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  1. Default Driving from Portland, OR to Chicago, IL in winter conditions at the end of January

    I have to drive from Portland, OR to Chicago, IL during the last week of January. I have a 4WD SUV and will be pulling a UHaul trailer. I also do not have snow chains. I'm very worried to make this drive and would appreciate any advice on the safest route and what you have experienced if you have driven this route before in the winter. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default To start with.....

    Hello, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    .... you might like to check out this thread, which is the same trip, in reverse. You might also like to check out the most recent threads in the Fall and Winter forum, as there has been much discussion lately on this topic. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you will see 'similar threads', which could also be of help.

    Whereas I have not driven in winter conditions in North America, what I have learned from these forums is that 4WD may not be a benefit, and chains are definitely recommended. On the other hand, it is recommended that if chains are needed, it would be wise to stay at the motel until the roads are cleared, before heading off again. Especially with the extra load you have.

    I am sure one of the locals will be along soon to add more information.


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The first thing I'd tell you is that just because you are driving in winter does not mean that you will be driving in "winter conditions" such as snow/ice. There's been very little snow at all in these parts so far this winter, and while there is no way to say if that will continue, its entirely possible that the weather will be perfectly fine during your trip. Also, even when it does snow, the priority is to keep the interstates open so its rare for the roads to be in poor condition for more than a day.

    You've basically got 3 choices for routes. I-84 to I-80, I-84 to US-395 to I-90, or I-84 to US395 to I-90 to I-94. The I-90 based routes can be better because they are generally at a lower elevation, but the key is to watch the forecasts and pick your route accordingly.

    If you do see winter conditions, the key is to follow common sense more than technology. Pulling a trailer will basically cancel out any benefit you could get from 4 wheel drive and/or chains. Slow down, and if conditions are so bad that the plows can't keep up, then pull off and wait for things to improve. In good conditions, you can make this drive in 4 long days, but you should plan for at least 5 or 6 to give you a cushion in case the weather does not cooperate.

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