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  1. Default Southern California to Detroit Mid-November

    Looking for advice and words of wisdom on a good, minimally hazardous route from Southern California to the Detroit area. I've been told 1-40 would be a good choice, but I'm getting a little nervous about winter weather in my little Kia Soul. Thanks for any suggestions.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Hi, Ellen, and welcome to RTA!

    Absolute truth is that the weather is unpredictable, especially 2 months from now. The best thing you can do is to watch the weather forecasts a day or two before your departure date. Have a couple of routes, just in case, and also carry regular, paper maps with you. Allow an extra day for travel, in case you do have to hole up somewhere and wait out the weather.

    In mid-November, I would recommend I-40 over its alternative. However, I-40 will take you up to about 7000 ft elevation in northern Arizona, and about 5000 ft in the Albuquerque area. You'll have to pick up I-44 in OKC, which is the Oklahoma Turnpike, but the toll is very minimal for a 2-axle vehicle. This is 2350 miles, or about a 5-day drive, so allow 6 days "just in case".

    Others will tell you of alternatives. One would be I-10 all the way across to I-20 in TX to I-30, and then I-55, I-57 and I-94 the rest of the way. This, however, would add about a half day's travel (250 miles) to your trip, and should only be used if I-40 is expecting to be dumped on. Frankly, you're better off waiting out a storm than going more than 100 miles out of your way.

    Another suggested way would be to take I-15 up to I-70, I-76, I-80 and I-94. It is definitely a gorgeous ride. However, the elevation in Colorado gets up to the 11,000 ft mark, and I-70 gets closed a lot. In the summer, though, this is a preferred route that we love to take into Missouri. So before deciding on this alternative, know the weather forecast.

    In any case, plan for an extra day and always carry paper maps.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I also would recommend I-40 to OKC, then I-44 to STL, then I-70 to Indy, then I-69 to Ft. Wayne. Then you have a few choices - stay on I-69 to I-94, take US-24 to Toledo to I-75, or stay on I-69 to US-12 into Ann Arbor.

    Tolls are $9.00 in OK if you do not take the turnpike bypasses around OKC and Tulsa.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Fourth Dimension of Space-Time

    As has been pointed out, there is no route that will be guaranteed to be free of snow and/or ice in the winter. Yes, you are more likely to see snow the farther north you go, the higher in elevation you go and the farther west you go (due to a combination of the previous two. But the dimension that will be your greatest ally in avoiding the worst winter weather is the fourth dimension: time. The way to make that work for you is to have more of it than you need.

    As Donna pointed out, you will need an absolute minimum of five days to make this trip safely in good weather. But you can't count on good weather and I suspect from your trepidation that you are not used to long RoadTrips. So I'd probably go a step further than Donna and plan on having seven days to make the trip. That way you could make each of your driving days a bit shorter, say 400-450 miles rather than 500-550, leaving time for some short R&R breaks each day to relax and enjoy a bit of the country you'll be driving through. That would still leave you a spare day to just sit out any adverse weather in a warm and cozy motel room rather than fighting your way down the road.

    Also note that you can pick from any of the routes that Donna and glc have recommended. There's no need to make your choice until just before you leave and have the latest weather forecasts in hand. Obviously pick the route with the least snow predicted.

    And keep in mind that you'll have several things working in your favor: First and foremost, the Interstate Highway System is designed to be an all-weather high-speed arterial road network. It is one of the major backbones of commercial traffic in this country and receives the first and best attention from plowing/salting/sanding crews. Second, the Kia Soul is a front wheel drive car which is just what you want in snowy conditions. There is a reason Subarus and similar vehicles are among the biggest sellers in states such as Maine and Colorado. Just slow down a bit - never be the fastest car on the road! And finally, since there will be generally less traffic on the main roads in winter, motel rooms will be in relatively plentiful supply. So there is no need to make reservations and you can take the trip at your own pace and pull off almost anytime along your route, whenever/wherever you think the weather is threatening to outpace your driving skills, and just wait until the road crews do their jobs.

    Relax, it will help you be a better driver and enjoy the drive more.


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