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  1. Default Help!! Boulder to Lincoln City Drive on 2/12

    I will be driving with my son this coming Friday 2/12/16 from Boulder to Lincoln City. We are not on a fixed schedule but have planned for the trip to take 3 days, (8 hrs first 2 days then 5/6 hrs the third day). There are 3 different routes that we have picked out depending on the weather. I am most curious to see what others say the best route would be for us, of course knowing the weather will depend on the final route. I do not want to take I-80 or I90 through Wyoming, so our plan is to take I70 to Salt Lake unless I70 gets a huge snow storm, and then we would probably just delay our trip. We will be driving his Suzuki SX4 AWD. We just put brand new all season tires on the car and had everything checked out by the dealer so we are good to go. However, we do not have chains for the car and not sure we need to get them? Here are our 3 picked out routes:

    Boulder to i70 to i15 Salt Lake, then I84 through Boise, Pendleton, Portland then to OR99 or OR18 to Lincoln City (22 hrs 1391 miles). Iím worried about driving the Columbia Gorge especially between La Grande and Pendleton.
    Boulder i70 to i15 Salt Lake, I80 to Winnemucca, then North on US95, OR-78 E, US-20 W, OR-22 W and OR-18 W to Lincoln City (23 hrs, 1453 miles)
    Boulder i70 to i15 to i80 to Sacramento, then i5 to OR22 to Lincoln city (30 hrs 1837 miles), this would be a last resort to avoid bad weather.

    Iím worried about driving the Columbia Gorge especially between La Grande and Pendleton, but also driving through the Cascades if we go through Bend. Which route would be best over the Cascades, I84 or US20. Which of these routes would you suggest, or do you have a better route to take? Any other recommendations on roads, what to look out for, places to stay, eat? TIA!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'll say this much, very few people would pick I-70 over the heart of the Colorado Rockies as their prefered route in winter. That doesn't mean it's a bad choice, but it does mean going at a much higher elevation than I-80 or I-90.

    If you do end up using I-70, I wouldn't go all the way over to I-15. You'll save almost 200 miles by cutting up US-6. If the weather would keep you from using US-6, then you probably don't want to be on I-70 anyway.

    I would pretty much eliminate the I-80 to Sacramento option from any consideration. You're adding 500 extra miles to a more direct route going that way, which is a full extra day on the road. Not to mention, you're adding a lot of mountain driving to your trip - both on I-80 and I-5. You'd really be better off just using that extra day to wait out a storm.

    I would be very reluctant to use your route through Winnemucca as well, as it would mean many, many miles on remote 2 lane roads that are going to be pretty low priority if you do see bad weather.

    I won't say the odds of seeing good weather are better on the I-84 to Portland route, but the odds of having the roads quickly plowed are certainly going to be the best on that option.

    I also wouldn't rule out I-90 or even I-80 really. I-90 is prefered by many as a cross country route in winter because it stays at a much lower elevation than I-70 or I-80. I would certainly prefer I-90 to the 2nd or 3rd options that you laid out, as you'll be on Interstate quality roads for nearly the whole way, and it is much shorter than going via California.

    Having said all of that, the most important factor is something that you can't yet know, and that is the weather forecast. You can start looking at some long range forecasts, but you're going to have to wait until at least the middle of the week before you start seeing accurate weather forecasts - and that's really the only way you will know where weather problems might be.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    I would plan on taking the shortest all-Interstate route, which is I-80/I-84/I-5/OR-22/OR-18. Only look at alternates if the weather forecast and road conditions are bad. I don't see what your issue is with the Columbia Gorge?

    With AWD and all-season tires, you won't need chains. If the roads are that bad where they make everyone chain up, you don't belong out there, go find a hotel.

    If you insist on taking I-70, take US-191/US-6 to get to SLC.

    Don't rule out I-90, it actually crosses the Rockies at a lower elevation than I-80 or I-70.

  4. Default

    Thanks Michael for all your input! Yes, sorry I was wrong, google does have me going US6, (I70 to US-191 N then to US-6 W and then get on I-15 N in Spanish Fork). Do you know what 191/6 is like, never been on that road. We are use to driving on I70 from Boulder to Glenwood Springs and as long as the weather is good and roads are clear I'd rather drive this even though it is through the mountains than going through Wyoming where the winds alone in all the open areas can make the roads especially snowy, icy and hazardous. I don't want to drive 90 all the way up through all of Wyoming into Montana and crossing over the topmost portion of Idaho, it just seems to me that there is more chance of bad weather and roads in worse shape the more north I go, maybe I'm wrong though.

  5. Default

    Hi GLC, thanks! The I25 to I80 route will take me up into and through Wyoming, and with the winds there I don't want to go that way. Almost every day when I look at maps there are always numerous accidents on I-80 through Wyoming compared to none on I70 to the border during the same time period. I've never been west of I70 at Grand Junction so all these roads will be new to me, and I've read horror stories on the internet of I84 from La Grande to Pendleton, especially this article: so after searching this area it kinda makes me nervous :(

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Altitude not latitude.

    Quote Originally Posted by aspen634 View Post
    it just seems to me that there is more chance of bad weather and roads in worse shape the more north I go, maybe I'm wrong though.
    It's not latitude which determines weather it is mostly altitude.

    Just as I-10 and I-40 can see bad winter storms, snow and ice at the higher elevations, so it is that I-90 at a lower elevation could be free from winter weather.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    It seems to me that you are really buying into hype and myth far more than reality.

    I-84 does have some difficult stretches, that are more challenging than a typical interstate. However, if you read the article you linked to yourself, you'll note they actually have more problems on that interstate in the summer than they do during the winter, and the reason is simple - nearly all of the problems are caused by drivers ignoring warning signs and going too fast for the conditions.

    It is true that I-80 can see high winds, and that can make for challenging driving conditions, but driving at 10,000 feet has it's own set of challenges. I assure you that for every problem you've found on I-80, I could find something similar on I-70.

    Finally, in regards to I-90, you've bitten hook, line, and sinker into the single biggest myth of winter travel. Despite what you're thinking, North does not make for a more dangerous or more snowy drive, and saying south does very little to improve your chances of good weather. Again, there are many, many times where I-90 is a much better winter route than I-80, I-70, or even I-40, especially because it stays at a lower elevation than all 3 of those other cross country routes.

    And again, the most important factor of all is the actual weather forecast. As you noted, you're comfortable with I-70 if roads are clear and dry. If roads are clear and dry - then you've got nothing to worry about on any of the routes you could take. The question really comes down to which roads will be clear and dry, and you'll have to wait a few days yet to figure out which roads those will be. The point is that if I-90 is forecast to be clear and dry, while there is a storm moving through I-70, I-80, or I-84 then it would be silly to dismiss I-90 because it is farther north. Similarly, if I-84 looks clear, then there is no reason to add a few extra miles to go up to I-90. It's the actual forecasts, and not fears based on what you think has happened in the past that should be guiding your decision.

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


    Ya'll are going the wrong way!

    Lincoln City is in Indiana! (At least one of them is and it wasn't specified)

    I-90 is better than I-80 for going to Seattle but looks to be 200 mi further out of the way for Lincoln City OREGON.

    Here's a trip report containing some conditions encountered on I-84 one Christmas:

    Not much to be done about routing once committed and the ice has come down......

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