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Winter roadtrip advice

Brisbane, Australia
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Winter roadtrip advice

Planning a road trip for mid February to late March next year. Planning to drive in Co, SD, WY, Ut, NV, NM. Question relates to weather forecasts in that time of year. How much notice can we expect to get in relation to coming snow n ice with road closures? Would it be reasonable to expect a couple of days notice generally in relation to changing conditions? Just looking at how many alternative routes we need to include in our plans.

I know those who live in a cold climate prefer to holiday away from the cold, but we are committed to that time of year. A road trip through Colorado in April 2010 has us wanting more cold weather travel.

Chula Vista...
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1. Re: Winter roadtrip advice

Hi AndPancho,

Welcome. That's quite the trip you have planned for that time of year...

As far as how much notice you get about impending bad weather... The best thing to do is keep abreast of the weather using both internet resources like weather.com and local television or media outlets. You should be able to have a 1-3 days warning with relatively decent accuracy of an approaching storm.

Of course, local topography and other conditions can sometimes cause weather to be better or worse in a small geographic area (e.g., wind blowing through a canyon causing snow drifts; high elevation mountain passes; local pop-up thunderstorms in spring, etc.).

Another resource to use is each state's Department of Transportation. Most will have a toll-free highway condition hotline telephone number you can call, or you can check their website for maps with current conditions (the content varies from state-to-state.) Some rest areas and truck stops along the Interstate highways (motorways) will have either video displays with current radar/weather conditions.

I'm really glad to hear that you're already considering alternative routes/plans. The last thing you want to do is get stranded on a highway for hours on end (and it does happen, especially in remote areas). Better to play it safe than sorry. The key is to allow yourself ample time and to be flexible at a moment's notice.

In this post on another topic, I provided some tips for being prepared for winter driving in a worst case scenario:

tripadvisor.com/…44690884

Remember that many roads at higher elevations will likely be closed for the season because of snow. (Not our Interstate highways/motorways, of course, but they too, can be temporarily closed in a severe storm.) Also, you will have to be flexible on your reservations in case you get delayed (make sure any deposits are refundable).

I hope that helps you get started. I'd be happy to look over your proposed route for a reality check once you get it better developed.

Finally, I understand your time constraints on your holiday. Personally, would encourage you to look at other options with a more temperate climate for a more relaxing and enjoyable holiday. If you're going to be stressed out about the weather for 6 weeks you're just not going to have any fun.

Zed

Edited: 30 October 2012, 07:11
Uden, The...
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for Road Trips
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2. Re: Winter roadtrip advice

Rent a car with AWD and proper tires. Never a car with just RWD. If an awd car is not available make sure the car had FWD. Nothing worse than driving in snow with just RWD.

Brisbane, Australia
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3. Re: Winter roadtrip advice

Thanks for the replies.

This trip is going to be a bit different to our previous visits. We generally plan fairly loosely, and have plenty of general ideas and information before setting out. In the past we havent made many bookings before setting out.

This time due to major health and wealth changes that occurred in the last year, this trip is going to be more of a 'tick off our bucket list' and 'jam in as many sights as possible' because we may not be able to do it again for a long time if at all. Not ideal way to go, but thats the idea at the moment.

We are working on an itinerary but are making alternative plans based on possible changing weather conditions.

So far we have made bookings for snowcat tours and accommodation at West Yellowstone, accommodation at Gouldings (Monument Valley), accommodations at Bright Angels Cabins (Grand Canyon) and in Denver for the first and last couple of nights. Now we are working on filling the gaps in between.

On our previous trips we've rented either a Suburban or a Tahoe. On this trip we are bringing along SWMBOs father and were thinking of something like a Dodge Caravan. We do a lot of shopping (last two trips brought home seven and nine suitcases). Thought there might be more usable storage space in the people mover style of vehicle with the third passenger.

Thanks again.

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Winter roadtrip advice

Not stressed about the weather. Just don't want to be caught without any alternatives.

One of the highlights of our last Colorado trip was being stuck in Ouray because of the icy road conditions. Had planned on driving on to Durango that afternoon but were stuck. Spent the afternoon in a hot-tub in the snow. Magic.

Park City, Utah
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5. Re: Winter roadtrip advice

How many of you are traveling? A Tahoe or Suburban is likely to comfortably accommodate as many persons and bags as a Dodge Caravan and would be far more practical for your travel objectives given the potential weather.

Roseville...
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6. Re: Winter roadtrip advice

Whatever the vehicle, just be sure you have 4 wheel or all wheel drive.

7. Re: Winter roadtrip advice

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