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Old 03-19-2013, 08:21 PM   #1
rce
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Which Pass through US Rockies in late October?

Planning for a trip through Canada to Vancouver and then down the West Coast partways this fall. My question/fear is which Pass through the Rockies should I consider when returning to the prairies in late October? I'm concerned about road conditions. Probably thinking to Portland and a bit farther would be nice length of trip but could I get back across the Rockies easily in late October that far north? Or too late in the season? Farther south better and how far south realistically would be wise?

Pulling a 3000 lb Surveyor ultralight with a towing equiped F150, big engine, trailering transmission, so think I have sufficient truck for the trailer. It pulls it easily up prairie hills! (I know, not quite the same as a mountain pass)

Can anyone point us in the right direction (pun intended)? Or if there are clearly certain routes that would be too late in the year that would be helpful too.

Could maybe move the trip up a few weeks so returning early October.

Thanks for any advice/experience you can share!
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:25 PM   #2
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I80 does not get very high and should usually be a safe bet through early November.

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Old 03-19-2013, 08:37 PM   #3
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I80 does not get very high and should usually be a safe bet through early November.

Joel
That's good to know!

We were hoping to not have to go as far as San Francisco. Looks like not a whole lot of options between Portland and San Francisco?
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:08 PM   #4
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We came across 90 late Oct 2010 with no problem. Weather was great and the turning leaves were beautiful.

In 2008, we ran into snow between Salt Lake and Boise in mid Oct. I84 & 80 had been closed but roads were clear for us.

I do not think going further south (like 70) will change your odds much. You just have to watch the weather reports.

We like going east out of Portland on 84 to Boise. It is a pretty direct route to middle America.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:14 PM   #5
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I-80 probably has flatter grades; however, I have seen extreme winter conditions in Wyoming as early as the first week of October. The conditions can be exacerbated by high winds (it seems to always blow in the high plains of Wyoming). There is a lot of heavy truck traffic on this interstate and they do not slow down when the roads are icy - this is a little unnerving. As a matter of risk, it is probably safer to take this route late in the fall.

I-70 can be a beautiful drive in Colorado between Denver and Grand Junction. There are very steep and long grades going over the front range west of Denver. Which after Oct 1st, you could experience winter driving conditions.

If you are not in a hurry, you could probably wait out a storm that time of year on either interstate and let the roads clear.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:02 PM   #6
rce
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We came across 90 late Oct 2010 with no problem. Weather was great and the turning leaves were beautiful.

In 2008, we ran into snow between Salt Lake and Boise in mid Oct. I84 & 80 had been closed but roads were clear for us.

I do not think going further south (like 70) will change your odds much. You just have to watch the weather reports.

We like going east out of Portland on 84 to Boise. It is a pretty direct route to middle America.
Thank you!

So no big difference between between 84 from Portland or 90 from Seattle that time of year? Both likely passable but you never know?
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:11 PM   #7
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I have not driven the passes in the US but have gone through the Canadian passes late Oct. with no problem. If you are not in a big hurry if the weather gets bad just wait a day or two.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:27 PM   #8
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Looks like I-84 from Portland to Salt lake City and then I-80 East.

An F150 pulling a 3K # trailer will have no problem. Bring chains driving I-80 in late fall.

I-70 is further south and much steeper.

I-40 is out of Southern Cal and is about the same elevation as I-80

I-10 is further south in Socal and usually snow free but does get up to 4500 ft elev a couple places.

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Old 03-19-2013, 11:39 PM   #9
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I think either is a pretty safe bet that time of year. I agree that 84/80 might be a little flatter. On 90, you have Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades at 3000 feet then Montana Rockies plus the continental divide at 6,329. You have to cross is somewhere.

On 84, you have a pretty flat drive through the Cascades since you are following the Columbia River across Oregon. There mountain passes along the way. They just do not seem to ba as steep as some of the other alternatives.

Even if you go further south on I5, you need to cross the Syskiyou summit at 4,300 feet. That route can be nasty in the winter.
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:01 AM   #10
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Looks like I-84 from Portland to Salt lake City and then I-80 East.

An F150 pulling a 3K # trailer will have no problem. Bring chains driving I-80 in late fall.

.
Chains in October absolutely required? Or just good preventative medicine? (If you have them then for sure you won't need them)

Seriously, not so sure about chains. I think we'd just as soon wait out any bad weather than proceed if chains required.
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