Hi - I'm driving from Southern California to Denver Colorado in January and driving back in April or May.
I need some basic information on what I can expect. DO i need to get snow tires? Or chains? I am driving straight through by myself. What can I expect in terms of road safety and weather issues. I drive a Volkswagen Jetta.
I doubt you'd have any weather troubles in April or May, not that it can't snow in the high country at that time, but usually those late storms don't have the major effects of a winter storm on road conditions. Usually.
For January, you might find the entire route OK, or you could run into a storm. You won't know until a few days before the trip what you can expect to find, even then, weather forecasts can be wrong.
That said, you will most likely find the major roads passable, if not clear, unless there has been an immediate storm. If it were me, I wouldn't buy snow tires just for the trip itself (unless the last minute weather report says storm), but you MIGHT want them for the months you'll be spending in Denver. Perhaps some Denver folks could give a recommendation in that area as I'm a dry desert rat and know little about living and driving in those conditions. And before you Minnesotans start complaining about how lucky I am to be a desert rat, just remember what June, July, August and September are like here in the desert! People say, "but it's a DRY heat." Yeah, right. That's how you make jerky! :) Bob
Thanks for your post. Do you think I should go from SoCal to AZ and then CO instead of going through Utah? Do you think that's a safer trip, in terms of roads and weather?
Hard to say!
My advice is to check the weather forecast a few days before you go, then keep an eye on it and plan your route accordingly. It could be that going through Utah might be a better choice, depending on WHERE the weather is at the time, where it came from and where it is headed. Or, you may luck out and it could be beautiful EVERYWHERE! If you watch the weather channel, or just keep track on the Internet, you'll get a good picture of whether any particular route is go/no go or not. Don't obsess about it either -- chances are good you'll find the main roads passable even if the snow does fall.
One last bit of advice: be careful about driving straight through. Your journey is a long one (probably 20-21 hours), and if the weather is tough, the driving is even tougher. Simply stated, you'll fatigue more quickly. Don't take chances -- if you get tired, stop and sleep for awhile -- there are plenty of places to do that along your route. The graveyards are full of folks that didn't. If you take I-40 to I-25 at Albuquerque, for example, you'll find Grants or Gallup, NM to be a natural place to take a break, and there are lots of rooms in either of those towns.
The SoCal-Arizona-New Mexico-Colorado Route
Did that trip in reverse back in 2002.
I happen to like the route alot. You'll pass right by Petrified Forest National Park (there's a loop road through the park...TAKE IT!) and through Santa Fe, NM, as beautiful a city as there is in the country.
Plenty of motels and services along the route. I stopped in Grants, NM as a "halfway" point.
Good luck and safe driving.
Claro que si!
"Clearly, that's yes! I like the I-40/I-25 route also, especially the area between Sanders, AZ and Grants, NM, and I-25 between Las Vegas and Raton, NM. In springtime, the I-25 stretch is one of the prettiest ranch lands in the country, with the snow-capped Sangre de Christo mountains as a backdrop. It's also very dramatic weather-wise, being the interface between the Plains and the Rockies (storms seem to brew there), and as it is the southern end of the Santa Fe Trail, is loaded with history as well.
Of course, I-15 and I-70 through Utah is spectacular too! I try to find a different route each time I go.