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Route for California to Steamboat Springs in Winter

uscav8r

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I am considering a ski trip to Steamboat Springs for Christmas. I'll be coming from Central California, which leaves me some routing options:

  1. Southern route through Las Vegas, I-70 to Grand Junction, and Hwy 13 to US-40.
  2. Southern route through Vegas, but head near Provo on I-15 before turning east on Hwy 6 and US-40.
  3. Central route on I-80 through Reno and SLC, before turning onto Hwy 40.
Vehicle will be a FWD minivan with all-season tires and a set of chains.

It's already going to be an 18-hour drive WITHOUT weather. Which is the best way to avoid snow and not risk extended road closures?
 

Ty1on

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I am considering a ski trip to Steamboat Springs for Christmas. I'll be coming from Central California, which leaves me some routing options:

  1. Southern route through Las Vegas, I-70 to Grand Junction, and Hwy 13 to US-40.
  2. Southern route through Vegas, but head near Provo on I-15 before turning east on Hwy 6 and US-40.
  3. Central route on I-80 through Reno and SLC, before turning onto Hwy 40.
Vehicle will be a FWD minivan with all-season tires and a set of chains.

It's already going to be an 18-hour drive WITHOUT weather. Which is the best way to avoid snow and not risk extended road closures?

I like 15/6/191/40

No matter how you cut it, you are taking some weather chances in Winter. At least you can have some confidence in getting to 6.
 

Ken555

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Passepartout

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I like 15/6/191/40

No matter how you cut it, you are taking some weather chances in Winter. At least you can have some confidence in getting to 6.

This is the route I'd take- in fact have done so many times in my former trucking life. You may get some weather, but on this route, the authorities have equipment to deal with it.

Jim
 

uscav8r

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So obviously no route will be risk free, that's not what I am asking.

My guy says the central route is the worst option due to crossing the Cascades and then the Rockies by SLC.

Vegas seems an alternative to cut out one major mountain range, which leaves the two other options. Sounds like I've got one vote for the Provo route.

The grand Junction route has more Interstate than the Provo route. Anyone have ideas on how bad the Hwy 13 pass from Grand Junction can get? Is it pretty difficult even in good weather?


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uscav8r

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This is the route I'd take- in fact have done so many times in my former trucking life. You may get some weather, but on this route, the authorities have equipment to deal with it.



Jim


You beat my previous post by a minute... So 2 votes for 15/6/191/40.

Is your implication that I-70 and h13 do not have as good of road clearance equipment?


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Passepartout

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You beat my previous post by a minute... So 2 votes for 15/6/191/40.

Is your implication that I-70 and h13 do not have as good of road clearance equipment?

Here we are, 4+ months from your trip. I would use the suggested route based on past experience. Now, if the day before departure, the weather forecasts and highway condition reports indicate a big honkin' storm bearing down somewhere, my route might change. My departure might be stepped up,or delayed.

Point is that Winter travel in 10,000 foot mountains is all about preparation, and being able to change as conditions warrant.
 
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uscav8r

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Here we are, 4+ months from your trip. I would use the suggested route based on past experience. Now, if the day before departure, the weather forecasts and highway condition reports indicate a big honkin' storm bearing down somewhere, my route might change. My departure might be stepped up,or delayed.

Point is that Winter travel in 10,000 foot mountains is all about preparation, and being able to change as conditions warrant.

Totally understand. Just looking for places along the potential routes for lodging contingencies. Better to have reservations in hand than to be scrambling at the last minute when it might be booked up by snowbound travelers. Thanks for your insight.


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CO skier

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Modified Southern route through Las Vegas, I-70 to Wolcott Junction east of Eagle, north on CO-131 to US-40, then north a few miles to Steamboat Springs.

This avoids all mountain passes and you are on two lane roads for the minimal amount of time.


Or, if you are traveling from north-central CA (Sacramento area)


Modified Central route on I-80 through Reno and SLC, before turning south onto WY-789/CO-13 to Craig, then east on Hwy 40. I have driven WY-789/CO-13 from I-80 to Craig when weather closed I-80 from Rawlins to Cheyenne. The storm had passed to the east, so it was not snowing. There was a stiff crosswind, but the road only had patches of snow now and then; it was not a bad drive. I-80 from SLC to Rock Springs, WY was a sheet of ice that morning, though, and best speed was about 40 mph.

A couple other points:

I-80 through Wyoming often closes when I-70 through Colorado remains open. It is rare that I-70 closes while I-80 remains open. If I-70 closes, you do not want to be on the road, anyway.

US-40 between Vernal, UT and Craig, CO is the loneliest road in America. It is a nice drive in good weather; I would not drive it in winter. (US-50 through Nevada, the official loneliest road in America, must just be marketing hype, because it is a lot busier).
 
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