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Old 02-29-2020, 01:03 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by MSFrancis View Post
I'd much rather learn how to conquer than drive around life's obstacles...
Exactly!

(1) Up and down, plan to blend in with trucks and take your time. Use lower gears and keep engine RPMs up when climbing or descending.

(2) Trailer brakes are essential. Have them checked and adjusted if that hasn’t been done recently. Know how to apply them manually without the vehicle brakes if you ever find yourself in a sway situation while descending. Wouldn't hurt to check the condition of tow vehicle brakes in advance of a major trip, too.

(3) Descend in a lower gear, letting the engine rev up to help control speed. General rule of thumb is to descend in the same gear and at the same speed you would climb the same grade. How to downshift depends on the vehicle. Some newer vehicles automatically sense a downgrade. Some older vehicles have a button to lock out overdrive gears when climbing or descending. Read your owner’s manual (both transmission and towing sections) for specific instructions that apply to your vehicle.

(4) Avoid prolonged application of the vehicle brakes when descending. When necessary, brake in short, firm bursts with time to cool in between rather than continuous light pressure. If you find yourself braking too much, you probably need to be in a lower gear, or pull over and take a break if that can be done safely.

As said, interstates generally have relatively moderate grades. There are some isolated grades over the 3-4% mentioned earlier (I-8 into San Diego is one in my region at 6%), but that's still doable in a properly rated tow vehicle. Avoiding big cities during rush hour is just common sense. Some routes have lots of toll roads, which can really add up with a trailer. Unless you have a particular destination in mind, adjust the settings on your your map app to avoid tolls.

Have a great trip! The Appalachian Mountains are beautiful, not to be missed. You’ve got this!
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Old 02-29-2020, 01:54 PM   #22
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% grade on interstates

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Originally Posted by Wayne Collins View Post
No need to fear those "hills" Interstate Hwys have maximum grades of 3 - 4 %
I am a prairie boy too, from Sask. But have learned to drive the steepest mountain roads. We pulled a 16 ft Scamp DLX with Honda Odyssey Vans.
Just learn how to downshift on the uphills, and downhills too to save your brakes. Unless you carry lots of heavy "stuff" the Caravan should just play with the 13 footer.
If you ever get to Duluth, MN you will find I-35 has a 6% grade! Also one of the worst interchanges in the country. You say yours is worse? Does it have a stoplight on it? This interchange is starting a three year rebuild to give more clearance and roads with less problems as the entire interchange is built on bridges. No, the 6% grade will remain.
Happy trails to all!
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Old 02-29-2020, 04:40 PM   #23
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I try to always avoid Chicago, Nashville, and Atlanta. Plenty of options there. I live in the mountains of NC. Most of my trips are to the western US, so I have tried many of the possible routes. I-40 through the mountains, TN border to about Waynesville, is a bit of a workout. Windy, twisty road, beautiful really. Best to do in the daylight. I've done it pulling my Escape 19, late at night, in the rain, lots of trucks, not fun! But it was the end of our trip, and time to get home.

Most of the time, I end up going through St Louis, you have to time that right to avoid rush hour. But its nothing like Chicago. I continue east on I-64 to Louisville, eventually catching I-75 south to Knoxville (thus avoiding Nashville). I take the outer loop around Knoxville to I-40 and on towards Asheville, NC.

That stretch of I-40 does not have steep grades, its just windy/twisty. Now if you go down I-26 from Johnson City, TN to Spartanburg, SC, there are some steep climbs. Mostly downhill going to Spartanburg, but heading back, its mostly uphill. Saluda Grade is pretty well known regionally. But if you take I-95 instead, you get hammered with NYC, Jersey Turnpike, Baltimore, Washington, DC. Migraine headache, lots of traffic, lots of tolls. And most toll roads really slam you with higher rates when you are towing a trailer.

