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RE: ALASKA! Driving from California to Anchorage...

Travel to Alaska has had a lot of discussion on the Canada/Alaska board. Due to pandemic boarder restrictions there has been much of in the recent years, but older threads should mostly be applicable. I just a video about by a Youtuber who drove to Tofino to pickup a campertop last summer. She had quite a time getting timely negative covid tests. Other than that her travels sound like ones I've done in the past decade. SW BC had major highway damages in Nov/Dec, so you should check highway conditions (DriveBC). The freeway from Vancouver north (hwy 5) may still have restrictions this spring. And Hwy may also have slow spots. While I've seen season highway closures on Google Maps, I don't think they adjust travel times for winder conditions. In urban areas and well traveled routes current time estimates take realtime traffic into account, but they don't try to project those times into the future. In the past the Mileposts book has been the go-to guide book for driving to Alaska. It was up dated yearly, though mainly that affected the ads for tourist attractions and some services. Open fuel stops vary with the year and season. Looking at Google Maps, it offers 2 alternatives with about the same time and distance. Average speed is 53 mph. The westerly one, through Seattle takes Hwy 99 north from Vancouver. This is a mountainous route with 14% grades, but currently it is the only way north that is open to all traffic. And right now it will be quite snowy. For a fast freeway segment look at Sacramento to Olympyia, average speed about 63 mph. On the other hand, Hwy 99, Vancouver to Cache Creek has a 43 mph estimated speed. The core of the Alaska Hwy, Dawson Creek to Whitehorse is estimated at 54 mph. Whitehorse to Tok is rated at that, but that stretch is notorious for its frost heaves, which in May could be extra bad, and slow you down to 40 (esp. with a trailer). An alternate route that Google doesn't show, is somewhat longer, but I suspect overall easier goes further east. I5 north to Shasta, then US97 through Oregon and WA. It becomes BC97. Stay on that through Kelowna and Kamloops. This bypasses the damaged BC highways, and the big cities. Then Hwy 5 to 16, and job east through Jasper. Catch the Alaska Hwy at Dawson Creek. The main alternative to the Alaska Hwy is the Cassiar, BC37. That's somewhat newer (as a fully paved route), and more remote wilderness. While distances are pretty accurate, travel times are estimates, highly dependent on what speeds are assigned to particular stretches. Some travel apps let you specify speeds, others you just have to work with what they choose. My impression is that GM takes road type (freeway, hwy, street etc) into account, as well as a terrain (grades, curves). But I take such estimates with caution.
paulj 01/11/22 05:54pm Roads and Routes
RE: Route 160 in Colorado

"hairpin turns and severe switchbacks" are not as common as you might fear, at least not on US numbered highways. There are some state roads in California with "king pin" or total length restrictions, and one dirt road in Utah with tight turns. Otherwise even the tightest loops on paved highways are no sharper than a freeway cloverleaf or city intersection. Wolf Creek Pass is the only thing that might give you problems, and there it will be the grades - up or down - not the tightness of the turns. Disclosure - to me a 'severe switchback' is something that will require a 3 point turn, something you might have to do to turn around in the middle of your home street. Something that you can drive a 15-20 mph is not a severe switchback.
paulj 01/07/22 04:33pm Roads and Routes
RE: East Glacier to Vancouver BC - help with route

From East Glacier, US2 back to Browning and 464 to Babb is best. 49 has a steep sharp climb over a ridge, and 89 to St Marys is curvy and hilly. 89 to 2 and north is the flattest route. 17 to 6 goes to Waterton, which is supposed to be as scenic as Glacier. But the border crossing is smaller and may have limited hours. 6 and 22 run closer to the Rockies front range. In a car, 541 and 40 is my preferred route to Canmore, since it runs through Kananaskis Country, where the mountain views rival Banff. There's good Provincial camping here. But 40 is the highest paved pass in Alberta, and closed to traffic in early summer. Last time I drove the area, I stayed in the parks to Jasper, and tooks 16 and 5 into BC. The main route to BC is Hwy 1 from Lake Louise over Kicking Horse Pass into Yoho. From the east the climb to the pass is minor, but the drop to the west is long. Also I've seen videos of construction work along the highway where it passes through a canyon near Golden. 93 to Radium Hotsprings in a good alternative. Grades are somewhat less and views still good. The final drop to the town, roughly starting the hot springs may be the steepest and narrowest. Pay attention to your brakes. Hwy 1 through the other Glacier NP is scenic - a major route with good pull offs. When I crossed the other way, we stopped for short hikes about 4 times. If taking the Radium route, use 93/95 to get to 3. If needed at this point you could easily cross back into the USA and take its route(s) across the Cascades. 3 has its highest pass west of Creston. Beyond that it can feel like a roller coaster, up and down all the way to Hope. A while back I saw an article about a truck mountain driving school based somewhere along this highway. It was the least damaged of the routes to Vancouver, and I think, at the moment, the only one open to all traffic. Apparently commercial traffic has been taking 5A from Merritt to Princeton to get to 3, and that's been causing traffic problems and accidents. My favorite part of 3 is where it passes through Manning Prov Park. That has good camping, hiking, and a mountain climb for your toad. 5 Merritt to Hope is just opening to commercial traffic, with many temporary patches. Who knows when that will be open to general traffic. 1 through the Fraser canyon used to be the main route to Vancouver. It too was damaged. They are still working on a couple of major bridge fixes. Check https://www.flickr.com/photos/tranbc/ for repair work photos. The first time I crossed BC I took the northern route, though Lillooet and Whistler. Then it was still a gravel logging road, now it's paved, but still high with steep grades. It's open now to essential traffic with winter driving conditions being the main concern. DriveBC is the main road information site. Keep an eye on conditions there, and don't be afraid to detour into the USA if needed. WA20 has mountain and lake views to rival BC (and gets a lot of discussion here).
paulj 12/20/21 10:14am Roads and Routes
RE: Best route from Salem, OR to Houston, TX

