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  1. #1

    Default Aussie's heading from San Fran to Canada in Dec! Advice please!

    Hi everyone! This is my first time on this forum. My hubby, myself and 4 kids are flying into San Fran from Melbourne Australia mid December 2010. We are renting an SUV and driving up towards Spokane Washington to Trail BC Canada. The rental company has told us that they will only provide all year round tires as opposed to winter tires. Do you think that we will need chains for some of the passes. Although we will be trying to head up as quickly as possible, is there any "must see" places along the way?
    Any advice would be welcome. We have driven through the states before but not at this time of year.

  2. #2


    Welcome to the Forum! The collective knowledge of those posting here is amazing, so you're in the right place for trip advice. I can't help you answer your tire/chains question, but I can give you two pieces of advice on places you might want to see along the way:

    1. If you're going to stop in the Sonoma/Napa region to taste some wines, I recommend checking out the Castello di Amorosa winery, which is in the Calistoga area at the north end of the Napa Valley. The tour is amazing -- it's a medieval castle with lots of cool stuff to see, plus the wine is great. And if you're feeling adventurous, stop in Calistoga to get a mud bath. It's a very weird thing to do, and that's the place to do it.

    2. I'm assuming you'll be driving north along US-101 in northern California. If so, don't miss the Avenue of the Giants. It's a scenic alternate route that goes through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which is the home to some of the oldest growth redwoods in California. The trees are massive, and the scenic route is well worth it. The Avenue is well marked, it runs parallel to US-101 (sometimes crossing over and under it), and it's easy to get back on US-101 at the end of the Avenue.

    Happy trip planning!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default What's Important?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The first thing that you need to be aware of is that while your flight is probably scheduled to land mid to late in the morning from Australia, you will be in no shape to hop in a car and hit the road. You will have been sitting in a plane for about 18 hours straight with little sleep and your body will 'think' that it is dawn and you've been up all night. That is not a condition in which to set out on a day's drive. You really shouldn't plan on doing anything more on your arrival day than getting the car, getting to a hotel and sleeping for about 12 hours. You can then get up early the next morning and get started on your adventure, clearing the city before rush hour and getting a good, and safe, day's drive.

    As far as tires and chains go, a front-wheel or all-wheel drive SUV and four-season tires should be all that you need. You may be required to have chains at certain passes if the road is snow covered, but I would not buy the chains unless I knew that such would be the case. Your car hire company may offer chains for rent, and if the price were reasonable, I'd probably throw a pair in the trunk/boot just in case. But the thing you really need to be aware of is that neither winter tires not chains (nor the SUV for that matter) will get you through snow no matter what. Your skill level in winter driving is far more important, and if you have no experience, you should simply pull up along the way if conditions exceed your competence. All the gadgets in the world will not help.

    Note that in both the situations above, your condition and the road's condition, trying to get where you're going in a preset time span regardless of any other factors is a recipe for disaster. You simply must be willing to trade arrival time for safety if needed.


  4. #4


    Thanks for the advice.
    We don't have a time span that we absolutely have to be there for so we will certainly take things easy. I am Canadian so I have done winter driving and so has my hubby as he lived there for awhile. I am just not certain about what passes we might travel over. I will check with the car rental company about renting chains from them. All great advice.
    The avenue of the giants is something we did see a couple of years ago when we rented an RV and travelled up from LA to Canada and back down the west coast. They were beautiful and I would happily travel that way again.
    I will keep reading up and hopefully will be well prepared for our trip.

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