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Old 09-19-2017, 10:12 PM   #1
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Road trip MT to NM I-15 or I-25

Greetings everyone taking my bus on a huge maiden voyage will be driving from Butte,MT to ABQ,NM around the 1st of October.

Of those who know the route well would you take I-15 or I-25, looking for the one with the least amount of pass's and what would be the easiest drive that time of year. Google shows both, one is like 100 miles longer but I-25 I like much better straight shot on down south, but worry about big hills and mountains etc
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:21 PM   #2
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i've driven Butte to Denver a number of times and Denver to Albuquerque a few too. i can only think of 3 hills.

the toughest hill is right at Butte and again Cardwell. the third big one is Raton pass, but it is long straight fairly easy grade.

i havent done I15 south in a long time. i remember it being a 2 lane highway but maybe thats changed over the years.

Denver traffic is the biggest obstacle on I25

i want to move back to the area - i grew up around p-berg / drummond

good luck!
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:35 PM   #3
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I agree about Denver traffic being the biggest obstacle on I25. Raton Pass is no problem.
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:41 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback, you must have spend many summers at g-town lake. I love going up to storm lake.

Not to worried about traffic I am giving my self plenty of time 3 days. I am running heavy and want to avoid any huge pass's I have done homestake pass twice in the bus it not too bad. Dropped into 3rd and crawled up but that was pre conversion.

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i've driven Butte to Denver a number of times and Denver to Albuquerque a few too. i can only think of 3 hills.

the toughest hill is right at Butte and again Cardwell. the third big one is Raton pass, but it is long straight fairly easy grade.

i havent done I15 south in a long time. i remember it being a 2 lane highway but maybe thats changed over the years.

Denver traffic is the biggest obstacle on I25

i want to move back to the area - i grew up around p-berg / drummond

good luck!
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Old 09-20-2017, 12:25 AM   #5
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I can tell you that I-15 through the northern half of Utah (say, Tremonton to Scipio) is tame so far as elevation is concerned. I've only driven it as far north as Idaho Falls, though not very often, but it seems the only notable southbound climb is heading into Malad. I can't say anything about southern Utah toward New Mexico.

We've had our first snow storms the past couple days bringing snow down to maybe 8000 feet, but that's well above I-15 here. We'll probably warm up again, at least a little, in the next two weeks.
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Old 09-20-2017, 05:13 AM   #6
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Congratulations on your Maiden Voyage good luck and Happy Trails!

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Old 09-20-2017, 09:10 AM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback, you must have spend many summers at g-town lake. I love going up to storm lake.
i logged around georgetown lake back in the 80's. now its a bunch of condos on the lakeside back on the section we worked.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:21 AM   #8
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Greetings everyone taking my bus on a huge maiden voyage will be driving from Butte,MT to ABQ,NM around the 1st of October.
Howdy bigskypc50! I grew up in Helena.

Since you are from the west and understand hills… I-90 -> I-25 is very easy (as noted). From Butte, there are no scary hills (Bozeman Pass, Raton Pass). I-15 is much more interesting (in my opinion) but it does offer a few challenges and there are lots of neat highways to use to cut down/across. However; it takes much longer and is much more of an adventure. Sounds like you are not looking for that kind of adventure.

Denver, in my opinion, is best driven straight thru during the off hours (middle of the night). The 'problem' that it seems to present is lots of traffic moving fast (for about 100 miles) which often becomes kinda overwhelming.

I don't think weather will be an issue that time of year (certainly not south of Colorado Springs) but do keep an eye out for an early winter storm anyway.

Are you heading south for the winter or going to see the balloons?
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:29 AM   #9
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I was just up in Helena doing a trip to Home Depot last week, I like Helena.

Ya I am just looking to get down to NM with the least amount of excitement as possible. So it sounds like I-90 to I-25 is the way to go.

I am staying on a buddies land in southern NM but I won't be ready to move until early next year, so thought I would move the bus down to ABQ and get it close and out of the freezing cold Montana. Where an unheated bus in 25 below 0 would likely mess up my floors and walls etc.

I am like 10 days out from my trip and it looks like the temps will stay in the 70's all the way down. It's in the low 20's here now and was thinking the rest of the route was that cold. Not thinking very well.

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Howdy bigskypc50! I grew up in Helena.

Since you are from the west and understand hills… I-90 -> I-25 is very easy (as noted). From Butte, there are no scary hills (Bozeman Pass, Raton Pass). I-15 is much more interesting (in my opinion) but it does offer a few challenges and there are lots of neat highways to use to cut down/across. However; it takes much longer and is much more of an adventure. Sounds like you are not looking for that kind of adventure.

Denver, in my opinion, is best driven straight thru during the off hours (middle of the night). The 'problem' that it seems to present is lots of traffic moving fast (for about 100 miles) which often becomes kinda overwhelming.

I don't think weather will be an issue that time of year (certainly not south of Colorado Springs) but do keep an eye out for an early winter storm anyway.