The immediate climb east of Salem will be, I think the longest and steepest you'll encounter. If you continue east on 20 to I80 you'll be at the high desert level until SLC without significant passes. Winds will more of an issue on I80 across Wyoming. Or turn SE to NM.
paulj 12/12/21 10:37am Roads and Routes
RE: Jackson, WY to Brookings, OR

138 from 97 is a long straight climb to the Diamond Lake area. That will be open, but the road south to Crater Lake probably will still be snow bound. 138 continues down the west side, with a number of nice waterfalls, and since it follows a river some curves. 42 to Bandon is one of the lower passes to the coast.
paulj 11/16/21 05:39pm Roads and Routes
RE: Indian Reservations

At the peak of the pandemic, some reservations tried to restrict access, but had some conflicts with the covid-denying state governors. I mainly remember news items about this from South Dakota. The Blackfoot Nation web site notes Despite loosened COVID-19 restrictions by the state of Montana, the Blackfeet Nation is still exercising caution https://www.hcn.org/articles/indigenous-affairs-covid19-tribes-defend-themselves-against-a-pandemic-and-south-dakotas-state-government https://www.travelsouthdakota.com/sites/default/files/2020-07/southdakotadepartmentoftourism_tribalcheckpoints_07292020.pdf The check points probably don't exist now, but tribes might still expect masks and social distancing beyond what the state expects.
paulj 11/12/21 01:44pm Roads and Routes
RE: Coming out of Eugene OR to St. George UT ?????????

Lakeview claims to be the highest town in Oregon. I suspect you'll be at the 4000+ altitude all the way south.
paulj 10/30/21 09:51am Roads and Routes
RE: Best Route from Rock Springs, Wy to Yellowstone

West Yellowstone is the easiest entry point, both in terms of approachs from south and north, and access to the main attractions, but that's bit out of your way. South entrance from Grand Tetons is also reasonable. The east entrance via Cody climbs more. Read up on roads in the park. It is a effectively a volcanic mountain top, with a 7000 ft lake in the middle. Some roads are easy, others more difficult. Approaches are only part of the drive.
paulj 10/14/21 08:11pm Roads and Routes
RE: Great River Road

You don't have to stick to one side or the other. The shore varies as you go north. I lived in Chicago, and visited relatives in Minneapolis, and often preferred the river north of I90 to taking I94. Even rode that part on a bike trip between the cities. In Illinois the best views and access to the river are at Mississippi Palisades State Park. Galena is away from the river, but has tourism charm based on historic lead mining. From there I don't know if trying to stay close to the river is worth the effort or not. SW Wisconsin, even as far east as New Glarus, might more interesting. You can drive down to lower Wisconsin River to its mouth, and resume the Mississippi drive. WI 35 stays along the river to La Crosse. The west side also looks close, though it might be a lesser quality road. US61 is a major road on the west side until Red Wing. On the east, 35 is next to the river where it can, but heads inland where necessary. Here its enough of a valley, that grades in/out can be significant. From Hastings you aren't close to the river until you get to St Paul.
paulj 10/04/21 05:26pm Roads and Routes
RE: Lemhi Pass, Idaho

My impression from videos and comments is that driving up the Montana side is easier than the Idaho. It's not as steep, and relatively open, basically a ranch road that climbs. Still only you can judge whats safe for your RV. I haven't driven it. Last time through the area I camped near Salmon (BLM) and crossed over Lost Trail Pass. This was early June, and we actually got snow flurries at the top. I checked out the road to the east that goes past a battlefield memorial site, but decided I didn't have time to go all the way.
paulj 10/04/21 09:42am Roads and Routes
RE: Figuring Mileages

I'd try to figure out what was different in the routes, between what planned on Google and what you drove. If the routes were actually the same I'd expect miles to be the same, or at least close. Then I'd try to tweak the google route to match the driven. That's easy. I often explore alternative routes, not just the ones the GM suggests. For long distance drives, I find I really have to take major detours to change the mileage significantly (more, say than an hour's drive). Matching times may be harder, since that depends not only on distance, but on estimated speed, which may vary with the road condition. In fact I use time vs distance to judge whether one route has slower roads than another - e.g. freeway or not, curvy or not, mountain or not. Speed estimates though are always rougher. Garmin also has some online mapping tools. I've only dabbled in those, since the only Garmin I have is a watch.
paulj 09/27/21 01:10am Roads and Routes
RE: Hwy 93 from Missoula to Salmon, ID.

