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  1. Default Driving from L.A. to MN in Early Feb...Safe route in 3 days?


    I am relocating to Twin Cities area in Minnesota from Los Angeles for school. I have always wanted to do a road trip like this (too bad it's winter!) but I have heard scary stories about driving through Colorado Rockies (I-80, the shortest route by Google Map) in winter. Can anyone recommend alternative routes that is safe and workable in 3 and half days? What are places I can prepare to stop on the road?

    I have some light-snow driving experience back when living in Northeast but never driving in Central or Rocky Mountain regions before.

    We plan to start from LA on 2/8 by my RAV4 (not 4-wheel drive...) and need to reach Minneapolis/St Paul before dark on 2/11 so we can move stuff into my new apartment in time! I wish this is not a crazy plan...Please help!

    Thank you!!

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

    Default looks fairly crazy

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    3.5 days is on the top end of realistic for this trip. You're going to have to push nearly 600 miles a day, which isn't unrealistic, but it is going to mean around 10 hours a day in the car for the first 3 days. This of course assumes you hit good weather for your trip. If getting to MSP on 2/11 is critical, you really should give yourself an extra day as a buffer in case you do hit winter conditions.

    There are two options that I would look at for your route, I-80 across wyoming, or I-70 through Colorado, and then cut up to I-80 at Nebraska. Both are pretty similar in distance, so you'll be best off going with whichever route looks like it will have the best weather. I-40 across AZ and NM would be a possibility, but it adds 200 miles and you could hit just as bad if not worse weather. I'd only use this option if the weather looks significantly better on the southern route.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Depends on the weather what route to take

    You might check out this post for some winter-driving tips. It lists how to plan around the weather and some other helpful stuff. Make sure you read Uncle Bob's Winter Driving at bottom of that post!

    The main thing is that you really need to plan for extra time at this time of year. We generally recommend 500-550 miles per day at the top end. But those type of miles are better suited for summer weather when the days and light last longer and the roads are usually clear of weather-related issues. So you'll want to plan for less miles per day. 400 might be a good goal. And you should also try to plan some wiggle-room in case you have to layover for a day due to weather conditions.

    I'm not sure what kind of horror stories you've heard about I-80. All interstates are built to specific parameters to ensure that the big trucks, who travel these roads daily throughout the year, can use these roads. If the big trucks can drive I-80 just fine, your RAV-4 should be just fine. If a severe weather front comes in, the Colorado road crews have proper equipment and experience to get things cleared up quickly.

    If I were you, I'd plan my route around the weather predictions and not worry about the I-80 horror stories.

  4. Default Thank you for feedbacks!

    Thank you for Midwest Michael and Judy for feedback!
    The winter driving tips are awesome! Thanks for the link(s). My boyfriend has never been to New Mexico and Texas so we may eventually choose the I-40 route (Plan C from Michael Midwest...actually my Plan C too) yet it is good to know that weather can be bad too on this route we will prepare and re-discuss for possibility.

    I am thinking to change anti-freeze coolant on the way of trip as I am not sure if auto service people in LA carry ones that work under low enough temperature. Is this something I should check before the trip?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default plan C

    I can understand taking I-40 if you've never taken it before, its certainly something I would consider doing if I hadn't taken it either. However, since you are trying to cover this distance in a minimum amount of time, I really would focus on taking the fastest possible route. If you can even push your trip out to 4 full days, it would make taking the extra 200 miles via I-40 much easier.

    Most cars anti-freeze is designed to handle extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. Getting your anti-freeze tested is a very simple process, so you should certainly look into that as part of an overall pre-roadtrip inspection.

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