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Old 09-25-2021, 04:21 PM   #1
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Arrow Route Planning Help: WA - PA in November 2021

Hello all!

I will have to take my RE300 + towed car from Washington state to Pennsylvania in November, unfortunately.

I'm looking for anyone with experience driving the various passes in the winter to try and find the *relative* easiest route without driving all the way south to I-40 or I-10.

We're OK stopping along the route to wait out weather, but we are definitely intested in a route that won't involve crazy downhills over hairpin curves.

I'm comforatable driving in snow...but I've only done mountains in cars, not busses towing a vehicle.

Any advice or tips appreciated!

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Old 09-25-2021, 09:59 PM   #2
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I-90 all the way. For a long trip like that, the shortest path is best. Plus, the interstate always has at least two lanes, so you can go as slow as you need to on the hills without having to pull out for faster traffic.

I don't have much experience with Snoqualmie, but Lookout and Homestake passes in Idaho/Montana shouldn't be bad in November. A blizzard is certainly possible, but truly nasty conditions are pretty rare that time of year. There may be snow on the shoulders, but the road itself is usually bare and dry pretty quickly after a storm.

Edit: some chains might be good insurance, but if it were me I'd just watch the weather report, take your time, and stop for a day if you're uncomfortable.
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Old 09-25-2021, 10:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejon7 View Post
I-90 all the way...
Cool! Thanks for the info!

Jeremy
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Old 09-26-2021, 12:59 AM   #4
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I think Tejon has it right.

No experience driving a bus through that route, but did I90 through the Rockies last year while moving my brother from Spokane to Kentucky. My brother drove a box truck(27'? w/ air brakes) towing his jeep on a trailer. I took his f250 with 16' trailer. We did it in the beginning of December so the the mountains had some snow/ice but we didn't hit any bad weather so the roads were decent. It wasn't too bad but I tended to take the downhills a little too fast in the F250 which had some white knuckle moments. I feel like the route was as safe as you could hope for given ok weather. My brother did fine as well even though the box truck was maxed out on weight. Definitely take a slow pace and i think your attitude of stopping to wait out the weather is very smart.

We left spokane around 7-8am so were into the Idaho /Montana mountains in the morning. There was a little ice on the roads in that area but I feel like if we hit it in the afternoon it'd be dry. So maybe try hitting the passes if possible mid day and not early/late to get the best driving conditions.
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Old 09-27-2021, 05:51 PM   #5
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Thanks very much for the info!

I figured we would be OK and right on the edge of the real winter weather. Nice to hear from a couple of folks who have driven most of the passes before.

Jeremy
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Old 09-27-2021, 06:16 PM   #6
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90 has some good hills!

i went to missoula this summer in my bus, towing, and did fine. the hills are steep and slow, but depending on your bus/experience, you should be ok.

i camped around missoula and met a couple who felt trapped there, mechanically. they had a ford 1/2 ton truck and towing a really heavy trailer (10k). his trans was slipping to much to chance leaving either direction on i90. he felt his only out was heading south down 93 to elko and pick up 80.

best way to climb hills with a 545 is slow and cool. turn on the flashers, pick a speed slow enough to downshift to 3rd and sit back and enjoy. the first time i climbed the continental divide at butte i did it full throttle (67mph) and got to the top in the mid 20s. second time, i slowed down, climbed at 45mph and got the the top at 45.
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Old 09-27-2021, 06:17 PM   #7
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Just take it easy on the downhills. I remember pulling a trailer over Lookout Pass on I90 in winter. The border from ID to MT is near the bottom of the pass heading down. ID uses deicer, MT does not. The road surface changed dramatically and there was about 30 seconds of puckering until I coasted into an easier pace.
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Old 09-27-2021, 06:18 PM   #8
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I found the mountain passes in I90 in Idaho between Spokane and Missoula to be very steep. Some of the steepest I drove on an interstate. but not too many hairpin turns.


Personally, I would cut though Oregon down to I80 and go that route through Wyoming over the mountains. Still big hills, but not as steep. The route on I80 through Idaho is fairly flat, and once you hit eastern Wyoming, it gets all flat and strait.
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Old 09-27-2021, 09:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Gnome View Post
I found the mountain passes in I90 in Idaho between Spokane and Missoula to be very steep. Some of the steepest I drove on an interstate. but not too many hairpin turns.


Personally, I would cut though Oregon down to I80 and go that route through Wyoming over the mountains. Still big hills, but not as steep. The route on I80 through Idaho is fairly flat, and once you hit eastern Wyoming, it gets all flat and strait.

I like I80 as well.
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Old 09-28-2021, 09:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejon7 View Post
if it were me I'd just watch the weather report, take your time, and stop for a day if you're uncomfortable.
I'll 2nd this.

Give yourself some time to work around the weather and you should have no issues.

