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wenrob 10-27-2015 01:30 PM

Crossing the U.S. in winter
 
Hi All,
Does anyone have experience towing a small trailer across the country in winter? I have a 13' Burro and I'm thinking of going from Massachusetts to Southern CA to visit family for Thanksgiving. I would probably take one of the southern routes but I'm worried about crossing the Rockies. Any advice?

Wendy

Dennis mn 10-27-2015 02:38 PM

Each Febrary/March, we pack up the trailer and head south. I have driven that trip on packed snow, loose snow and ice covered roads. The only advise I can give you is "slow and deliberate, no quick moves". Crossing the Rockies, I would take the southern most interstate highway that makes sense to you! When I lived in Colorado, I found that you can expect anything in November. Good Luck!

Bob Miller 10-27-2015 02:39 PM

First, unless you have about a month to travel, don't.... That's a 6500 miles round trip via the southern routes, with at least 6 long days driving each way.


I have driven the northern routes in winter and that's an absolute DON'T DO IT. snow, wind and bad weather is the order of the day across the Rockies and the plains in winter.


I have driven the southern routes in winter as well, via Dallas and Phoenix, and that may avoid the worst of the bad weather, but it does occur in the form of rain, rain, and more rain.


Even at this late date, airfares are still apt to be less than gas and travel expenses.


I just looked and Alaska Airlines can get you from Boston to Los Angles for $400 round trip. Check on the "Low Fare Calendar" on their on-line booking page.




wenrob 10-27-2015 03:57 PM

Thanks Dennis and Bob for the advice. If I go I do plan to stay for several weeks, no deadline. But I want to drive and take the trailer, that would be part of the fun. Except getting stuck in the snow wouldn't definitely reduce the fun factor so I might wait until spring. Better safe than sorry!

Darwin Maring 10-27-2015 04:10 PM

Slick roads are a good reason to have Brakes on the camper. Brakes on the camper give you some level of control in keeping the camper behind the tow vehicle.

Dennis mn 10-27-2015 04:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darwin Maring (Post 555797)
Slick roads are a good reason to have Brakes on the camper. Brakes on the camper give you some level of control in keeping the camper behind the tow vehicle.

After crossing the Ozarks on ice, I had a guy with a large stickie fifth wheel tell me just the opposite! He said that you should disable the brakes on slippery roads. Ther was no way that I could convince him otherwise, I just hope that I never meet him on the road.

Jon in AZ 10-27-2015 04:57 PM

Crossing the U.S. in winter
 
With plenty of time, I think this is a reasonable trip. Now 89, my mother has made several wintertime trips from MD to AZ driving a small motorhome. She usually follows the I-10 route, more or less, with a detour down to the Big Bend area and a stopover for birdwatching in southeastern AZ. The Sonoran Desert is gorgeous in the winter. Gilbert Ray Campground near Tucson and Lost Dutchman State Park near Phoenix are great places to spend a couple of days. We'll be spending Thanksgiving at Lost Dutchman.

I'd want to make sure my schedule allows for extra days along the way to do some sightseeing and/or hunker down for a day or three while a storm blows through. Remember that days are shorter, and adjust your daily mileage so you don't have to drive past sunset. Your biggest challenge will be getting out of the Northeast between storms and into warmer climes.

John Linck 10-27-2015 05:14 PM

We journeyed from Wisconsin to Seattle in Feb of 14. We checked the weather first and chose I 80 instead of 90 to dodge a storm. Pavement was bare and dry til it got wet about 30 miles outside Seattle.

The driving makes for long days since its pretty cold and breezy over the plains and outdoor activities aren't much fun. But after 3 days we had a delightful six weeks on the West coast. We came home in April via a southern route with no trouble.

On the other hand Winters vary, it could have been worse. I would not want to tow far on snow.

John

Carol H 10-27-2015 05:18 PM

I have done the north to South - BC to Arizona and Calf. The biggest thing is while getting out of colder areas is you need to watch the highway reports and be willing to change plans accordingly or just park it and wait out a storm & the roads are clear again. I have been caught out in a snow storm a couple of times towing and its not fun.

Unless it is a real mild winter and you know the roads through the rockies are clear and are going to stay that way I personally would just head south and go across and avoid the rockies all together.

