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  1. Default Maryland to Oregon in Feb w/ kids and a trailer

    We're moving the family from the Baltimore area to the Oregon coast (Coos Bay area) this February (mid-month). We're shipping most of our belongings, but we'll be hauling a U-haul trailer with our most valuable stuff behind a dual-rear wheel Ford 350. Most maps indicate we should take I-80 across, but I'm concerned about the mountain/snow travel with the truck and trailer. (The truck does have 4-wheel drive and we'll be getting chains, too, I'm sure.) I-40 appears to be our other option...except...

    My husband has always wanted to see Ouray, Colorado and would like to take this trip as an opportunity to do so; unfortunately, when I inserted that waypoint on the map, it kicked us off I-40 back to I-80 at a point where I think we'd either just be entering the Rockies, or somewhere in the middle of them. The detour takes us from I-40 at Albuquerque, NM, through Ouray, CO and Salt Lake City, UT (which is where we'd join up with I-80).

    Basically, I'm looking for the safest route across the Rockies during February that could (possibly) take us through Ouray, CO.

    What conditions are we looking at, in February, if we travel
    I-40 from Maryland to Albuquerque, NM,
    Head north through Ouray, CO,
    Join up with I-80 at Salt Lake City, UT,
    Take I-80 to the Northwest part of Nevada (where it joins 95/140), and
    Take 140 and 97 through Oregon?

    Time isn't too much of a factor. We'll have 10 to 12 days to make the trip.

    Thanks, in advance, for any help/tips/advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The one factor you need to keep in mind more than any other is that in mid-February, luck is probably more important than route when it comes to winter weather. Every single route between Maryland and Oregon is going to involve mountains, and the chance of snow and ice (which of course will be a factor long before you get to the mountains). Going south doesn't significantly improve your odds of seeing good weather, and many times it can see worse weather than more northerly routes.

    I-40 certainly isn't generically better than I-80, as it sees plenty of mountains both across the rockies, and then up the coast to Oregon as well. In your case, it would be among my last choice of routes, because not only is the weather not significantly better, but it also adds 500 miles, which is another full day on the road. That's one more day where you could see bad weather, and one less day available if you need to wait for a storm to pass.

    The other reality is that if visiting Ouray is a goal, then avoiding mountains really becomes a pointless goal, as Ouray, with an elevation of 8,000 feet, is about as in the middle of the mountains as you can get!

    But saying all that, I'd say don't worry about it. You've got more than enough truck to pull anything you could put in any UHaul trailer even through the heart of the Rockies, and with 10+ days, you've got more than enough time to sit and wait if weather conditions make it too dangerous/stressful to continue. Chains are fine as a precaution, but if you're pulling a trailer, I'd recommend just getting off the road if conditions are anywhere near bad enough to need them.

    If you want to get to Ouray, I'd take I-70 across to Western Kansas/Colorado, and cut down to US-160 at Walsenburg Colorado and take that across to Durango, where you'd go north on the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray.

    From Ouray, I'd head up to Salt Lake via I-70 and US-6, and I'd probably continue north on I-84 into Idaho, and cut across Oregon on US-20. Although, I have only limited experience with roads in this area and someone may have a better suggestions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I kinda have to mildly disagree with Michael on his route recommendations. Taking 160 between Walsenburg and Durango goes over Wolf Creek Pass, and the road from Durango to Ouray can REALLY be nasty, it goes over at least 3 passes.

    You would probably be best off staying on I-70 to Grand Junction, then take US-50/US-550 to Ouray. Then retrace your steps back to I-70, take that to Green River, then US-191/US-6 to I-15 through SLC, then I-84 all the way to Portland. Take I-5 south to Eugene, then OR-126 over to the coast.

    To use I-70 from Baltimore and avoid tolls, take it to Hancock, then I-68/I-79 back to it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    Ouray is DEEP in the mountains and can even be snowblocked sometimes.
    I'm sure it's really pretty but you won't be leaving main roads around there except by snow machine or xc skis.
    Much better in summer.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO

    Default is excellent for checking real-time road conditions.

  6. Default

    I can only advise on the Oregon portion of your trip. Enterring from the south either I-5 or 140 is going to be snowy and or icy. Not something that cant be handled or shut down for. However if you much farther north and cut across into eastern Oregon the passes get very nasty in Feb. Going to Coos bay you are most likely going to want to come in from norther NV. up through Lakeview to Klamath Falls. From ther over to I-5 avoiding the Siskiyous. Or come across Crate lake/ Diamond lake which will be hwy 138. Beautiful snowy drive but very feasible. use for road conditions and cameras in Oregon and north western NV.

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