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  1. Default Minneapolis, MN to Sacramento/Elk Grove CA

    Hello and thank you for this forum! I will be traveling from Mpls, MN to Elk Grove, CA for a dog show in late May and am wondering what the drive is like primarily between Utah/Nev and Reno/Sacramento through the mountains. Have driven all over the Midwest, East Coast and Southern US (Smoky Mountains), but never out West. Not sure what to expect roadwise in the mountains or what I should plan to try and see along the way. I have driven in a lot of snow, but never snow in the mountains. I'm thinking of a day trip to SanFrancisco as well, any places that you know of that a dog can come along? Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by DebLef27; 02-25-2016 at 12:00 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Desolate Beauty

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The roads between say Rapid City and Reno traverse some of the least populated areas of the United States. In southern Wyoming you'll be crossing the Great Divide Basin and then the Wasatch Mountains into Salt Lake City (the only large metropolitan area on this long stretch). Then from SLC west to Reno you'll be in the Basin and Range province. Mostly you'll be on Interstates with good alignment and grades limited to no more than 6%. Interstates also get first priority for snow removal, so that's another plus.

    What I really like about this drive though, is the beauty of it. While technically not 'Big Sky' country, this portion of your drive is going to be through some wide open spaces with magnificent vistas, especially east of SLC. West of SLC, you will be driving through what is essentially desert until you get to Reno. I love places similar to this that have what I call 'magnificent desolation'. However, don't get the wrong idea. While there will be a whole lot of nothing (besides great scenery) on much of this mountain to desert segment of your trip, you will not be devoid of company or motorists' services. The Interstates are all well traveled, with cell towers for staying in contact, and mostly well spaced gas stations/restaurants/motels. There are stretches in Nevada where such amenities may not be available for 60+ miles, but these are well marked, and if you plan ahead to stop and resupply in the larger towns along the route (SLC, Elko, Winnemucca, Reno) you should have no problems.

    You're looking at needing about three and a half days at least to get from Minneapolis to Elk Grove, so if you plan on taking four full days, you'll have plenty of time to take short breaks each day for some fresh air and exercise. Local and state parks also tend to be more pet friendly than the larger national parks. I would also be ready to spend another day on the drive just in case you run into weather that you are uncomfortable driving in. In that case, just get yourself to a motel and relax inside until after the weather has blown over and the road crews have done their jobs.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I doubt you will see any snow issues on I-80 around the end of May. Are you planning on taking I-35 to I-80?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Scenic respites off the interstates.

    For some spectacular scenery, there are some short scenic detours off I-80. When I say short, I mean short in distance, not necessarily in time. You'll end up spending time to enjoy the views and the short hikes to the attractions they afford.

    One that comes immediately to mind is through the Medicine Bow National Forest from Laramie to Walcott via Saratoga. By May you should see the first of the wildflowers coming out at the summit, along the path to the lookout tower. There's a very helpful ranger station at the eastern end of the scenic byway. They should be able to tell you about your dog. There are free hot springs in Saratoga

    Check your maps (AAA/Rand McNally), and the State issued maps available at visitor/welcome centres for more. It pays to have all of those as sometimes something which is on one map, may not be on the others.

    That is how I have found many scenic respites off the interstates.


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