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  1. Default Detroit to Santa Monica in January

    First time on a forum so please be patient.we plan on driving to LA the first week of January to see family and then on to Florida from there. My question is what would be the safest route regarding weather.we are actually in Canada so we are used to winter driving but for a long drive I just don't fancy driving in the snow for long stretches .any thoughts .thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default As Always: The Shortest Possible Interstate

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The US Interstate Highway System is built to standards that limit the slope of any hill climbs/descents as well as restricting the degree of curvature. Both of those factors (and the fact that they are multi-lane roads) make them by far the safest roads in any inclement weather. Add to that the fact that they get the first and best attention from plowing/sanding/salting road crews and you can see why you should stick to them.

    The other major consideration, once you've decided that you're going to stick to the Interstates, is to make your route as short as possible. You will sometimes hear people claim that, or ask if, they should 'go south' to avoid winter weather. The problem with that is that even the southernmost transcontinental Interstate (I-10) can and does see winter weather including snow and ice, and southern states are less equipped to handle any weather they do get. The way to avoid bad weather is not by missing it in space, but in time. Instead of trying to guess where it will occur and plot a route based on that guess, just plot a short route that will give you two advantages: 1) You'll be on the road for less time overall, thus reducing your chances of hitting bad weather, and 2) It will leave you time to just get off the road and hole up in a warm motel room while any storm rages and then let the road crews do their job before you then venture back onto the (now cleared) roads.

    To that end, your best route is just basically I-94 to the Chicago area, I-80 to western Nebraska, I-76 to Denver, I-70 into Utah, and I-15 down to the Los Angeles basin. Obviously there will also be some connecting routes and bypasses/beltways around some of the larger cities, but that's the route you should be looking at. Plan on at least four days if the weather is perfect, but leave a fifth day in case it isn't.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 10-13-2016 at 06:36 PM.

  3. Default

    Thanks so much AZBuck. This was a brand new way of looking at the trip and makes total sense

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Check the weather and forecast just before you leave - an alternate that's less than 100 additional miles that may be in better shape is I-75 to Toledo, US-24 to Ft. Wayne, I-69 to Indy, I-70 to STL, I-44 to OKC, then I-40 to I-15. I-70 west of Denver climbs to 12000 feet and can be a handful in the winter, but extremely scenic.

  5. Default

    Thanks glc .do you think the lower route brings into account the road clearing question in the first response

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Either route could be better or worse depending upon the conditions during your exact dates of travel. The problem is, there is no way of knowing what those conditions will be until you can see an accurate weather forecast, just days before your trip, and even when you are on the road. The key is to remain flexible and be willing to adapt as needed.

  7. Default

    Thanks ,flexibility won't be a problem

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