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  1. Default Seattle to Houston in January via I5 and I10E

    Hey guys,

    I'm planning to drive from Seattle, WA, to Houston, TX, in January 2016. I have a flexible schedule and budget, and will be traveling alone.

    Here's the route I've mapped out, day by day:

    Start: Seattle, WA
    • Day 1: Portland, OR (visit friend here)
    • Day 2: Medford, OR (visit parents here)
    • Day 3: Napa Valley, CA
    • Day 4: Pasadena, CA
    • Day 5-6: Phoenix, AZ
    • Day 7: Flagstaff, AZ (see Grand Canyon)
    • Day 8: Albuquerque, NM
    • Day 9: Amarillo, TX
    • Day 10-11: Dallas, TX (see the city)
    Finish: Houston, TX

    I am looking for thoughts/advice on:

    Driving conditions during this season
    Suggestions to improve the route - if it is too rushed or I should change cities, etc.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    Driving conditions during this season
    Gosh, it's only August, so predicting weather 5 months ahead of time would be difficult. I will say that the weather-guessers are predicting a wet winter for California (GOOD, we NEED it!). Via the route you chose, which is a good one (IMHO), the only weather problems you might see is a winter storm that might close Siskiyou Pass in southern Oregon. That said, the highway departments are likely to only close the pass for as long as they "need" to, as I-5 is a major trucking route and "our supplies must get through". You have a day or two where you could drive a hair longer to make up for any time lost waiting out a storm, which of course is what you should do.

    When overnighting in a city with the intent of leaving the next day, always position yourself on the far side of the city to avoid driving into Rush Hour when you depart. IOW, the eastern side of ABQ, and the southern end of Dallas, etc. BTW, in the Pasadena area there are many, many hotels, some of them not actually in Pasadena. So if you don't find one in your budget in Pasadena, try Glendale, Burbank, or West Hollywood (I'd not stay in North Hollywood because some are located in rather seedy areas). In Phoenix, you could stay on the north end in Anthem or Deer Valley. BTW, it's about a 4-5 hour drive up to Grand Canyon from Phoenix. If the weather is "right", you might enjoy getting there via Sedona.


    Donna

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Welcome to RTA!



    Gosh, it's only August, so predicting weather 5 months ahead of time would be difficult. I will say that the weather-guessers are predicting a wet winter for California (GOOD, we NEED it!). Via the route you chose, which is a good one (IMHO), the only weather problems you might see is a winter storm that might close Siskiyou Pass in southern Oregon. That said, the highway departments are likely to only close the pass for as long as they "need" to, as I-5 is a major trucking route and "our supplies must get through". You have a day or two where you could drive a hair longer to make up for any time lost waiting out a storm, which of course is what you should do.

    When overnighting in a city with the intent of leaving the next day, always position yourself on the far side of the city to avoid driving into Rush Hour when you depart. IOW, the eastern side of ABQ, and the southern end of Dallas, etc. BTW, in the Pasadena area there are many, many hotels, some of them not actually in Pasadena. So if you don't find one in your budget in Pasadena, try Glendale, Burbank, or West Hollywood (I'd not stay in North Hollywood because some are located in rather seedy areas). In Phoenix, you could stay on the north end in Anthem or Deer Valley. BTW, it's about a 4-5 hour drive up to Grand Canyon from Phoenix. If the weather is "right", you might enjoy getting there via Sedona.


    Donna
    Thanks for the advice, Donna. I planned to stay a couple days in Phoenix and then go to Flagstaff for a day, where I'd be better positioned for a quick trip to the Grand Canyon -- looks like it's about a 1.5 hour drive each way from Flagstaff. I chose this route because I thought it'd be less risky than crossing the Rockies in January. I'll keep your tips in mind -- thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Rockies vs I-40 mountains risk in winter -- well, I'd probably choose the way you did, too. But bear in mind, Flagstaff is at 7000 ft elevation and it can and does get snow. So does both I-40 and I-17. I've been on both of them in early February and had to drive in snow. Grand Canyon is also around 6500 ft (I think).

    At almost 150 miles, Phoenix to Flagstaff is more like a 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive, depending on traffic and weather. Then it's an hour and a half to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff. If this were my trip, I'd spend a day and a half in Phoenix, head to Flagstaff on the afternoon of the 2nd day, spend the 3rd day at the Grand Canyon, and be out to ABQ on the 4th day.