If you go further east, +100 avoid NJ/NYC and take I-81 south to I-64 East. Note, I-81 has a few serious grades south of Wilkes Barre, PA.
We live in the Upstate area of SC. The Saluda Grade on I-26 can be intimidating. An alternative is to take Rt 25 from I-26 at Hendersonville, NC to Greenville, SC. From Greenville, SC take I-385 south towards Columbia,SC. This will bypass the Saluda Grade and Spartanburg. I-385 will connect with I-26 about 30 miles south of Greenville. Have a great time in Myrtle Beach.
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Old 02-29-2020, 06:44 PM   #24
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First of all, if you have been in the Rockies, the east coast mountains are just big hills. Next, I’d worry more about Chicago, I run to Indianapolis now and then and use the route pictured. Only one or two tolls. Depending on you start point , I29 or I35 to I80 may work for you. I was just in the South east last fall. Great trip and I got to see the “Birthplace of the Blues” in the Mississippi delta on the way home.

I think swinging through the UP of Michigan and down would be more scenic and then Chicago isn't a factor. Nothing against Wisconson, Ken!
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Old 03-02-2020, 06:36 PM   #25
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crossing mtns midwest to east coast

We live in western N.C. A couple of times we went west by going to Knoxville, Tn. North to Cincinnati, north straight through Michigan. Cross the Big Mac bridge and turn left. A nice scenic drive along the lake and your in Wisconsin. A little further but very nice way to go west. Just reverse to come south. Love the UP !
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Old 03-03-2020, 08:06 AM   #26
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no cliffs at the side of the road
I can sympathize with that. When I'm driving in the mountains and there is a steep drop-off on the passenger side, I feel like my vehicle is being sucked over the side. I get the same sensation going over a very high, very steep, narrow bridge. If it's 4 lane, I drive in the inner lane.

Plus I end up driving slower and slower. My doctor said GABA might help reduce the anxiety. One thing that helped me a little was to find a place that made me moderately uncomfortable and then driving through it several times until I no longer felt anxious.
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Old 03-03-2020, 09:31 PM   #27
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Guess what! You can use google maps to do a virtual drive of the whole route without being in your own car. They put cameras on vehicles and drive every major road in the USA and likely also in Canada. If it is designated as a highway they have probably filmed it. Not all the small backroads and streets but you will be surprised by how much of the country including a lot of neighborhoods can be seen using Google Maps and/or Google Earth.



I like to do a "walking" tour of the old European cities using Google Earth.
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:54 PM   #28
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I would totally take my time and drop down way south to avoid the western mountains. As someone else stated, the eastern mountains are just big hills....even Lookout Mountain.

Mon
From Winnipeg east there are no mountains south of CA. The only mountains are the Rockies to the west. East of Winnipeg in Canada there are mountains, but not in the U.S. All routes to SC are mountain cliffs free!
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:57 PM   #29
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How about staying in Canada and driving east to Niagara. Cross into New York on 90 East to 87 south then 95 south. Nasty traffic from NY city to DC but no mountains.

I go from Massachusetts to Florida and I get on 81 South in PA and then 64 east to 95 south. That cuts out New Jersey that I won't set foot in, and that Northeast corridor traffic. There are some hills though but I wouldn't call them mountains. You can pick up 81 South off of 90 in New York.
BAD advice. Lots of mountainous terrain compared to south of the Great Lakes.
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Old 03-07-2020, 08:20 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
First of all, if you have been in the Rockies, the east coast mountains are just big hills. Next, I’d worry more about Chicago, I run to Indianapolis now and then and use the route pictured. Only one or two tolls. Depending on you start point , I29 or I35 to I80 may work for you. I was just in the South east last fall. Great trip and I got to see the “Birthplace of the Blues” in the Mississippi delta on the way home.
OK, let me defend the east a bit as to "true" mountains.

Highest point east of the Rockies is in: New Hampshire? Vermont? West Virginia? Nope... Drum roll please.....

It's North Carolina, Mount Mitchell, which is off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I live in the mountains of North Carolina, about six miles from the Parkway. Yes, we have mountains here if your route takes you this way. Further east in NC is pretty much just hills.