I84 vs I90 is debatable. As long as your IH RE300 is in good shape, you shouldn't have to worry. Make sure the cooling system and brakes are up to snuff and neither interstate will be a problem. Go slow, take your time, and you'll be past the Rockies in no time.
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Old 09-28-2021, 09:58 AM   #11
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Huh, I just looked it up and didn't realize there's only a couple hour difference between I-90 and I-84/80. I thought it was a lot more.
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Old 10-04-2021, 12:07 AM   #12
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I90 to I80.

Hi,
Bring chains. I have had to chain up in October in Montana.
I drove to VA via I90 to Billings then dropped down to I80 until PA.
The initial grade on 84 just east of Pendelton is a real eye opener. I have had to chain up on that route too, but later in the year.
And the grade on 80 between Utah and Wyoming is interesting.

There has been mention of the AT545. Make sure the temperature gauge is working. Downshift anytime the temperature starts climbing.

After Lookout Pass I don't recall any serious grades. Until PA that is. Took the wrong exit and was on an 8% downgrade. 20 mph.

Try to hit Lookout Pass in daylight, easier than night.

Good luck, enjoy the trip.
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Old 10-04-2021, 12:13 AM   #13
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I90 to I80.

Hi,
Bring chains. I have had to chain up in October in Montana.
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Old 10-04-2021, 02:56 AM   #14
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I ran I-90 to Spokane one December no issues, then to the coast only delay was they were detonating Snoqualmie Pass overnight so the parking situation was dicey until the morning. Otherwise, biggest complications weren't on the interstates bit rather secondary state routes which are less attended by snow plows.

Not a lot of difference in mileage via I-84/80 versus I-90 so if you feel like winter driving is your Achilles heel maybe drop down there. I've run I-84/80 much more than I-90 and while both are going to have hills I don't recall anything on 80/84 that's particularly harrowing. The key to grades is this: watch your temps going up the hill and then be in the same gear going down that you went up to keep your speed on check. Use a controlled braking method that involves using your brakes to reduce speed 5-10mph below your maximum safe speed then release the brakes and allow the engine braking or back pressure effect to control the rate of acceleration while your brakes have time to cool which maintains control of your vehicle and minimizes brake fade. This method may cycle every 30 seconds to every couple of minutes depending on how steep the grade is.
Don't ride the brakes all the way down the hill.

If you take the I-84/80 route, once you get into the Midwest, if you want to avoid Chicago traffic and toll roads, take I-74 east out of Davenport/Moline. This will take you to Indianapolis and then I-70 goes all the way to PA. I guess depending on where in PA you're heading you can either continue on I-70 to the PA Turnpike (which becomes I-76) or if northern PA you can take I-71 out of Columbus, OH to Akron then I-76 to I-80 in Youngstown and east into northern PA. It seems a little counterintuitive until you look at it on a map and realize I-90 does a serious southward jog NW of Chicago to cut below Lake Michigan. You also save hundreds of dollars in tolls through IL, IN, and OH and probably save time avoiding traffic while only really adding perhaps 100 miles to your journey.
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Old 10-04-2021, 03:19 PM   #15
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You know, getting your tires siped will improve your traction on slick roads. Won't eliminate the need for chains for the worst conditions.
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Old 10-04-2021, 03:38 PM   #16
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I just found out about the "Mountain Directory for Truckers, RV, and Motorhome Drivers" (https://mountaindirectory.com)

Looks like it might be useful for planning trips like this. It's not too expensive, so I'll probably try it out sometime soon.
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Old 10-04-2021, 04:30 PM   #17
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I hope you have auxiliary brakes on your toad. You don't need a 2-3000 lb car pushing you down ANY hill. I-90 and I-80 use the same route from Chicago to almost Cleveland. From Illinois through Indiana and Ohio it's all toll road, so I suggest at Sioux Falls, SD going S on I-29 to I-80. At Davenport/Moline go SE on I-74 to Indianapolis and I-70. No tolls (Until Penna Turnpike)
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Old 10-04-2021, 08:32 PM   #18
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It's all been said for the most part.
I'd drop down to 80 as well.



NUMBER ONE SAFETY ITEM
Take your time and park it if conditions are iffy for your experience and gear



AFTER THAT
Climb appropriately for your rig and rigging
Watch your temps when climbing (engine and trans)
Descend in the same gar you went up OR LOWER.... NOTHING WRONG with going slower on the down. Lots wrong with going into the ditch.
CARRY CHAINS....that you have practiced installing!!!!!!!


Enjoy the trip and the extra stops.
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Old 10-06-2021, 11:15 PM   #19
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File under 'travel, general':
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We travel with full fresh-water, and empty sewage tanks.
Our propane is topped, and we have plenty to fix meals.
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Why?
We never know about weather, traffic, detours.
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And we prefer to caravan with folks heading to our destination.
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