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  1. #1

    Default Minneapolis to San Francisco planned late Feb 2017

    Hi guys

    I am planning a trip to San Francisco from Minneapolis in late Feb 2017.

    Although I plan to hire an SUV such as a Kia Sorento or equivalent, I am trying to dodge snow at all times. That is I want to avoid Mountain passes that can get snowed in.

    Google Maps indicates the following route.

    This traverses through South Dakota and Wyoming ending up travelling along I-80 from Casper to San Francisco.

    Although I driven all over the US, this is a new route to me.

    If you can offer any feedback regarding this route or any more temperate ( weatherwise ) routes, I would be most appreciative.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Time can be managed, weather can't.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The simple fact is that you can't choose any winter route a month in advance that does not have the potential to see ice and snow, it doesn't exist. The only thing you can do is to keep an eye on the weather forecasts and road conditions a couple of days before you depart and then keep checking, then you can make an informed decision as to whether one route is more beneficial than another. The most important thing is having the necessary time available to complete the journey safely, in this particular case that will be 3 overnight stops. Four days would allow for a little 'wiggle' room for short delays, but it would be helpful to have another day available in case of a major storm, when it's wise just to get off the road and rest up while the storm passes and road crews go about clearing up.

    Have a safe journey.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I would not follow the recommendations of google in this case - assuming your goal is just to get there as quick as possible, and with as little problem with weather as possible.

    I would take I-35 south to Des Moines and then take I-80 west from there. It's not that this route is any more or less likely to see bad weather, but it is Interstates the entire way - and thus roads that are cleared more quickly when there is bad weather. The route google has you taking 2 lane roads through the Black Hills of western South Dakota and also takes you off the interstates to get from Casper to I-80.

  4. #4

    Default Alternative route

    While I don't necessarily dislike the I-35 to Des Moines suggestion in order to keep it "all Interstate", I do suggest an alternate route to connect I-90 to I-80 including going through Casper, WY if you're motivated to travel a more direct route. Instead of the 2 lane highways through the Black Hills, I'd turn south off of I-90 at Murdo, SD on US 83, take that to Valentine, NE, thence west on US 20 through Chadron and Crawford, NE, through Lusk, WY, connecting to I-25 at Douglas, I-25 to Casper, then the route you show from Casper to Rawlins. I've driven all of that excepting Valentine to Crawford, NE, and it's all wide 2-lane highway with little in the way of long grades. Even the Casper to Rawlins is very good 2 lane highway.

    But if your weather info feed a day or two before departure indicates serious winter storms, I'd most definitely stick to any all-Interstate routes. Pretty much the whole way from Casper to Rawlins, and from Rawlins to SLC, for that matter, is atop a high plateau with elevations gradually increasing from a shade over 5,000' to over 6,800' from Casper to Rawlins. Also, be aware of the slightly longer but much gentler descent out of the Wasatch/Unintas into the Salt Lake Basin which is involved in taking I-84 west from Echo Canyon (east of Park City, UT) to Ogden, thence I-15 south to the I-215 loop and onto I-80 near the SLC airport. Doing that avoids the +7,000' pass at Parley's Summit near Park City, UT, and a rather banzai 3,500' drop along 3-lanes each direction downhill for 8 miles and through a tight, twisty canyon at the bottom to reach I-15 in SLC. You'll avoid SLC rush hour traffic doing the I-84 thing, as well, but you don't want to do that if it will involve the Ogden-SLC segment during the morning rush hour.

    If you choose the US 83 to US 20 route above, be sure to top off your fuel tank at Murdo and consider it again at either Chadron or Crawford, and by all means, be sure to leave Casper with a full tank, as there is not much between Casper and Rawlins.


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