Glenn Baglo 10-27-2015 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dennis mn (Post 555803)
After crossing the Ozarks on ice, I had a guy with a large stickie fifth wheel tell me just the opposite! He said that you should disable the brakes on slippery roads. Ther was no way that I could convince him otherwise, I just hope that I never meet him on the road.

I suspect he didn't have the brake controller properly calibrated so the trailer wheels were locking up prematurely. So, in his experience, he would be correct, even when he was wrong. :omy

Dennis mn 10-27-2015 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo (Post 555815)
I suspect he didn't have the brake controller properly calibrated so the trailer wheels were locking up prematurely. So, in his experience, he would be correct, even when he was wrong. :omy

You are most likely correct! I reduced the calibration on mine to limit the braking to a minimum. I also have a Prododgy controller that is most excellent in bad conditions.

The one thing that I can guarantee is that driving on ice while pulling a trailer is one of the most unpleasant driving experiences that you can encounter.

Jon in AZ 10-27-2015 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John Linck (Post 555813)
...I would not want to tow far on snow.

I wouldn't even hitch up on snow. Or ice. But I'm from AZ, so what do I know! :sunny

Bob Miller 10-27-2015 05:33 PM

HA... AZ is not exempt from iced roads. I skied and ice skated all the way from the Grand Canyon South rim to Flagstaff one November.




Dennis mn 10-27-2015 05:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carol H (Post 555814)
I have done the north to South - BC to Arizona and Calf. The biggest thing is while getting out of colder areas is you need to watch the highway reports and be willing to change plans accordingly or just park it and wait out a storm & the roads are clear again. I have been caught out in a snow storm a couple of times towing and its not fun.

Unless it is a real mild winter and you know the roads through the rockies are clear and are going to stay that way I personally would just head south and go across and avoid the rockies all together.

Excellent advise. After my first trip south, when I didn't know that Missouri interstates were not salted when ice covered, I wait until the traffic has broken through the slick stuff.

honda03842 10-27-2015 06:08 PM

We've made that crossing a number of times, We stay south, sometime hugging the border. Our rule with snow has been to wait it out. We just don't drive when ie's snowing and wait for the roads to clear. Though it can snow south at the time of the year usually nothing significant or long term. The southern Rockies, particularly on the Interstates are usually not a problem.

Jon in AZ 10-27-2015 06:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Miller (Post 555820)
HA... AZ is not exempt from iced roads. I skied and ice skated all the way from the Grand Canyon South rim to Flagstaff one November.


You got me there! In fact, at 5300' in the White Mountains, we see some of it where I live. But not down in the low desert, which is why I'd recommend I-10 over I-40.

Stretcher 10-27-2015 06:29 PM

MA to CA in January
 
We towed a Scamp 19 from SE MA to LA in January 2014 and returned in March. We watched the weather for a couple day window to get out of the northeast and more or less followed I95 south to I10 and then pretty much followed it west to LA. We planned to be out for the winter so we seldom travelled over 300 miles per day and stopped for at least 2-nights at each stop. We spent quite a bit of time in TX and AZ. We drove 10,000 miles, about 8,000 with the trailer.
We encountered some sub-freezing weather in the Carolinas and in Big Bend, TX, but no snow until some flurries on our last day returning on I84 in NY.

wenrob 10-27-2015 06:59 PM

Wow, thanks everyone! I'm encouraged by the stories of successful winter travel. My trailer doesn't have brakes so that's not an option, and probably another good reason to avoid mountains. I was thinking of making my way to I-40 but going all the way down to I-10 is another good option. It would add about 500 miles, but could be a better bet anyhow. I won't be in a rush so I can take it easy if I do run into bad weather. One possible problem with either choice is that the last part involves CA-58 which was closed because of mud slides... if it's not one thing it's another!

Jack L 10-27-2015 07:35 PM

One more thing to consider,,,, Traveling on snow, ice or slush usually means also traveling on roads that have been sanded or salted and your trailer will get extremely dirty. I would avoid salted roads completely and I would plan on a major wash job when I got out of the snow.

stevebaz 10-27-2015 07:46 PM

Have you checked your axle to see if it has the square brake backing plate mount? If it does adding brakes would be relatively easy.


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