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  1. #1
    bbg Guest

    Default NYC to San Fran in late November - best route?

    I moving from NYC to San Francisco over Thanksgiving and need route advice. I've read several threads but still can't decide since it's too early to forecast the weather and I've never driven west before.

    Here are the factors
    1. Need to stop in Chicago (taking I-80 from NY)
    2. Driving a 1990 V8 cargo van containing sport bike (400 lbs) and personal belongings (mostly clothes - no heavy furniture)
    3. Have about 4-5 days (plan on doing 700-800 mile days)
    4. Driving partner/passanger is a woman who would like to "see" a few things along the way
    5. I'm a good driver (drove Chicago to Phoenix in 26 hrs...) and don't mind the cold or snow. Ice is a different story.

    My main concerns are
    1. Vehicle reliability (if it breaks, where's the nearest town?)
    2. Snow/ice/wind (think...cargo van)
    3. Elevation (again...weighed-down cargo van)

    I've never taken I-80 west so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of elevation/weather in the western part of the country. I know it's the most direct route, and probably the least scenic, but is it the safest? Again, I don't mind snow all that much, but I don't want to loose time due to road closures.

    I'm also seeing posts about I-40 not being that safe in the winter, but keep in mind I'm talking late Nov here. I've only taken it as far as Flagstaff so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of weather conditions and elevation west of there. Plus this way adds about 300 miles to my trip.

    I don't know much about I-70 either, but I figure it won't make much difference in this case since I'll still have to go north or south when I hit Utah

    Any general suggestions?
    Which way is flatter, and is the difference significant?


    thanks
    bbg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default All Roads are Safe!

    Quote Originally Posted by bbg
    I'm also seeing posts about I-40 not being that safe in the winter, but keep in mind I'm talking late Nov here. I've only taken it as far as Flagstaff so I'm not sure what to expect in terms of weather conditions and elevation west of there. Plus this way adds about 300 miles to my trip.
    Welcome to the Forum!
    I don't think you have seen any posts that would suggest that I-40 (or any other Federal highway) is not safe during any season. The reality is that you have a good chance of hitting snow on any cross country route at Thanksgiving. You may have an equally good chance of having blue skies and warm days. Thanksgiving is a bit variable in that regards.
    Which way is flatter, and is the difference significant?
    The flattest over-all route would I-80, but both I-40 and I-70 cross over gorgeous country.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Like Mark said, the weather will vary. But the major highways tend to be safe even in the worst of weather. You should only face short delays. Carry chains. Read the tips for mountain driving and winter driving.

    If you're worried about breakdowns, a AAA membership is probably a good idea. The Plus membership gives you towing for up to 100 miles. It's a big country and some areas are sparsely populated but you would be hard-pressed to be where a town isn't within 100 miles from wherever you are.

    I think I-40 would be a great route at that time of year. If that's what you prefer to see, go for it.

  4. #4
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    I have seen and dealt with I-40 and the problems that a good winter storm can bring. We had a good licking last year in Northern Arizona and I-40 became so dangerous that the state police wouldn't even drive it... but that was a rare few days. To say it doesn't happen would be a lie, but to say it happens all the time would also. The best thing to do with any cross country drive, especially in winter, is watch the weather reports closely, usually you can find them frequently on your AM dial in any area, and many cell phones have internet access now, so you can access NOAA weather radar and reports directly from your web-enabled cell phone. If this is not an option for you, you can get prerecorded NWS weather reports from region-specific phone numbers listed here, and NOAA All-Hazards/Weather Radios are easy to come by and great to have. Mine is built into a portable CB radio, and I take it where ever I go.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Good info, Brad.

    I just splurged on satellite radio so I haven't listened to it much yet, but it has a weather channel. I think this would be handy to have as well.

  6. #6
    bbg Guest

    Default Nyc-sf

    Thanks guys. I've decided to skip Chicago and head south from NY till I hit I-40, then take that across. It's an additional 400 miles, but the difference in temps alone (60's vs 40's) seems to be the motivating factor at the moment for me.

    bbg

  7. Default

    i took I-80 coming from DC to San Jose in May.

    nice flat land (Ill, Ks, Ne, Ia, Nv) until you reach Wyoming. 7000 ft elevations. this is where 380hp made a nice difference.

    Utah had high elevations also...and curvy. at least Wyoming was straight. going through Lake Tahoe was hairy and curvy too..especially with my car completely packed full of cargo...even in a hiperf car. wouldn't be very fun in a van.

    thankfully i just missed a snow storm in Tahoe. there were snow on the sides in Wyoming too. this was May.

    yeah, take I-40.

    i was cruising 80-85mph most of the way down I-80 with plenty of 100-130mph blasts. this is what i'll miss most as i've heard on I-40 there are more cops and the limit is lower than 75mph.

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