Of course, unless you are taking a side trip to Mt Mitchell, you will not see that elevation. But still, you will be in the mountains in western NC. A lot of people when they think of NC they think of the coast, which is basically flat.

Saluda grade on I-26 is 7% and fairly long. Lots of trucks and RVs struggle with it. Heck, my Honda Element without a trailer behind it struggles with it...I-26 north of Asheville has a 6% grade.
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Old 03-07-2020, 08:44 AM   #31
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Mountains? What mountains?
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:11 AM   #32
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Take I70 east to I77 south to I64 E to I95 to Myrtle Beach is relatively flat, Stay off I95 north of Richmond as it is a parking lot all the way north to Rhode Island.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:38 AM   #33
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While I agree that the east coast mountains pale compared to those in the West, if grades are what you are concerned about, the steepest I've found on a state highway is PA 487 between Red Rock & Ricketts Glen State Park. Two miles of 18% grade. No edges to deal with, but a great test of tow vehicles, up or down.

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Old 03-07-2020, 11:25 AM   #34
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Some eastern roads were engineered and built a long time ago. Grades, camber, and many other design features are not always up to modern best practices. All bets are off when it comes to secondary roads.

Western mountain roads, including secondary routes, tend to be newer and better engineered. But there are still some steep grades and hairpin switchbacks.

If you stick to major interstates, though, you shouldn’t find anything unmanageable with a reasonably well-matched towed RV combination anywhere, east or west. Worst that might happen is you have to slow down and stay with the trucks in the right lane. IMO that’s where RVs belong anyway.

Surely there’s a map app out there that includes grades, curves, narrow lanes, and other pertinent information for large and heavy vehicles. Just wondering...

One of the scariest sections we drive regularly with the trailer is US 60 between Beaumont and Riverside in CA. Freeway speeds, steep, narrow, and curvy with sudden crosswinds, fast cars mingling with slow trucks...
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:21 PM   #35
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mountains

Ditto REDBARRON55: stay on the interstates. I tow a 13' Scamp with a Subaru Forrester and have negotiated the Sierras and Rockies up to 9000 feet with no problem. I only ran into a problem once when I got off the interstate--let me just say, avoid any 10% grades! I made it, somehow, but it was touch & go there, for a while, with a cliff on my right and a steep drop on my left--no room to turn around, heart & stomach in my mouth time.
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Old 03-07-2020, 03:01 PM   #36
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driving Through mountains

That's all we have through here. As long as you drive on the road ; steep cliffs are not a problem.
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Old 03-07-2020, 05:37 PM   #37
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I have travel many times over the Application Mountains. I pull a 13 ft. Scamp with a 2.5 Subura Outback. If You drive around 60 to 65 mph. it's a piece of cake. ( easy ) Not to bad on the car!! Just take Interstate #64....when You get to interstate #81 home free!
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Old 03-07-2020, 06:56 PM   #38
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Manatoba to Myrtle Beach SC

If you are more comfortable in Canada the route around Lake Superior then through Ontario to Niagara Falls would work. you then can stay west of the Catskills and east of the big city traffic - so don't get on Interstate 95 until south of the Virginia border.
Another option would be cross into the US in Minnesota and take US 2 to the Mackinac bridge then south on Interstate 75 where you can choose a place to turn east. Interstate 40 is - as others have stated - not anything like the western passes and is really very scenic.
Do plan enough time, there is lots more to see in the Carolinas.
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:08 AM   #39
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Plan for the steep descents in Western North Carolina. I-40 from Knoxville to Asheville has lots of down hill curves and the traffic pushes you to go too fast. Consider doing a reverse Daniel Boone and go through Cumberland Gap, then I-81 North to I-26 or other improved US highway. Parts of the WV turnpike is treacherous for towing.
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Old 03-08-2020, 07:46 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by ibupnorth View Post
I think swinging through the UP of Michigan and down would be more scenic and then Chicago isn't a factor. Nothing against Wisconson, Ken!
We live in Northern Wisconsin and when we travel East we prefer to go through the UP
Nice scenery , hardly any traffic , better roads and cheaper camping
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