    Another idea -- if you're interested in the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest National Park is right along your way to Albuquerque, which is only about 400 miles from Flagstaff. You'd have time to take a couple of hours to see PFNP -- very interesting! The Painted Desert on the north end of the park is beautiful, too. In January, it wouldn't be overly crowded, too.


    Donna

  5. Default

    Very interesting - I hadn't considered Flagstaff's elevation. That's good to know as now I'll be able to dress for the weather....

    I like your suggestion about spending 1.5 days in Phoenix. It'll be my first time in the city and I'm not sure what there is to do there, so I thought an extra day would be good to have a look around. Both the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert look pretty awesome on Google Images. I'll definitely look into these spots as my planning progresses.

    Thanks a lot for your advice, Donna!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    The good thing about being flexible with time and budget is that you can 'wing it' without reservations and see how things turn out. If the weather turns nasty you could finish driving early for the day, or stay with friends/parents a little longer. You should have no problem finding lodgings at this time of year which is helpful when/if leaving things open to change.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Things to do in Phoenix - well, there are a number of different things, depending of course on how the weather holds up. First is the Heard Museum, American native culture in a lovely setting. Some folks enjoy driving out to East Valley to the Lost Dutchman State Park, a site of the mysterious gold stash that nobody can find yet. If you happen to be a musician, the Musical Instrument Museum is on the north side of the city - I haven't been there yet, but it's on my bucket list since a friend of mine raved over it.

    On your way north, you could stop to look at Montezuma Castle National Monument, though I will emphasize that this is something to do on your way north, rather than a day trip out of Phoenix or Flagstaff.

    Do you have paper maps? You might see a few other things along your route that might interest you, if you are looking at a paper map. You can only get so much (very little) information on these electronic mapping programs like Google or Mapquest.


    Donna

  8. #8

    Default

    Three places come to mind between Phoenix and Flagstaff. Montezuma's Castle, Sedona (nice red rock country) and Jerome, a little former mining town in the mountains, are all fairly close. Meteor Crater isn't too far away, either. You can't see all of them, but it gives you some options. Grand Canyon is the main attraction, though. Don't miss it!

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tostada View Post
    Hey guys,

    I'm planning to drive from Seattle, WA, to Houston, TX, in January 2016. I have a flexible schedule and budget, and will be traveling alone.

    Here's the route I've mapped out, day by day:

    Start: Seattle, WA
    • Day 1: Portland, OR (visit friend here)
    • Day 2: Medford, OR (visit parents here)
    • Day 3: Napa Valley, CA
    • Day 4: Pasadena, CA
    • Day 5-6: Phoenix, AZ
    • Day 7: Flagstaff, AZ (see Grand Canyon)
    • Day 8: Albuquerque, NM
    • Day 9: Amarillo, TX
    • Day 10-11: Dallas, TX (see the city)
    Finish: Houston, TX

    I am looking for thoughts/advice on:

    Driving conditions during this season
    Suggestions to improve the route - if it is too rushed or I should change cities, etc.

    Thanks!
    It sounds like a good portion of this trip will be done on I-40.

    When you're in Amarillo, you should go see Palo Duro Canyon. It's not well known to most people outside of the southern plains, but it's actually the second largest canyon system in the country. Lighthouse Rock is the gem of the park, and the trail takes around 2.5 hours roundtrip.

    I live in the DFW Metroplex, and I would suggest visiting Fort Worth over Dallas. Fort Worth is home to the Stockyards, and has some world-class art museums [see: Kimble Art Museum]. But Dallas too, is just down the highway. The 6th Floor museum and Perot Science museums are great, as well as some great areas around downtown like the Bishop Arts District and Lower Greenville. Daily tours of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington are also available.

    I grew up and have spent most of my life in Houston. Houston has way too many great things to do to list here, but feel free to message me with inquiries.

    Good luck!

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

    Default Thank you and welcome.

    Hi pforrest and welcome to RTA !

    Thanks for jumping in and offering your local knowledge on your first ever post, it's much appreciated. It's of much more use to other members searching for info when it's discussed and shared on the public forum, rather than through private messaging.

    Dave.

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