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  1. Default Chicago to Tucson and back in Winter

    Hello all

    We are planning a trip to the US from the UK in December. We want to visit as many friends and family as possible in one trip in three weeks. We will fly into Chicago and want to drive to Tuscon. We'll mostly stick to Route 66 for this leg. On the way back we would like to do the Grand Canyon and then onto Boulder CO before heading back across Kansas and Missouri. Friends in Chicago have said they are worried as they think this trip is insane and that the weather could be terrible. I would love some expert opinions! We will rent a decent car, probably as SUV, are used to driving long distances and will have plenty of time to do the journey. Am I being unrealistic to think that with careful planning, this is perfectly do-able? Are there any parts of this route that may be impassable/closed/dangerous? I'm happy to come up with a plan B in advance just in case.

    Many thanks in advance for your input

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,737

    Default Plan to Have Your Plans Fail

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It has been pointed out in several discussions here that the best RoadTrips are built around several alternative plans and always with a backup plan of seeing all your planning go out the window in the end and having to deal with realities on the ground. Your trip will almost certainly be one such. The fact is that December is the dead of winter when snowstorms can and do bring ALL road travel in the Midwest and Great Plains to a total standstill, sometimes for days on end. At the very least you will need to build lots of leeway into you itinerary and be willing to turn for home (Chicago n this case) well before you reach your final destination of the end of Route-66 or the Grand Canyon.

    To wit, a couple of things you need to be aware of. First, US-66 no longer exists as a 'US Highway'. It has been decommissioned and replaced by I-55, I-44 and I-40 for the most part. Now most of the old roadbed is still out there, usually marked as "Historic Route 66" (as in Illinois and Missouri), or as a state highway (e.g. OK-66), or it is simply duplexed with (shares the same roadbed as) the replacement Interstate. It's going to take some effort to follow it. Secondly, you may have visions of visiting the Grand Canyon in the Desert Southwest of 'sunny' Arizona. But the fact is that the South Rim of the Canyon sits at about 7'000 feet above sea level. It can and does see serious snowfall during the winter months. The Arizona Snowbowl, a major ski area sits south of the South Rim.

    Finally, the type of car you rent will have little or no bearing on your ability to navigate in snow or ice if you have no experience in such conditions. The most important piece of equipment in such circumstances is notoriously "the nut behind the wheel."

    So yes, it is within the realm of possibility that the weather will co-operate and you can pull off the trip as you've planned, but it's also possible that everything will go SNAFU and you simply will have to turn for home sooner than expected and before you reach your major goals. As a bottom line you should be willing to turn for Chicago or Tucson, or wherever you're flying home from, whenever you have less than the number of days needed for the drive plus 2 to account for any more inclement weather on your return.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thank you for your response. I've driven R66 before so I'm aware of the situation there and because of that I don't feel the need to stick to it religiously. I'm also under no illusions about sunny AZ, my family live there so I've been there in the winter a few times. I'll be bringing the big coat! Sounds like the best plan is to keep the plan loose, book cancellable hotels and keep a keen eye on the weather forecast.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,264

    Default

    That sounds like a good plan ! To say the trip is insane is really overstating the fact. Across the entire USA life must go on during the winter months and goods must be transported across the country, Kids have to go to school while parents go to work and shop. Yes there could well be disruption as Buck mentioned but if you are well prepared and willing to change your plans when needed then there is nothing wrong in creating a road trip around family visits. Just use common sense, if a major storm comes through and conditions become difficult, pull off the road and find a nice room and relax while the storm passes and the road crews go about their work.

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