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  1. Default December Road Trip from Sacramento to Seattle


    A group of friends and I are planning a road trip in mid December from Sacramento to Seattle. This is the rough itinerary:

    Day 1: Crater Lake National Park, OR
    Day 2: Portland, OR
    Day 3: Seattle, WA
    Day 4: One of the National parks near seattle (Olympic/Mt. Raineir/North Cascades)
    Day 5: More Seattle or a National Park
    Day 6/7: Making our way back home with short stops in between

    My main concern has to do with the weather conditions on the road. Given that most of us are from either Southern California or the Bay Area, none of us really know to expect when it comes to the winter weather of the American North West (sleet, hail, and snow). Are roads prone to closing this time and would we need snow chains for our tires? We would mostly be sticking with the I-5 for the trip.

    As for Crater Lake, I did some research and found out that many of the entrances and trails are closed during the season due to excessive snow. Is it worth it for us to go to the park during this time? We intended on a short day hike and have no problem walking through snow as long as there is a safe trail that allows us to see the lake. All we really want is a good view of the lake; we would be happy with that!

    My last worry has to do with El Nino. I know that this year it is expected to be more intense than usual and wanted to know how that would affect the usual weather patterns of the North West.

    This post ended up longer than I intended so thanks a bunch for any advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    There is always a possibility of snow and ice on I-5, especially over the Siskiyous, and you may be required to have chains or "traction tires".

    Highway 62 is maintained into Crater Lake to Rim Village, where you can get a good view of the lake without having to hike. However, it's always possible there could be a temporary closure.

    At Mount Rainier, the Nisqually entrance (Hwy 706) to Paradise is maintained, but of course can be subject to temporary closures. North Cascades is pretty much a no-go, Hwy 20 closes for the winter east of Newhalem.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Too early to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Waluigi View Post
    My main concern has to do with the weather conditions ...
    The weather will do what it does, and at this point there is no way of knowing what that is. By far the best thing you can do is stay tuned to the weather forecast. Be sure you keep a flexible itinerary, lest you should be delayed by a surprise storm.

    Make sure you study and carry good detailed maps (not just electronics), and study alternative routes should you need them. Keep your radio tuned to the road reports which most States broadcast on a regular basis.

    Have a great trip.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default 'Wait and see' approach.

    It might be better to leave things open to change and see what the weather does while travelling, you should get a good idea a few days before you travel. If the inland attractions are icy, or snowed in, you could consider taking a more direct approach to Seattle and then perhaps Olympic NP and the Oregon coast and it's State parks coming back, a case of wait and see.

  5. Default

    Thanks everyone! I'll make sure to keep track of the weather before the days leading up to before I leave and during the trip as well. I'll also leave some flexibility in our schedule in case the weather gets too nasty.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If it's snowing in the Siskiyous, the only reasonable alternate is going to be US-101, and there are very few ways between SF and Portland to get between I-5 and 101 without crossing the coastal range.

  7. Default

    Does the I-5 pass directly through the Siskiyous?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Yes, I-5 goes right over the Siskiyous Pass, at roughly 4,300 feet.

  9. Default

    Okay, I'll discuss alternative routes with my group. I'll post if we have more questions!

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