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  1. Default Driving from Colorado to California in December


    i am looking at driving with my two kids and a dog from Fort Collins, Co to Mammoth Lakes, Ca in December. Any tips on route and what winter conditions I should be concerned about? Any major passes I need to worry about? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    First of all, what will you be driving? California has probably the most restrictive traction laws in the country, and even with a 4wd vehicle with snow tires, you may be required to carry chains. Chains are frequently required on CA-203 just to get to Mammoth, and the north loop will probably be closed for the winter by then.

    The most direct route would be US-287 to I-80 west to Wendover, then Alt-93 to US-93 to Ely, then US-6 to Benton, then CA-120 to US-395 to Mammoth. Note that if you take that route, there are long stretches in NV with no services, including from Ely to Tonopah. Also, CA-120 may or may not be closed for the winter, if it is, stay on US-6 to Bishop to US-395.

    If you want to avoid all the relative desolation in NV, just stay on I-80 to Reno, then take I-580 to US-395. This is about 120 miles longer.

    I-80 across WY can be subject to high winds, black ice, and blizzard conditions. The only pass of any consequence is Parley's Summit east of SLC, this can be bypassed by taking I-84 to I-15 back to I-80.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Time and Foreknowledge vs. Geography

    glc has given you a pretty thorough overview of the routes available to you, but there are another couple of factors you need to take into account both as you plan and as you actually travel. First, you should try to remain flexible on your final choice of route right up until a day or two before you set out. That way you can get an at least semi-accurate weather report for the time you'll actually be on the road as well as be able to check on any road closures in effect. You can check the status of many highways by visiting various state highway department websites, including those for Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

    Secondly, even with the best route, chosen for both the conditions at the time of your departure and the weather forecast, there is always the chance that the weather will turn against you during your drive. So you should also try to leave a little extra time in your plans in case you simply have to get off the road during inclement weather and wait out a storm. Fort Collins to Mammoth Lakes will take two full days under the best of conditions. You should at least leave open the possibility that you will need a second night and a third day on the road, and then not hesitate to use that time rather than trying to push through dangerous weather.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 09-11-2018 at 06:35 PM.

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