Best route during winter from L.A. to Seattle
I will be driving from Los Angeles to Seattle just before Christmas. Anyone know the best route to avoid the mountain passes in Northern CA and southern Oregon? I hear they can get nasty and I won't be driving an SUV.
I believe the only route where you may be able to bypass snow would be along the coast. Although actually getting to the coast might still be tricky if the winter weather is pretty bad.
Probably safer in a non-SUV
I don't know what you are driving, but the incidence of spin-outs in SUV's on icy roads far exceeds all other classes of vehicles. Mostly this is due to some drivers over-reliance on SUV-traction and/or 4-WD technology. Careful, smart driving is far more safer than just about anything.
Yes, there is a possibility that you will hit snow on the passes along I-5 as you proceed through the Cascades and Coastal Ranges. But the California and Oregon highway departments are good and the roads will tend to stay open, except in the worst of winter weather.
Coastal routes are hands-down gorgeous -- but if it is snowing in the mountains, it will be slick on the coastal routes and much, much slower than I-5.
If quickness of the journey is a consideration -- use I-5 and put the hammer down (within reason, of course!)
Unless you want to add an entire day to your trip, you really need to stick with I-5 which...yes...has a few passes to navigate. the only other option is the coast route which although snowless and beautiful is a LOOONG drive (two-lane, curvy, slow). But December isn't the coldest winter month, January and February are a lot more iffy. Its not impossible to run into december snow, but I really wouldn't worry about it. Do you have chains? If your worried, buy chains. With chains, if the passes are open you will have no problem getting through regardless of the car your driving. If the passes are unsafe...they close 'em. Have a great drive.