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  1. Default Vegas to Montana

    I am moving from Las Vegas to Bigfork Mt in a few days and was wondering if it's an easier drive to go through Utah and Salt Lake City or to drive north through Nevada and Idaho and bypass Utah all together? I am not looking for scenic or road attractions, just looking for the least hassle. I recall driving through Salt Lake City a few years ago was pretty hectic due to all the traffic and I will be driving a Uhaul with a car trailer Etc.
    Any help and/or thoughts on the drive would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,060

    Default Not much question on this one

    Welcome to the road trip planning forums! Driving on Interstate highways is (nearly) always going to be easier than driving on the two lane US highways found in Nevada and Idaho when driving a Uhaul and car trailer. There are dozens of passes on the route through Nevada and Idaho -- much less so on I-15.

    Plus, I-15 goes through very nice country.

    Salt Lake City is not really much of an issue WRT the traffic -- I've driven through there several times at rush hour -- It's a little larger an urban area than Las Vegas and therefore it can take a little more time -- but much less stop and go compared with the Spaghetti Bowl!

    Bigfork -- gorgeous place. A tad chilly in the winter though!

    Enjoy the drive.

  3. Default Thanks!

    Thanks so much, thank was exactly the info I was looking for! Much appreciated.



    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Welcome to the road trip planning forums! Driving on Interstate highways is (nearly) always going to be easier than driving on the two lane US highways found in Nevada and Idaho when driving a Uhaul and car trailer. There are dozens of passes on the route through Nevada and Idaho -- much less so on I-15.

    Plus, I-15 goes through very nice country.

    Salt Lake City is not really much of an issue WRT the traffic -- I've driven through there several times at rush hour -- It's a little larger an urban area than Las Vegas and therefore it can take a little more time -- but much less stop and go compared with the Spaghetti Bowl!

    Bigfork -- gorgeous place. A tad chilly in the winter though!

    Enjoy the drive.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    Default

    Fully concur. US-93 through Nevada is very sparsely settled, services are few and far between, and cell coverage is not good.

    Take I-215 around the west side of SLC to avoid the downtown crunch.

  5. Default

    Thank you, I will do that!

  6. #6

    Default Bigfork--what a great spot!

    Year-round sunsets over Flathead Lake. Nice!

    I'm something of a contrarian around here in that I willingly take the road less traveled when missing out on traffic congestion is part of the deal. And a very large caveat is that I have never driven US 93 between Wells, NV and Vegas.

    But, my belief and understanding is that most of the US 93 route up to Wells is along the floor of the Great Basin at elevations of around 4,000'. What passes there are have fairly short approaches and descents, and are not, for example, 7,000' + passes such as Donner Pass.

    Having driven the whole of US 93 from Wells, NV to Bigfork, MT, I can say it's a delightful drive. Wells is at 5,600 and you'll reach a bit over 6,000' for some of the 62 miles to the ID line at Jackpot, but there you descend into the Snake River Plain and you won't see 5,000' again until Challis. Challis to Salmon is gently downhill all the way, following the Salmon River. The one serious pass is Lost Trail Pass at 7,014'. The ascent is around 8 miles and the uppermost 2-3 miles have slow-vehicle lanes. Descent into Conner and Darby, MT is shorter at maybe 5 miles. From Conner, you're on the Bitterroot River which you'll follow to the Clark Fork at Missoula and you won't see over 3,500' until north of Missoula where there is a low and easy pass at Ravalli, below which you'll drop gently into the huge valley with Flathead Lake at its north end.

    By contrast, along I-15 you've got some +5,000' stretches north of St George and more in the 5,000' range near the ID line. North of Idaho Falls, ID, you'll have a long climb to Monida Pass, a 6,820 summit, and you'll hold elevations of over 5,000' all the way to west of Deer Lodge, where running downstream in the Clark Fork River will bring you to Missoula.

    Traffic along I-15 is an issue for the whole of the 75 mile long Wasatch Front, with SLC at its center, and I would not disregard Pocatello and Idaho Falls, either.

    Without a doubt, US 93 is more remote, with services and even cellphone service sparse. From Wells to the north, however, the longest segment without towns is Wells to Jackpot, just over 60 miles, and a similar remote stretch leading in to Arco, ID. Small towns with services are spread out reasonably well after that.

    I've found the general character of US 93 to be level, wide, and not having lots of curvy stretches. Notable exceptions are curvy stretches along the Salmon River section between Ellis and Salmon, and the aforementioned ascent and descent from Lost Trail Pass at the ID-MT state line.

    It appears that the US 93 route is around 60 miles shorter, not a material factor for a 1,000+ mile trip. When towing, I do like more level highways, and I believe US 93 offers a generally flatter route. The remoteness doesn't bother me, personally, one bit.

    If you run I-15, you most definitely want the I-215 loop to the west, and do your best not to be headed north from the I-215/I-15 junction near Kaysville during afternoon rush hour, as it gets pretty crazy all the way up to Ogden.

    Safe travels!

    Foy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    Default Well, yes, I guess that's a better plan

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    It appears that the US 93 route is around 60 miles shorter, not a material factor for a 1,000+ mile trip. When towing, I do like more level highways, and I believe US 93 offers a generally flatter route.
    Foy, yes I would concede that your plan probably does make more sense. I've driven US-93 10+ times over the years and it is true that it tends to weave around the basin and range topography that makes Nevada famous. There are several short passes but nothing too dramatic -- but driving I-15 might still be an easier drive because of the nature of the road.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
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    Default

    If you do take US-93, you can cut off 40 miles by taking NV-318 and US-6 between Ash Springs and Ely. Note that there are NO services or cell coverage whatsoever along this 140 mile stretch. It's all good 2 lane road but very lightly traveled.

    With that said, driving a U-Haul and towing, I'd stick to I-15 and try to time the trip to hit SLC in off rush times.

  9. #9

    Default No worries here!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Foy, yes I would concede that your plan probably does make more sense. I've driven US-93 10+ times over the years and it is true that it tends to weave around the basin and range topography that makes Nevada famous. There are several short passes but nothing too dramatic -- but driving I-15 might still be an easier drive because of the nature of the road.

    Mark
    Absolutely, Mark, no intent to take issue with yours or anybody else's sage advice. Just offering a different perspective. It's all good in my view.

    Foy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    10,749

    Default

    How much time are you planning on taking ? It would be 2 hard days towing with a UHaul or 3 more comfortable days. If I were to do it over 3 days I would be very tempted to take US93 as it's not a hassle and can be pleasing on the eye. And the section from Vegas to Wells mentioned by Foy is pretty easy going, so I am with him on this one but you should go with your gut instinct

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