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  1. Default Moving back to midwest from NorCal Advice Please!

    Hi,
    I am moving back to the midwest (Minnesota) from San Jose CA. I will be driving an Acura AWD, towing a uhaul trailer. Oh, did I mention the two dogs?! I am nervous about the I80 portion around Tahoe. Can anyone suggest a southern route or a route that is less than a crap shoot?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Welcome to RTA!

    Well, for a southern route you would have to go all the way down to I-40 or even I-10. You could even go north to I-90. Nothing is immune from winter weather, and you have to cross mountains no matter which way you go. I'd recommend you take the shortest all-Interstate route, it would help us if you indicated where in MN you are going. If the weather looks bad, just find a hotel and wait it out.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I-80 is almost certainly your best bet, although to be honest, Tahoe would be the part I would be least concerned about. You should be able to see the forecast over Donner Pass before you leave, and if it's bad, you can always delay the start of your trip for a day until the storm passes.

    The more challenging portion is likely to be I-80 across Wyoming, which doesn't have a lot of elevation change, but stays on a high plain that can see high winds, blowing snow, etc.

    But every route is a crapshoot. You could go down to I-40, drive across to OK, and then head back up. That route adds 300 miles - so another half day of driving - and it still can see snow across AZ and NM and ice storms across the southern plains. Your better bet is generally to watch the forecast, keep to the more direct route unless there is a specific storm you know you can avoid, and if you still hit a storm, pull off the road until conditions improve.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    10,018

    Default “Time is so strange, and life is twice as strange.”

    The Ray Bradbury quote above sums up what Michael said. Your trip is going to be about time and timing at least as much or more than it's going to be about weather and route. First and foremost there's the matter of time. Given that you'll be towing a U-haul (size unknown to us) with an Acura (towing capacity ~5,000 lbs.) over some tall mountains with relatively steep grades, this trip deserves a minimum of five days on the road. You may not need all of the fifth day, but you can't expect to do this trip in four and arriving in the morning gives you time to maybe unload a few essentials on the day you get there. Also, a little margin wouldn't hurt.

    Secondly, there's the timing. As Michael noted, your single most (but not only) weather-sensitive stretch will be Donner Pass through the Sierra Nevada. This is right at the start of your trip, on the first day you're on the road, so you do have the luxury of starting knowing what the weather will when you get there. If it's not to your liking, simply stay put in San Jose, or just get a bit of a start and get to the east side of Sacramento and take a room. Again, a little time margin wouldn't hurt.

    Finally, in Wyoming, you'll need to do your only serious bit of surface road driving, from Rawlins where you'll leave I-80 to Gillette where you'll get on I-90. In between you'll use US-287, WY-220, WY-257, and US-26 (bypass) to I-25 at Casper for a short bit. About 20 miles or so north of Casper you'll be back on surface roads, WY-259, WY-387 and WY-50 to Gillette and I-90 east into Minnesota (precise destination unknown to us). Using such roads mean you'll be taking longer than if you had an all-Interstate route. On the plus side, it will be a bit easier to deal with any winds if you're going slower and there's less traffic. BTW, you need to ignore as fantasy any driving-time estimates you get from software-based mapping programs. Plan on 4½ to 5 days, with a day or two in your back pocket as margin, and you won't feel rushed or the need for recklessly pushing on in the face of adversity.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Finally, in Wyoming, you'll need to do your only serious bit of surface road driving, from Rawlins where you'll leave I-80 to Gillette where you'll get on I-90.
    It depends upon specifically where you're going in MN, but assuming it's the Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area, I would skip using I-90 at all and instead take I-80 all the way to Iowa and shoot up I-35. It's a little bit longer, but the savings from avoiding 2 lane roads in Wyoming, especially while towing in winter, would make that an easy decision for me.

  6. Default

    Thank you for responding. I am moving to the Northern part outside of Duluth.

  7. Default

    Thank you all so much for your knowledgeable answers. I plan on reading them all thoroughly while looking at a map!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    If you are going to Duluth, I'd still take I-80 to I-35. If you are towing, staying on Interstates would be best even though you can save 180 miles by taking the fastest (in good weather) route.

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