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  1. Default Wisconsin to Washington in March

    My family and I moving across the country from WI to WA in the beginning of March. We're trying to decide between driving with 2 little kids versus flying out. The plan for the drive would be to take I-80 (we have friends we wanted to visit in Nebraska). We are concerned for possible bad weather and road closures. I've heard the weather can get pretty bad in Wyoming. Also worried about when I got through the mountains in Idaho/OR. Any recommendations? Am I crazy to drive with 2 kids?
    We'd be open to driving on I94 or 90 route, but sounded like the way through Montana/Idaho may not be that great in March either.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Points to Consider

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    This is, of course, a matter of opinion, but I would think that one of the last things that you should be worried about in making your decision is what the weather might be. There's just know way of knowing in time to make a reasonable decision based on the actual weather you will experience on your drive. You might know the weather for parts of it a day or two before you would have to leave on the drive, but that's it. And there's no guarantee that your flights would be unaffected as well or instead. Would you rather spend a day of bad weather stuck in a airport, or waiting it out in a motel with an indoor pool and cable TV?

    Probably the major differences between the two modes of travel are time and adventure. Certainly flying would take less time, a day each way by the time you factor in getting to the airport, clearing security, waiting for departure, retrieving your luggage, picking up the rental, and driving to your final destination. Driving, by comparison would take a minimum of four days each way, plus any time you spend seeing some sights and/or waiting for bad weather to pass and to allow for the road crews to do their jobs. Call it ten days total travel time if you drive vs. two if you fly. That's a big difference.

    For adventure, seeing large chunks of the country that you might not otherwise, especially while the kids are still young enough to experience wonder, there is no comparison with a RoadTrip. Besides seeing your friends in Nebraska, you can also show the kids some of the sights along the old Oregon Trail, the Great Divide Basin, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Salt Lake, and maybe some of the Columbia River Gorge. If you use I-90 instead of I-80 for one of the legs you can include Lewis and Clark historic sites, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands. Unfortunately, Yellowstone would still be snowed in for the most part.

    So, while there are major differences and you face significant decision, weather is probably not going to be the deciding factor.


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


    Buck's advice is spot on, although I think he missed the part where this trip would be for a move, and presumably a one-way trip. His travel time estimates assume a round trip. If you're only going there, cut them in half, so you'll want 5 days available if you decide to drive (4 days for the drive, with one in the bank in case of bad weather.)

  4. Default

    I agree about the adventure part. I grew up on road trips, and I want to take the kids across the country. I find such things fun. My wife on the other hand, is concerned that we may get snowed in somewhere and may miss our moving van. Looks like, as long as we get there in 8 days, we'll be okay.
    I think we should have one day to spend at a friend's in Nebraska and another at a friend's in Colorado, 4 days for the drive, and one just in case - that's 7 days - hopefully plenty.
    Given the location of our friends along the way, we'll likely take I-80 then up I-84.
    Any information along the route would be greatly appreciated. I'm taking a 3 and 5 year old, so we'll most likely be stopping every 2 hours - hopefully there's plenty of McDonald Playhouses along the way...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    I just did the Coloroado to Seattle to Colorado run via I-90.
    The day we left Colorado I-80 was CLOSED. But the northern route I-90 was workable.
    I've done I-90 twice and I-80 once.
    I-90 is the better route.
    Every significant town has a McDonalds so that's only an issue if you can't last 2 hrs between them.

    Here's one trip report:

    I wrote another one last year that you can find with a search.
    (Didn't writeup the I-80 trip. Sorry. But I do recall driving I-84 across Oregon entirely in 4WD at 45 mph.....)

  6. Default

    We are heading to Lonview, which is just north of Portland. I may have to use I90 as an alternate if I80 gets closed, but I'm afraid I80 is the quickest route from Colorado.
    Initially, we wanted to go across I90 or 94 and see the Badlands, Rushmore, and Yellowstone. But we wanted to visit friends and hearing that Yellowstone was going to be snowed in for the most part, we decided on the I80 route.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    The only problem with I-80 is the potential for high winds across Wyoming. Couple this with freezing precip and you have a very dangerous or even closed road. Check conditions prior to passing Cheyenne, you may have to take I-25 to I-90. Best way to Portland from I-90 is US-395 to Kennewick to pick up I-84.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    I-84 from Ontario to Hermiston was packed ice 3 years ago.
    I-80 across Wyoming is closed sometimes for really rough conditions. (and even on nice weather days the road surface is pretty rough concrete from lots of traffic and bad weather)

    The run up the Columbia gorge is pretty in good weather but they also get ice in the winter.

    Wave to Kalama for me as you go by. My parents were raised there. One set of grandparents lived in Kalama, the other set in Longview.

  9. Default

    Yea, I80 across Wyoming is most concerning from what I hear.
    If we have some time, I may drive across I70 istead and stop by a ski resort or a hot springs.
    Any thoughts on tire chains for any part of the trip? Taking a front wheel drive minivan.

    noFanofCB - I'll wave to Kalama - we may end up living there too.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Chains are only for when roads are snow-covered, and you can't travel more than 30 mph when they are on.

    It is very rare when chains are needed for travel on Interstate Highways, and most of the time, if you'd need chains on a freeway, you're better off waiting for conditions to improve.

    However, if you're planning to get off the interstates and head towards the ski resorts, you might find the chains come in handy then.

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