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  1. #1

    Default austin to taos winter drive

    Hello All, I searched in the various forums, but could not get what I wanted so posting this thread.

    We are driving to Taos in the next couple of weeks with 4 kids (2x4yrs, 2x8ys). Planning to go without any overnight stopover as we have two drivers minimum. So need some advice on route and I've several questions. Couple of routes:

    Route A: Austin->Lubbock->Las Vegas->Taos (US 84/518) = 700 miles ~12 hrs = ~60mph (shortest and scenic)
    Route B: Austin->El Paso-> Taos (I-10 and 1-25) = 975 miles ~14 hrs = ~70mph

    1. White route is best safety wise and road conditions?
    2. On Route A, how treacherous is from Las Vegas to Taos on 518 in the night considering winter drive?
    3. Why Route A has only 60mph average. Many towns to slowdown? or single lane roads?
    4. How are food the options on Route A? Should we packup food or do we have enough options along the way (especially after Lubbock)? For emergency we do packup, but I'm asking for proper lunch and dinner.
    5. What are good/safe places along the way again on Route A for rest/restroom breaks?
    6. By taking 3 to 4 hours of breaks on Route A (lunch/dinner/rest/stretch breaks), do you think 14hrs (do people do more than 60mph average speed?) is reasonable or 16 hours?
    7. Will the total drive time be same even on Route B as we are driving interstate highways? We will miss scenic drive from Las Vegas to Tao, but we can try to take this route while going from Taos to Santa Fe (doubles the distance, but if its worth it then we can do it -- we are thinking of doing Turquoise Trail and Cloudcrof drive too so not sure whether we have to 84 and 518 drive).

    Appreciate your recommendations and any suggestions.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Not with the young ones.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The major flaw in your plan is that you can not expect to average 60 or 70 mph from door to door. You will need to stop for gas, food, potty breaks and to let the children run of some steam. The biggest safety issue is trying to do this in one day with a car full of young children who will become tired, restless and miserable which in turn could become a distraction for an already weary driver. I would strongly recommend you take an overnight stop, you can't put a price on safety.

    The weather is totally unpredictble right now and the only time you will know the risks is when you have up to date info. Even more reason to have a 2 day plan as poor weather can slow you down, or put a stop to your journey for a while. There is no way can you drive almost a thousand miles in a day and to add 275 miles of driving to your route is counter productive, it's more like 4.5 hours added to driving time and would mean 17 hours plus at the wheel.

    To make it a more enjoyable and most importantly, a safe journey, plan an overnight stop. It would be tough for 2 adults to achieve and beyond what proffesional drivers are permitted to do by law, although possible as a single journey. With the young ones to think about please take an overnight stop, I would think the 'shorter route' will end up taking 14 hours to achieve without poor weather.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I have to completely agree with Dave your travel time estimates are beyond fantasy, and an overnight stop is something you really need to consider.

    Remember overall average speed include every stop and slowdown you have for everything from food to fuel to traffic to red lights. If your average cruising speed on a freeway is 70-80 mph, typically you can only average, at best, about 60 mph overall. A route that includes lots of 2 lane highways is likely going to see an average overall speed of 50 or under.

    Those averages are "best case" assuming perfect weather, and treating it like a speed run with minimal stops. Having 4 kids alone will mean you'll need more stops and that each stop will take additional time.

    Compounding your problems is that the most scenic, but most mountainous - and thus roads that require the most concentration and have the highest possibility of snow or ice come at the very end of your trip. While the roads themselves are perfectly safe at night, they are not going to be safe if you have already been in the car for more than 14 hours.

    Your all interstate route via El Paso would almost certainly take you 20-22 hours, which is going to be miserable for everyone on board, and is likely going to have everyone tired and cranky for even several days after you arrive in NM. For comparison sake, I did a 900 mile drive a couple years ago, and that took more than 18 hours, with only had stops for fuel and one sit down meal. I only did it because of a family emergency, and I assure you, I would not have been in any position to enjoy a vacation the next day.

    I think the only real option that makes sense for a safe and enjoyable trip in your case is to take the more direct route, up through Lubbock, and plan to spend the night either in Las Vegas or Santa Fe. That already is pushing the limits beyond what we generally recommend for a single day on the road (Santa Rosa, NM would really be a full day on the road already), especially with several small children. Again, that's the maximum assuming good weather, and if you do see bad weather, you may need to stop even shorter. That's really the best advice we can give, and will set you up to be rested for the drive up into the mountains - which you'd then actually be able to enjoy in daylight.

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

    Default

    In the winter I would take the all-Interstate route with an overnight stop - either in Van Horn, El Paso, or Las Cruces.

    Take the time mapping programs estimate and add 20%. You should limit your daily drive to 600 miles on Interstates and 500 miles on non-Interstates.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    The more I look at it, the more going via El Paso doesn't make any sense at all, unless there is a storm bearing down on the Texas Panhandle/Northern New Mexico.

    For an all-freeway route, going up through Fort Worth and then using US-287 to Amarillo (not quite interstate quality, but still mostly 4 lanes and a heavily traveled route) would be a good 150 miles shorter than going via El Paso. That's still much farther than you should try to do in a day, but I'll look at that long before I'd look at using I-10.

  6. #6

    Default

    Thank You all for your suggestions. I will discuss with my friend and will try to take a stopover. We were trying to save $300 (rental and hotel), but seems not worth it. My wife was also bit concerned so mostly we will stopover.

    I did not think of Fort Worth->Amarillo route. Will consider that route too.

    If we stopover (may in Lubbock), i-84 and 518 route is best, right? Scenic and all.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default The right choice.

    I think you could do a lot better than $300 for a room for the night plus an extra days car rental fee, but it's the right choice no matter the cost. Even if you needed two rooms you should be able to find something decent $45-$60 per room. You can get an idea of cost by browsing deals on RTA to the right hand side of this page and comparing what towns offer what.

    I doubt you would have any trouble finding a room [or two] so you can see how the weather fairs and your day unfolds rather than booking in advance. Lubbock, Clovis and an outside chance of making it to Santa Rosa would all be options, but to be honest you would make it more relaxing by splitting it up with a stop around half way, ie Lubbock. Depending on the situation you find yourself in, [time/weather] you could even consider taking I25 from Lubbock to Amarillo making a full first day.

    Having said that, you might discover that day 1 is clear and day 2 has poor weather, or vice versa. So check your lodging options, make notes and jot down telephone numbers of those that suit your needs and see how you go, making the best use of any fine weather on offer ! [If any]

    Have a safe trip !

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks a lot Dave for all your suggestions.

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