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  1. Default Seattle to Denver in November?

    Hi all,

    My boyfriend and I will be relocating to Denver in November and we were looking for advice on the best route to take from Seattle.

    We will be hauling a 5' x 8' U-haul trailer and are looking to find the smoothest route (interstates) with the least amount of incline (although we know we will encounter some) as our car does not have a whole lot of guts!

    The fastest route Google Maps offers us is via the I-84 E & I-80 E, through Salt Lake City -- have any of you travelled this route or have any info on it? The other route we were considering is through Missoula, MT (as we have family there) and south through MT & WY. We are open to other routes that I haven't mentioned. Anyone know of any closures at this time of year for weather?

    Any advice, thoughts, or information would be most helpful. Thanks in advance.

    Cheers,
    Jasmine

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Going via Missoula is about 50 miles longer than via SLC, but I'd do it. I-80 across WY is notorious for high winds and if the weather gets bad you don't even want to be out there.

    Take I-90 to I-25 to Denver. Spend the first night with your family in Missoula (several days if you want) and then for your next overnight look at Sheridan or Buffalo.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the advice GLC. I was looking at that route and it looks like a nice cruise of Interstate driving. I was hopeful that we could check out SLC on the way, but not at the cost of getting stuck in a bad weather situation on the I-80 in WY. I've been reading a lot about how terrible that stretch is in winter... Do you think early November is high risk though? I know it's impossible to predict weather, but I am trying to work out if it is worth the gamble?

    Weather aside, do you know much about the route I-84E & I-80E in terms of elevation etc?

    Cheers :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I-80 across WY is over 7000 feet for a large portion of the length. The wind issue is a year-round thing, not just in the winter. Just getting out of SLC on I-80 is rough with a trailer - you have to climb Parley's Summit or go around via I-84 through the canyon. I-90 is a lot less extreme as far as grades and altitude goes.

    What do you have for a car? You may be over the max tow weight, even for a 5x8. Just the empty trailer is 900 pounds and most small cars have a 1000 pound limit.

  5. Default

    Thanks again!

    We have an Isuzu Rodeo and are ok to tow the 5x8 (we did it last year). It's more trying to avoid putting unneeded wear on our car (as it's been through a lot), plus it doesn't have a lot of power hauling up hills so it slows us down.

    Looks like the I-80 is something for us to avoid! Any highlights through WY you would recommend?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    I've driven Ft. Collins (50 mi north of Denver) to Seattle & back for Christmas the last 2 years. Once by I-80, the other by I-90.

    I-90 is slightly longer but is lower overall altitude on MUCH better condition roads.
    There are high points to cross but they are fewer than the route across Oregon.

    Interstate is the only way to go- they are first cleared and more frequently plowed and the I-90 route isn't so heavily travelled that you'll be doorhandle to doorhandle with fellow travelers trying not to spin if things are slick.

  7. Default

    Thanks noFanofCB. I think we have decided that the I-90 is the way to go--looks smoother, and research indicates that it will be a smoother drive.

    Do you think snow chains are required on this drive? We will be leaving WA on Nov 5th... I-90 to just south of Sheridan, WY, then south on the I-25 into Denver. This may sound silly, but if you do recommend snow chains, would the u-haul trailer need them?

    Do you have any other winterize-ing tips?

    Cheers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If the roads are bad enough to need chains, you should not be out there with a trailer. Find a hotel and wait it out.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    I agree with glc - if chains are required, you don't want to be out there with a trailer. Too much to go wrong.

    Other advice- be sure and have your anti-freeze protection checked. In Seattle it doesn't often get to +10F. Where you're going it can be -35F overnight. Cracking your engine block or radiator while you're in transit would really wreck the trip.

    Be sure you have a recent battery. Starting at -35F is challenging. (I swap out batteries ever 4 years just to be completely, totally sure.)

    Fill the washer fluid reservoir and carry more. Be sure your washer works and that your wiper blades are new. Good visibility while driving is important and conditions can be wildly variable from sunny skies to horizontal dry snow to horizontal sticky snow.

    I also carry spray-on liquid deicer (buy in auto parts store). Really help with clearing off the hard overnight frost from the windows.

    Carry snow brush. Carry ice scraper. When you clear your windows, clear the rest of the car too. Lights, roof etc.

    Carry jumper cables. Carry chains in case you are stuck someplace and need them to get to safety. Be sure and put them on at home to (1) ensure they fit (2) learn how to do it when conditions are really easy.

    Check under the hood when you get gas. Yes, even more than daily. You want to find the problems while you're near a town. Towns can be a long way apart on that route.

    Be sure you have good tires. Ideally near-new M&S rated tires would be best.

    Carry warm clothing and food and water for just in case you are stuck out there for awhile. You'll probably want to ditch the Tevas and wear real boots - preferably water resistant for walking around in some snow in the parking lots.

    It's winter. It can be beautiful. And it can be rough. Be glad you aren't doing this in a covered wagon!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    One more thought concerning weather.
    Since you are going from West to East, you have the ability to run most or all of the distance inside a bubble of good weather if you can choose within a 2 day window when to leave. Running in a bubble of bad weather because your schedule is forcibly constrained wouldn't be much fun.

    Watching how the fronts develop and move means you can time your trip so as to stay in good weather. We did that for both return trips. In one case we left a day early to surf the good weather.

    This website is one that helps you get a look at what the forecasters think will happen. They update it every 12 hours.
    Since I'm a recreational pilot and weather geek I try to get other forecasts from other sources for comparison. But this is a
    great one to rely on for just a single site.

    http://www.aviationweather.gov/adds/progs/

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