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  1. Default From Los Angeles, CA to Denver, CO in February

    I am planning a relocation from the Los Angeles area to Denver, CO in mid-February. I will be solo driving a 20’ rental truck and towing a flatbed car transport with my car on it. I don’t have much experience driving trucks and no experience towing, so this will be an adventure. I plan on making sure the truck comes with chains and will acquaint myself with how to install them beforehand. Will the car trailer need chains as well? What route would be recommended?

    If I was just in my SUV I’d go with the direct I70 route, but I’m very hesitant to do so in an unfamiliar truck with trailer in winter. Would I40 to I25 be safer? I80 to the North? Of course, I'll be checking and monitoring weather forecasts and conditions closely as the trip approaches and will adjust my plans accordingly.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,778

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    I think I would take I-40 to I-25. I-70 is a difficult tow any time of the year and I-80 across WY can get very nasty in the winter, strong winds, blowing snow, and black ice. If conditions require chains, get off the road and wait it out. Even I-40 has elevations over 7000', if possible rent a diesel truck, not a gasser. U-Haul is all gas, look at Penske, they rent diesels. The diesel will have a lot more power and get much better fuel mileage, those Ford V10's in the U-Haul trucks get about 6 mpg.

    If the weather along I-40 is bad, consider taking I-10 to Deming NM, then NM-26 to I-25.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,819

    Default Cart Before the Horse

    I concur with glc's suggested routing of I-15/I-40/I-25. Although a bit longer than the shortest all-Interstate route, I-15/I-70, it is much flatter and straighter and stays at generally lower elevations. But there are more pressing things you need to be aware of. This will be a three day trip at a minimum, no matter what route you choose. Do not be fooled by mapping routines that claim that you can drive it in as little as 16 hours. Such an estimate assumes that you will be driving at or above the speed limit for every second of those 16 hours. It allows no time for stops for food, fuel or even a bathroom break. And you will not be going anywhere near the speed limit, especially climbing hills. Also allow at least a day extra on either end of the trip to load and unload the truck. so you'll need to rent it for 5 days minimum.

    Now as to how to use chains. That's simple: Don't! You state that you "donít have much experience driving trucks and no experience towing." Chains will not help you. Indeed, they make you over-confident in your own (nonexistent?) abilities. If you run into snow, or worse - ice, simply get off the highway and into a nice warm motel room and wait out the storm. Then give the road crews time to do their jobs and plow/salt/sand the highways. The Interstates get first and best service in this regard. But keep in mind: Chains will not help you in snow/ice conditions. Period. Check the weather forecast a day or two before you pick up the truck/trailer and if any adverse weather is predicted for the roads you'll be on while you're on them, reserve the truck for an extra day (or two). Sitting out bad weather is the only way you're going to make this trip safely. One last time: Chains will not help you.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,588

    Default

    I've actually driven a rental truck, towing a car, from SoCal to Denver (and beyond) in February. I went I-15 to I-70 and had zero problems.

    The key is to watch the forecasts. I had perfectly fine weather, and thus no issues. If there was bad weather forecast on I-70, then I probably would have taken I-40 (which isn't immune from winter weather, although it does stay at a lower elevation).

    Echoing what Buck said, do not worry about chains. The rental truck will not have them, and probably will not allow them to be used. More importantly, if conditions are so bad you need chains, then you have no business being on the road, especially while towing. Stay flexible, and know you may have to sit and wait for a storm to pass and for conditions to improve.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,243

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    My husband and I just did that similar trip, back in February 2018, moving a daughter and her family from San Diego to Denver. You can read about it here. Note that we drove this in 2-1/2 days. They were LONG days, too. Bear in mind that you will lose an hour along the way, as soon as you drive into Arizona, and that daylight hours are shorter. We chose the "southern route" for a few reasons: we did not want to drive at 11,000 ft elevation with that rig, the obvious place for the first overnight was Flagstaff and we couldn't get any reservations (see below), and we'd never driven 8/10/25 before!

    If you are traveling on the President's Day weekend in February, please note that NAU Flagstaff has a major music festival that weekend, every year. It fills hotels and what vacancies there are, are more expensive than they might otherwise be. Also there is more chance of snow on I-40 in Arizona because of the elevation, though there can be snow along I-10 or I-25 in NM, especially in the Raton Pass area (northern NM on I-25).


    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 09-25-2019 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Added information

  6. Default

    A lot of great advice, thanks all! I thought chains were required in winter but I’ll happily skip them. I wouldn’t want to be driving in conditions that would need them anyway! Appreciate the comments on trip time too. I’m used to blitzing thru on long road trips in a car but I’ll certainly have a slower pace in a loaded rental truck with a tow.

    I was hoping to make the drive in two solid days but I’ll reset my expectation for three instead. I’ll be traveling weekdays and have extra time available to hole up if weather is an issue. I’ll probably plan on I40 / I25 unless there’s severe clear. I think towing the car carrier has me more spooked than anything and I’ve been worrying about complications with altitude.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
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    I’ve been worrying about complications with altitude.
    That's one reason I'm suggesting a diesel.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,243

    Default

    Here is our planning thread for the trip we did back in 2018. A lot of the issues you're thinking about, we thought about too. Maybe it will help!


    Donna

  9. Default

    Thanks Donna, I am going thru many of the same questions you seem to have had.

    Iíd prefer a diesel but will wait and see whatís available at a decent rate. Still trying to figure out the size of truck Iíll need. (1100 sq ft of bedroom, office, living room, dining room, kitchen and garage.) Iíll have to check that my lodging will be able to accommodate the truck + trailer. Not looking forward to trying to make pit stops and food breaks in it. Hopefully leaving the auto trailer attached overnight will be secure.

    Iíve done the drive on I40 out to Albuquerque many years before, but have never been on I25. Iím looking forward to seeing some new scenery on that route!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,588

    Default

    A diesel is preferable, so it certainly pays to ask for one.

    Having said that, if it's not available, you still really don't have anything to worry about. These trucks have plenty of power to get over the mountains, even while towing, and even with a gas engine. You probably won't be doing 70 up the mountains, but stay in the right lane and you'll be just fine.

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