Those aren't switchbacks, just 20 mph signed curves. The radius isn't any tighter than a freeway cloverleaf. On google maps, look at the Streetview.
paulj 09/21/21 09:00pm Roads and Routes
RE: Moki Dugway

paulj 09/20/21 12:21pm Roads and Routes
RE: Moki Dugway

... As for the washout posted above, this may be the problem. Yes, with that stretch of 95 closed, there isn't any other way across the Colorado between Moab and Page. When I drove the Dugway years ago I used the Halls Crossing ferry. I was hoping to take Burr Trail, but due to recent rains had go around via Capitol Reef (a nice enough drive).
paulj 09/20/21 12:20pm Roads and Routes
RE: Moki Dugway

I'm sure there are videos of the road as well as Google Streetview. It's been a while since I drove it (in a cuteute), but I don't recall anything particularly nasty about it. There are 'switchbacks' but they don't require 3 point turns (at least not for cars). Ultimately you have to judge whether your truck and trailer can handle the grade, some gravel, and the turns. There was a recent thread about a washout that threatened and closed a bridge on UT 95 between the 261 turn off and Blanding. Google maps traffic says that stretch is closed until Oct 29. Reviewing streetview, it looks like the topmost hairpin is the tightest, the one labeled as 'view of the valley of the gods'. I imagine a 18 wheeler would require skill, but a competent RV owner can handle it as well as most suburban street or cul de sac turns. https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/documents/files/Utah_BENM_Valley-Of_Gods_Brochure.pdf https://vanlifewanderer.com/2021/06/12/is-moki-dugway-safe/
paulj 09/20/21 12:49am Roads and Routes
RE: Route from Billings to St Mary KOA East Glacier

While road construction can make a stretch of road slow and rough, I don't expect routes in this part of the country to change that much over the years. I drove this route nearly 20 years ago. I generally followed a diagonal on the paper map. US89 north of US12 crosses a mountain range (colored as National Forest) that was pleasant, but might not be optimal for a RV seeking flat land. But most of the route is wide open high prairie. US89 Great Falls to Browning was fine, generally flat and straight. However after Browning it gets into the foothills and becomes more windy and up/down. At the end of full day that was tiring, even in an easy driving SUV. Other posters have recommended Duck Lake Rd, MT 464, as flatter and straighter. That said, I vaguely recall posts talking about road work on 89, so it might now be a better drive. Google Maps streetview gives good details on roads, though I see all the images in this part of Montana date from 2008. But the sat images are new. Also look at Terrain mode to get idea of the grades. Google Maps 'live-traffic' may also flag (major) construction. State DOT also has construction information.
paulj 09/11/21 05:04pm Roads and Routes
RE: Long Beach, WA to Spokane

Whatever you do avoid I90 like a blank wall in a hospital.... Kind of hard to approach Spokane from the W/SW without using I90. We could direct them further north and take US2 across the Cascades and eastern Washington. Better yet take WA20 across :)
paulj 08/29/21 10:11pm Roads and Routes
RE: Astoria,OR to Florence OR

...Watch for bicycles as they will always appear in the worst spot. ... ah, yes, those long distance touring cyclists, who just wait to pop out and ride down the shoulder whenever an RV with extra-wide mirrors comes around the corner :( Maybe this stretch needs the kind of 'cyclist-ahead' warning lights the put on some tunnels. OR a `sharrow` road marking. Cyclists don't like busy roads with narrow shoulders any more than RVs do.
paulj 08/29/21 06:41pm Roads and Routes
RE: 26 through Portland

But yet they allow them over Cornelius Pass Road. Can't fix stupid. Tunnels have HazMat restrictions because fires are especially hazardous in tunnels, and hard to fight. It's not that crashes are anymore likely. Trucks hauling hazardous materials should use the safest available highway routes. Safe routes are those where accidents are less likely to occur, and where the consequences will be less severe if accidents occur. Some tunnels have fire suppression systems, and may allow HazMat loads, though that's still determined at a local level. Apparently there's some debate whether the systems in the I70 tunnels west of Denver are enough. Fire damage, even if suppressed relatively quickly, could be as disruptive as the recent landslides.
paulj 08/26/21 04:42pm Roads and Routes
RE: Tunnels, bridges & hair pin turns

All states post the locations where there are clearance problems as they want truckers to have this information. ... It took a bit of digging to find this: https://sdtruckinfo.sd.gov/docs/Vertical_Clear_List.pdf The Custer State Park map shows the same tunnel information, plus widths.
paulj 08/22/21 05:40pm Roads and Routes
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