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  1. Default Dallas to Vancouver...

    Hey Everyone,
    I'm new to the froum so I have been searching past forums but thought I needed just a bit more help. I was wondering about the best route from Texas to BC based on winter road conditions. I will be travelling from Dallas to Vancouver on December 8th and have a rear wheel drive car that will be packed with a thousand pounds of my things. I've read that the safest route would not be to go through California and up to Oregon as the roads are notorious for bad winter weather. What should I be prepared for? What will the roads be like if they are good? Does good mean dry or does good mean packed, sanded snow? I do not have winter tires and my tread has been deamed good by the dealership but for dry dallas roads. I know I will have to pick up some chains but should I buy some all seasons as well? My family is pressuring me to go through California and up the west coast for what they think would be safer conditions even though it is longer. Please give me any and all advice (pretend you are my parents and give me your best advice for purchasing chains,tires,both...)
    Thanks for the help.

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

    Default Winter Basics

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    It sounds like your family has fallen into the dangerous trap/assumption that Calfornia and the west coast doesn't see bad winter weather. They also make the assumption that you could get to California without seeing poor condition. I wouldn't say that those conditions are worse than others, I just wouldn't call them better either.

    Here is the RTA Gold Standard for winter travel route planning: Every cross country route can see winter weather, so trying to guess months or weeks ahead of time which route will be best is a pointless exercise. Simply trying to go south is not a plan to avoid weather, because even I-10 and I-40 can see ice or snow. In fact, going farther south often times means that you'll hit an ice storm instead of a snow storm. Going a longer route also means you'll be spending more time on the road, which in and off itself increases your odds of seeing winter weather.

    Interstates are maintained extremely well, and are first to be cleared and/or salted after a storm. It is possible that you coud hit an area with chain restrictions, but if you aren't familiar with driving in these conditions, you'd probably be better off just waiting for the storm to clear. If you don't currently have All-Season tires, they wouldn't be a bad thing to have for this trip. If this is a move, then I think you'd want to have them for your time in Vancouver anyway.

    For a route, I think the Google suggested route of going North to Kansas, I-70 to Denver, I-25 and I-80 to Utah, and then Diagonal on I-82/84 to Seattle would be your best bet. However, check the forecasts near the time of your departure, and make sure that route looks like it will be weather friendly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default General Winter Advice

    Your general question comes up quite often this time of year. Unfortunately no one, including me, can ever give a hard and fast answer about which route will have the best weather far enough in advance to cover an entire 4-5 day drive, and your worst weather will tend to be at the end of that time period, making matters worse. What I can give you are some general pieces of advice.

    All other things being equal, the best route for safety is the shortest route. Adding the 400 miles required to go to California and up the coast means you're just adding another day where you can get bad weather, and you'd be heading up the coast in the middle of their rainy season. Not a good combination. Go instead by way of Denver and Salt Lake City.

    Interstates are the best designed and maintained roads in the country. They are built to specifications that limit the number and tightness of curves and the grade at which they can climb descend. Every effort is made to keep them open in inclement weather and to open them up again as soon as possible if they have to shut down temporarily. This is particularly true on major cross-country routes in northern climes where truckers and the local economy rely on the roads being open, and they have the equipment to do it.

    Good tires will get you through about 95+% of conditions you will meet in winter. Chains will help in another few % and a few % of conditions shouldn't be driven in, period. So, sure, get the chains, but have a good hard look at your tires, or have your mechanic or dealer take another look at them with an eye to winter conditions, not Dallas in the Fall. After all, it sounds like you're moving to British Columbia for a while and you will need at least a good set of all season radials there. Now might be the time to get them.

    The best piece of 'equipment' you can supply yourself to make sure you complete the trip safely is extra time. If conditions get to the point where you're worried enough to wish you had better tires or are considering putting on the chains, you're probably well past your experience level with driving in snow. Tires and chains are simply no substitute for time spent in such conditions. But with a day or two 'extra', you can simply sit out any bad weather wherever it occurs and let the professionals get your roads all clear and dry for you.


  4. #4


    I don't know much about road tripping as I don't have enough miles under my belt. However, I will tell you this much, a rear wheel drive with no snow/winter tires is _not_ good on snowy roads.

    I use to live in Dallas and now I live in Toronto, where I see plenty of snow. Every snowfall I see plenty of (real wheel) cars stuck on roads without (or some even with) snow tires.

    If its' snowing and or roads are bad enough that you don't think you can drive, then just stop. Also, slow down. Your car doesn't behave the same in snowy road then on dry. So, slow down and take it easy.

    Also, if you have driven in Dallas in one of those ice storms, then driving in snow will be much easier.

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