smoothgrh
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June 6th, 2018 at 4:43:39 PM permalink
Hi!

How difficult is driving round-trip across Nevadaófrom Reno to Utah? (I've driven 8 hours from California to Oregon several times in my life.) With two pre-teens and a spouse who isn't fond of the desert, should I just drop the idea?

My destination would be Park City, Utah, and I see that from Reno it's:
2 hours, 22 minutes to Winnemucca
5 hours, 41 minutes to West Wendover
8 hours to Park City, Utah

I would probably stay a night in Reno, and I'm looking at when I would take breaksóthe drive to Winnemucca seems reasonable, but nearly 3.5 hours from Winnemucca to West Wendover seems like too much. Especially during the summer. Would Thanksgiving week be doable? Should I stay a night in West Wendover?

Thoughts? Experiences? Thanks!
FinsRule
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June 6th, 2018 at 4:47:11 PM permalink
I was nervous about the whole snow chains thing. Iíve never done that before.

We canceled our trip to Tahoe for unrelated reasons.

Edit - Maybe you donít go through mountains on that trip. Sorry.
beachbumbabs
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June 6th, 2018 at 5:29:48 PM permalink
Quote: FinsRule

I was nervous about the whole snow chains thing. Iíve never done that before.

We canceled our trip to Tahoe for unrelated reasons.

Edit - Maybe you donít go through mountains on that trip. Sorry.



Fwiw, snow chains are easy, cheap, and surprisingly effective. Used them constantly living in the Cascades. You just have to decide you're going to drive slowly while using them and it's very safe.
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PokerGrinder
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June 6th, 2018 at 5:32:16 PM permalink
Haha snow chains, you southerners are funny. I donít even have winter tires, I use all season.

As far as your route, Iíve done it. Very nice relaxing drive if the weather isnít bad.
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beachbumbabs
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June 6th, 2018 at 5:45:40 PM permalink
Quote: PokerGrinder

Haha snow chains, you southerners are funny. I donít even have winter tires, I use all season.

As far as your route, Iíve done it. Very nice relaxing drive if the weather isnít bad.



IDK about his route, but most passes in the Cascades have times when chains are required or they won't let you even try. The police make you stop, and they inspect your rig.

It's not a big deal to carry them. They go in a container about the size of 2 loaves of bread, they go on or off in less than 5 minutes.

But it ain't all about being South of the 49th, brah. You Winnipegians are Great Plains people. You don't know from mountains until the Canadian Rockies. 1558km west of you. I know for a fact you've driven the mountains, but living there? You have to have a plan.
If the House lost every hand, they wouldn't deal the game.
petroglyph
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June 6th, 2018 at 6:07:13 PM permalink
Quote: PokerGrinder

Haha snow chains, you southerners are funny. I donít even have winter tires, I use all season.

As far as your route, Iíve done it. Very nice relaxing drive if the weather isnít bad.

It's different snow
PokerGrinder
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June 6th, 2018 at 8:38:02 PM permalink
Iíve driven through the Canadian Rockies and the American Rockies. I drove through Colorado trying to outrun a massive blizzard. I managed to only go off the road once lol with no damage I might add. Iíve had plenty of snowy mountain driving especially when in Wyoming. Wyoming is the worst!
You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. ó Amarillo Slim Preston
gordonm888
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June 6th, 2018 at 9:10:04 PM permalink
I have driven that trip from Reno to Utah. It is boring but you can see for a long way in every direction. Speed limits on those Nevada roads are just a wink and a nod. A couple of small towns to pass through.

I am used to long-distance driving and so 8 hours is not a big deal to me. The only thing I would emphasize is don't drive a junker - you want a reliable car that will not break down. Otherwise, 8 hours could turn into 3 days.
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charliepatrick
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June 7th, 2018 at 3:10:16 AM permalink
I went from Reno along Interstate 80 (to W Wendover) on a casino chip hunt many years ago, so stopped at all the casinos en route. The driving bit was fairly boring. On the way back I came via Ely (Rte 93) then Fallon (Rte 50). Rte 50 was called the loneliest road ( https://unusualplaces.org/u-s-route-50-americas-loneliest-road/ ) and I hammered along at about 80mph.

Thus if you want an interesting trip I'd recommend using Rte 50 then Rte 93; it's longer but more scenic. However ensure you have a reliable car as there really are only a handful of villages on the bit West of Ely. Others will know whether it's better to stop of in Ely or W Wendover. Useless bit of info: W Wendover, even though it's in NV, is on Mountain time.

Sorry I don't know about the weather in winter, what roads are bad or where chains are needed.
Joeman
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June 7th, 2018 at 5:20:46 AM permalink
I've done the drive on US-50 from Reno to Utah, but not on I-80. I gotta think they keep the interstate highways in good shape unless there is a blizzard moving through. Not sure where you are starting from, but as far as winter road conditions, I'd be more concerned about the stretch of I-80 through the Sierras west of Reno.

As far as distance to drive in a day, personally, the ~6 hr drive to W. Wendover would be fine for me. Although, I can see that being a bit much for some, especially with the kids. If you want to get farther than Winnemuca, but not all the way to WW on day 1, you might consider stopping in Elko (~4h 15m).

EDIT: Smooth, if the drive is too far for the family to be comfortable, have you considered taking the train to SLC & renting a car there? Rail travel doesn't suit everyone, but I find it relaxing and enjoyable. Your family may enjoy it more than driving.

