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  1. Default Minneapolis to San Francisco in february

    Hey everyone,

    I am new to this forum und try to get some help :) I am from Germany and in february I will visit my boyfriend who is currently in Minneapolis for an internship. We will spend some time there together and then travel to California. I hate flying so I wanna go to San Francisco by car where I will meet my boyfriend who takes the plane.

    I have 12 days to get from Minneapolis to San Francisco. I am going to rent a car and I have some experiences with roadtrips (already did some in Europe and one from NYC to Minneapolis last september). I like driving BUT: I am not used to drive on snowy roads because in Germany we do have snow winter but all the interstates and highways are kept free of snow.

    Do you think a trip like this would be possible for me? If yes: Do I need 4w-drive and does every american SUV have that? Which route would be best and which stops would you recommend (e.g. is visiting Yellowstone in winter worth the effort)?

    I don't expect someone to plan the trip for me, but some general thoughts would be nice to hear :)


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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think what appear to be one of your biggest concerns is isn't really much of a concern at all. Interstates and other highways are also kept as free of snow as possible here, just like in Germany. Of course, during a storm there is only so much road crews can do - no matter what country you are in - so you do have to be prepared to adjust your plans if there is bad weather, potentially getting off the road and waiting for those plow crews to do their job.

    4 wheel drive can be a handy tool, especially if you are heading into high elevation areas where snow comes more frequently, and the areas are more remotes, so you could run into issues before the plows can get out, however, it is not something you absolutely need - especially if you're sticking to the interstates. Not all SUVs have 4 wheel drive. If you are renting and SUV specifically to get 4wd, you'll need to make sure the model you get actually has it.

    12 days is a nice amount of time for this trip and gives you lots of options. You could comfortably drive directly from MN to SF in 4 days, so you've got quite a lot of options for detours and exploring. I probably wouldn't plan to do Yellowstone - most of the park is off limits to cars in winter. It could still be worth the effort if you were going from MN to Seattle, but it's quite a significant detour for your trip.

    One option you might consider is focusing on some of Utah's many National Parks, like Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, and Bryce Canyon. You could also potentially include the Grand Canyon in such a trip. Certainly Death Valley, Sequoia, and Yosemite are also possibilities in California - with Sequoia and Yosemite both being higher elevation places where 4 wheel drive could be helpful, and may allow you to avoid needing to use chains. Those are just some very rough ideas to get you started, however, if there are other places that look interesting to you, by all means feel free to ask more questions.

  3. Default

    Thank you so much for sharing your view on my plans with me! Feels good to hear that such a trip is doable for someone like me :) Maybe I worried too much about road conditions...

    Thank you also for the hint about Yellowstone. I decided to skip that one as I could only visit the park by booking a pretty expensive guided tour.

    Instead I am thinking about visiting Arches National Park. I wouldn't include the other National Parks in Utah because they seem to be pretty far south and I don't wanna rush through all the stops on the trip :) (The National Parks in California and Grand Canyon will be part of the San Francisco round trip I am going to do with me boyfriend afterwards.)

    For now my plan is:
    One over night stop somewhere in South Dakota
    Badlands National Park
    Mount Rushmore
    Arches National Park
    Salt Lake City
    One over night stop somewhere in Nevada
    San Francisco

    I am happy to hear about any objections or recommendations :)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Salt Lake City
    One over night stop somewhere in Nevada
    I would suggest either Battle Mountain or Winnemucca, NV as the overnight stop. Both have a number of lodging places to choose from, as well as restaurants. SLC to SAC is about 650 miles, so those two would be good "almost halfway" marks. If you'd want to be on the road the entire day, then you could overnight in Reno, which has more choice than either of those, and is around 520 miles from SLC.

    One over night stop somewhere in South Dakota
    Badlands National Park
    You could feasibly drive Minneapolis to Badlands in one day, it's right around 500 miles. But if you want to break it up, there are a few options. The area is full of history if you like that -- pioneer history (particularly Laura Ingalls Wilder), the Corps of Discovery i.e. Lewis & Clark. We had one trip planned to go from Minneapolis to Badlands by stopping at DeSmet and Chamberlain, SD. DeSmet is Laura Ingalls Wilder's setting in her book BY THE SHORES OF SILVER LAKE, and Chamberlain is full of Lewis & Clark history. That trip turned out differently, but we made it to these two places on a different trip and really enjoyed them.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Unless you wanted to visit SLC you have the option of taking US50 where you could overnight in Ely or Eureka. While in Moab you could also check out Canyonlands and before you get to either you will be passing close to Colorado National Monument near Fruita.

    For Moab, exit I-70 onto 128 through Castle Valley, it's a lovely scenic drive alongside the Colorado river and among red rocks for part of the way. Bonus is that it hardly adds any time.

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