now because the majority of tires sold are all-season - especially when you're talking about something like a minivan where you aren't typically looking for high-performance.
I'd recommend you get new tires before you leave - that way you have time to look for the best deal on exactly what you need. I would buy them from someplace that has nationwide warranty and service - I buy mine from Sam's Club but in SoCal there are a lot more Costcos. Discount Tire is also a good national option.
Sounds like we ought to get our tires here before we leave, so will follow the great advice. Thanks much!
Something to look for - Sam's and Costco have an optional "service package" which is well worth it - it includes new valve stems, mounting, lifetime balance/rotation, flat repair, and a road hazard warranty. Inquire about that anywhere else you may choose to buy the tires.
To make it more interesting, we are thinking of changing our trip as follows:
LA --> Flagstaff --> Grand Canyon --> Zion National Park (using route 89) --> Salt Lake City (using I-15) --> Yellowstone (using I-15 then taking route 89 from Bringham City) --> Mt Rushmore (Not sure what the best route is from Yellowstone to Mt Rushmore?). Any advice?
We also thought we could probably find accommodations along the way as we reached the area, without pre-booking since it doesn't seem like high season? We just want a nice, clean, respectable place to sleep, nothing fancy. We'll have 3G access to the internet on the road, so thought we could search for options along the way?
Anything anyone has to offer in terms of sites to see, places to stay / eat at would be great.
Yellowstone is essentially closed to wheeled vehicles in January. Not worth the detour.