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Old 09-06-2014, 05:52 PM   #1
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RV travel -Calgary to Arizona in October?

We are new to snowbird travel and are planning to pull our travel trailer from Lethbridge to Arizona. Any advice re routing and when to depart would really be appreciated.

The route we're planning essentially involves following the I-15 through Montana, Idaho and Utah. We're thinking that we might head to Las Vegas first, and then over to Phoenix and then Tucson.

Concerning dates, we know that a consideration for us clearly has to be the six month maximum we're allowed, as Canadians, to be in the U.S. So if we leave early (mid September), this means returning in mid-March - probably not the best time to be traveling with a trailer.

So, advice would be appreciated concerning:

1. How late in the Fall we could leave Lethbridge and still have a reasonable chance of avoiding winter road conditions. (If we left in mid-October, what are the chances? We know there are no guarantees, and we're prepared to wait out occasional adverse conditions, but we'd like to at least increase the odds of good conditions along the way.)

2. To anyone who's had experience with I-15 any problematic points (elevation, weather, etc.) along the way? Any better alternatives to this route?

3. We've heard that Salt Lake City can get pretty congested. SHould we try to avoid this?

4. Even though longer, would it be better to head over to Las Vegas, and then down to Phoenix, versus, going though the mountains of Utah?

So, again our most pressing questions are WHEN to leave, and whether the I-15 is a good route.


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Old 09-06-2014, 10:34 PM   #2
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Hi, I have driven from Sedona to Calgary a couple of times, albeit not late in the year. I-15 is the road I travelled and found no problems at all. Once you get through Helena and over the mountains there, it should be plain sailing. Seeing as you're about three hours south of me I would think you could drive to Dillon, MT in one stretch. That would be my first stopover. There are a couple of good campgrounds there which remain open until late in October. From Dillon, I'd probably drive to Pocatello in southern Idaho and overnight there. Leaving in the morning will get you to Salt Lake City by around noon when the traffic is lighter. I-15 runs alongside/through SLC and is absolutely no problem.

When we drove from Sedona we joined I-15 at Cedar City, having travelled east of the Grand Canyon and through Page. Next time my preference would be to drive to Vegas and from there down to Phoenix. It might be slightly further in distance but I think it would be about the same time overall.

Leaving in mid to late October should be fine as you are traveling south towards better weather and a warmer climate. Just keep a close eye on the weather forecasts each day.

If your driving a gas fueled vehicle there are a number of Costco locations where it is the cheapest place to re-fuel. Helena, Pocatello, SLC (several just off I-15).

By leaving late in October it will mean you are not coming back north while we a still gripped by winter in March. You could stay south until mid April when the chance of freezing temps in Alberta has diminished slightly. I have to say I am very envious. We love Arizona. When I retire we plan to do exactly what you are about to do.

Have a great trip and send photos!

Richard & Diane
2014 Cedar Creek 38FL
With a F350 dually
2014 37 nights and far


Richard & Diane
2014 Cedar Creek 38FL
2016 F350 Lariat CC DRW
Retired Metropolitan Police (UK)
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Old 09-07-2014, 10:36 AM   #3
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Thanks very much for your comments and advice. Much appreciated. And yes, we certainly will be keeping an eye on the weather, as even now (early September) in southern Alberta, I see some flurries in the forecast. We're not keen on pulling our 34' trailer in snow.

Again, thanks!
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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I can only say that if you depart between Halloween and Thanksgiving you should be fine thru Idaho and Utah.

I would run I-15 without hesitation, those areas where snow may happen are well serviced and delay would be minimal, blowing and drifting snow cause visibility problems which is the main problem in that area.

Fuel stops and rest stops are plenty.
I would try and hit SLC between 9am and noon.
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