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  1. Default Portland OR to Sioux Falls SD

    I'm moving from Portland, OR, to Sioux Falls, SD. Am planning on leaving next Monday the 18th. I do have some play with the time of the trip but am going for a job and would like to be there ASAP. Will be driving a 2014 Ford Focus hatchback. Getting new tires today (all-season with best snow/ice reviews I could find) and planning on getting oil changed/radiator up to below zero temps over the weekend. Getting a winter prep kit in the car (scraper, flashlight, blanket, etc) also. Am I forgetting anything prep-wise that anyone can see?

    I'm a midwest raised girl but haven't driven on snow/ice in six years or so years (having taken a small life vacation in Thailand and Oregon). I'm not above stopping to wait out the weather (I'm no "road warrior" when it comes to driving in iffy conditions, have seen too many blizzards and ice storms in my 50 yrs to take silly chances). I've got all the links to road and weather conditions and will be keeping up all that intel to current as the trips nears and progresses. I'm also allowing stops to overnight for minimum two nights.

    I'm debating taking I90 up and over straight through to Sioux Falls vs taking I80 over to Omaha and then up to Sioux Falls on I29. My big concern, again from being raised in the midwest with the straight, curveless, mostly hill-less roads, is driving through the mountains. Which route would you all recommend? I did a pass through Yellowstone in 2014 (coming Sioux Falls to Portland) and really white knuckled it on the roads there (at 25 mph, on dry roads, on sunny days) -- the curvy, edge of mountain driving just isn't my thing. I know the interstates will be different than say taking up through Jackson Hole (which I have driven dozen or so times in summer going So Dak to ID to visit family). Does anyone have advice on which route might be better next week, in mid-winter? Also, and advice on where to overnight on either route would be appreciated. I've actually driven from the mountains (Jackson Hole and Denver) to Sioux Falls many many times -- so once I it the plains, the comfort-zone of experience should (I hope) set in. My goal is to drive daylight hours know, unless I'm to Nebraska/South Dakota and so close to home I can taste it).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default You Already Are Well Prepared

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You already have taken pretty much all the precautions and made pretty much all the preparations you can for this trip. So, ultimately your decision comes down to which route will cause you the least problems and/or which will you enjoy more. Either route is essentially all Interstate except that the 'I-90 route' includes a bit of non-freeway, US-395 in eastern Washington between Kennewick and Ritzville. But that is through relatively low-lying flatlands as you traverse the Columbia River Basin and Palouse. To me, the big difference between your two proposed routes, that jumps out almost immediately, is that the 'I-80' route is 230 miles longer, requiring at least another half day on the road. Another half day where you will be subject to the vagaries of the weather, and another half day farther out from knowing what might be in store for you as weather forecasts get pretty iffy much more than a couple of days into the future. You say that you have some time and are willing to sit out any inclement weather (Excellent!) and what I'd suggest is that you do just that, keeping your extra time, and that extra half day, in hand should you need it. But of course all that is subject to change if the weather reports on the day before you leave indicate snow along I-90 and clear skies along I-80.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-15-2016 at 02:51 PM. Reason: Typos

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    US-395 is now near-freeway standard all the way from Pasco to Ritzville with a 70 mph speed limit and no traffic lights, so the only non-freeway is the short stretch of US-395 (about 5 miles) from I-82 through Kennewick. It's multi-lane divided with traffic lights, and a good place to stop for lunch and a tank of gas.

  4. #4

    Default Fairly flat, at least for Montana

    One of the pleasant little secrets of far northern US driving is that I-90, despite its hundreds and hundreds of miles within Montana, is hardly a "trip through the mountains". Yes, you'll see mountains from the Idaho border all the way to Billings, but to the greatest extent you'll be driving alongside the Clark Fork River and its tributaries, the upper Missouri River tributaries, or the Yellowstone River. Including Lookout Pass at the ID border, there are exactly 4 mountain passes along I-90 in Montana and only one of them (Homestake Pass just east of Butte-6,600') is over 5,700' elevation. The approaches and descents from all 4 passes are but a few miles in length on each side. Contrast that with I-80 crossing the Colorado Plateau within Wyoming and holding elevations of 6,000-7,500' with a pass at 8,640' over a roughly 350 mile stretch, from Evanston to Cheyenne. In the fairly odd event that Montana has a lot of snow from one event and Wyoming has little, sure, drop down to I-80. On average, however, I-90 is an easier drive, there are more towns and cities for your overnights, and the scenery is more pleasing.


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