I just looked at Amtrak's website, and round trip RNO to SLC for 2 adults & 2 kids is as low as $282, depending on your travel dates.
Last edited by: Joeman on Jun 7, 2018
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discflicker
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June 7th, 2018 at 7:48:45 AM permalink
Quote: PokerGrinder

Iíve driven through the Canadian Rockies and the American Rockies. I drove through Colorado trying to outrun a massive blizzard. I managed to only go off the road once lol with no damage I might add. Iíve had plenty of snowy mountain driving especially when in Wyoming. Wyoming is the worst!



Driving I-80 West through a Wyoming blizzard once, the snow drifted over the road markers... imagine driving down a mountain and realizing that you have no idea where the road is!! I just followed a semi.

I-80 is really beautiful from Reno to Utah... you should have no worries about snow. Look at the map... it's at the top of a dozen or so N/S mountain ridges, but you're not going over the highest parts and you miss most of 'em. You start by driving down the Truckee River valley, zip across the 40-mile desert, and then cruise along The Humboldt River valley, taking the same route the 'ol 49-ers took. The geology is fascinating and there are lots of interesting stops along the way. There are casinos in every little town along the way, and especially when you hit Wendover at the Utah boarder. The road is very well marked and busy, so don't worry about being lost in desolation. If you get a CB radio you can hear the truckers jammin' about the road conditions. I have never used chains and have taken that route at least 6 times, no problem.

Wyoming was another story... my trans-axle broke in the frozen Wind-River range, and I had to spend 13 days stuck in the Winner's Casino in Winnemucca waiting for repairs. But that was back when the had a quarter craps table, and I played it the whole time with a dealer named Doug.
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FleaStiff
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June 7th, 2018 at 8:22:16 AM permalink
I used to have to deal with the Snoqualamie Pass just east of Seattle. Not much of climb but there were warning signs and micro radio stations. When it was a snow storm there would be a "chain up" area for vehicles that carried them to put them on and often there would be two or three guys out there doing if for you for five dollars. The rule was firmly enforced, if you didn't get chains on by some designated "X", you took the next exit and found a bar/restaurant/motel/truckstop/whatever.

I'd second the comment about 'no junkers'. People who live in those areas know how vehicles can get stranded. People who are merely driving thru those areas can wind up learning. Water, blankets, food, signaling equipment and more water.
beachbumbabs
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June 7th, 2018 at 8:44:20 AM permalink
Quote: FleaStiff

I used to have to deal with the Snoqualamie Pass just east of Seattle. Not much of climb but there were warning signs and micro radio stations. When it was a snow storm there would be a "chain up" area for vehicles that carried them to put them on and often there would be two or three guys out there doing if for you for five dollars. The rule was firmly enforced, if you didn't get chains on by some designated "X", you took the next exit and found a bar/restaurant/motel/truckstop/whatever.

I'd second the comment about 'no junkers'. People who live in those areas know how vehicles can get stranded. People who are merely driving thru those areas can wind up learning. Water, blankets, food, signaling equipment and more water.



Exactly. It was not optional. You used them, or you got turned back.
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Wizard
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June 7th, 2018 at 9:19:32 AM permalink
The road going up to Brian Head almost always has a "chains required" sign during ski season, but almost nobody puts them on. I've done that road lots of times in ski season without chains and nothing happened, although was a little nervous. I wish the department of transportation would say "recommended" when it was worth considering and saved "required" only when they really meant it.

Also, what exactly are "snow tires." The Lee Canyon road, up to Ski Las Vegas will often have a sign that says "chains or snow tires required." My mini SUV has some manly looking tires on it but I don't know if they count as "snow tires." I've never once heard someone say, "It's winter -- time to put the snow tires back on my car."
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Ibeatyouraces
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June 7th, 2018 at 9:26:49 AM permalink
Different tread types on the tires for various conditions.
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beachbumbabs
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June 7th, 2018 at 10:38:50 AM permalink
In the Great White North, snow tires USED to specifically mean steel studs embedded in the tread, slightly protruding. They damage the hell out of roads, so they were only allowed during certain months.

I'm guessing you can't even buy those any more, but I left the North in 1993.
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petroglyph
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June 7th, 2018 at 11:43:54 AM permalink
Quote: beachbumbabs

I'm guessing you can't even buy those any more, but I left the North in 1993.

Of course you can buy them. You can even have studs added if you desire more grab, or have lost to many. Never pull out the short ones.
billryan
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June 7th, 2018 at 11:53:52 AM permalink
In NY, it was pretty common to switch out your back tires for snow tires in December back in the 70s. Even as late as the late 1980s, a lot of rear wheel drive vehicles would switch. At some point, it seems advances in tires and the switch to front wheel drive pretty much eliminated the need for them in the down state area. Not sure what they do further north in the mountains.
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smoothgrh
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June 7th, 2018 at 12:58:15 PM permalink
Thanks for the responses, everyone!

The drive along Highway 80 is more mountainous than I realized, especially on the far west and east sides, it appears. I did a quick scan of Google Earth after everyone started talking about snow!

The train idea is also a good optionóthanks for checking that. I might pitch that plan! I do want to check out West Wendover, howeveróI got an offer years ago from the Peppermill for something really cheap, like $189 for round-trip flight and a three-night stay. Let me try to verify that.

I'm also thinking that if we do the drive, we could just stop at all the small towns. Our road trips usually have stops at only the major areas, but I think this kind of trip would be worthy of more exploration. Plus, we'd be in no hurry to get there, so that helps!
Last edited by: smoothgrh on Jun 7, 2018
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