Are you heading south for the winter or going to see the balloons?
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Old 09-20-2017, 12:37 PM   #10
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I am staying on a buddies land in southern NM but I won't be ready to move until early next year, so thought I would move the bus down to ABQ and get it close and out of the freezing cold Montana. Where an unheated bus in 25 below 0 would likely mess up my floors and walls etc.
Very kewl! I'm currently at 8000' near Grants, NM. Overnight temps are in the high 40's (though the 30's are coming fast), daytime highs in the mid 70's. Warmer down at the typical 4000'-5000'.

I have not worked on bus heat yet either. I'll likely spend the winter in NM at the state parks down south ($5/night for electric with annual pass) (Truth or Consequences, Deming, etc) so I can use electric heaters during the cold period (end of Dec, part of Jan but varies). The temps over near Yuma/Parker/Lake Havasu AZ are always pretty reasonable though they often have a cold spell (same time period). The elevation is very low there which helps tremendously.
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Old 09-28-2017, 09:10 PM   #11
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I was looking at taking the Biggie Bus to Helena - but I am concerned about hills - it's been about 20 years since I last drove out - but I am looking to move. I am curious how the bus will do - Not sure I could survive a winter in the bus in Helena... Any thoughts / suggestions?

I am looking to head out there in November - I know I should wait until April or May... but opportunities are knocking - and it is way too hot in Florida!
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:20 AM   #12
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I was looking at taking the Biggie Bus to Helena - but I am concerned about hills - it's been about 20 years since I last drove out - but I am looking to move. I am curious how the bus will do - Not sure I could survive a winter in the bus in Helena... Any thoughts / suggestions?
My advice (someone that spent nearly 40 years in Montana and Minnesota), don't do it.

That said, if your rig is WELL equipped for the cold, it is doable. By well equipped, I mean seriously well insulated and lots of interior heating. You will likely need insulated exterior skirting. When it hits thirty below zero, there will be no where to run except the nearest hotel.
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Old 09-29-2017, 08:23 AM   #13
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wow november in the mountains! from my past travels out there. the weather can be wildly changing quickly.. seems november in denver and points north / west ends up quite snowy quite quickly.. unless we go into an inverted pattern where it ends up warm-west and a big cold snap east.

from the early-study weather models of this season I expect the west gets a decently snowy late fall to get the ski resorts up and going.. but come january the pattern looks like it might flip and ease up a bit..

id pay close attention taking that route in a bus in november.

if you havent super-insualted that florida bus. you may want to think a little different about a winter up there.. ive never lived winter there but been through a few times..

then again im a guy that enjoys the florida heat. and my body just shakes violently when in the cold... everyone is different.

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Old 09-29-2017, 09:19 AM   #14
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I am with JD on this, I would not suggest anyone live in a bus around here in the winter. I have lived here (Butte and Anaconda) for 12 years, and yes when it hits 35 below 0 there is no escape. Even at 0 degrees its really miserable. I am driving 1200 miles tomorrow to get my bus moved to a warmer climate and closer to the land I bought, because It will be in storage over the winter unheated and I have seen the cold here buckle/split floors and crack walls in RVs and homes.

I have already seen 8" of snow this year and temps down to 19 degrees. The weather is pretty wild.

As far as I-15 it's a pretty hairy drive, there is a long grade going south of Helena that had my bus going 25MPH peddle to the metal and heating up (just north of boulder) and then of course you have cross the divide in Woodville. Not something I would do again.




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I was looking at taking the Biggie Bus to Helena - but I am concerned about hills - it's been about 20 years since I last drove out - but I am looking to move. I am curious how the bus will do - Not sure I could survive a winter in the bus in Helena... Any thoughts / suggestions?

I am looking to head out there in November - I know I should wait until April or May... but opportunities are knocking - and it is way too hot in Florida!
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:48 PM   #15
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I do remember bitter coldness there - I may have to rethink - and get an apartment until things warm up a bit - maybe by March / April - then build a heated barn I can park in!
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:39 AM   #16
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Just got back from the week long trip, what a wild ride, driving half way across the country in a 22 year old school bus is quite the experience a totally awesome one. Bus did not skip a beat or have an issue, orther then the grease in the front wheel bearing was contaminated with a tiny amount of water and starting to foaming. Toke 5 mins to swap out with new and was good for 900 more miles.

Engine did not burn a drop of oil or even go above 190 degrees the entire trip.

Denver was no problem rolled right on past at 60mph.

MPG was really impressive 11-12mpg.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:43 AM   #17
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Just got back from the week long trip, what a wild ride, driving half way across the country in a 22 year old school bus is quite the experience a totally awesome one.
Congratulations!!!
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:56 AM   #18
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Congratulations!!!


That is so awesome!! Way to go!


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Old 10-06-2017, 12:02 PM   #19
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super cool!!! I love road trip success stories!!!!!! i also love my long road trips in the busses too!!! now its time for you to plan the next adventure!
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