Driving from Northern CA to Vail, CO

jclee

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All: I am planning to driving from Northern California to Vail/Breckenridge this coming President's Week. Google map shows 3 possibilities:
1. I80 all the way to SLC, and then cut south via 15, to I70, and then to Colorado
2. I80 to Fernley, NV, and then switch to 50, cross NV and UT and join up with I70, and onto CO
3. Head south to Las Vegas, and then from Vegas take I15 up to UT where it joins up with I70, and onto CO.
Which way do you guys think is best? I drive a BMW wagon with AWD and winter tires by the way.
 

fatbob

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Depends if you wanna see anything en route. 3 isn't shortest I suspect but might enable you to dip thru Death Valley or Zion/ Bryce. Re 1 you don't need to take I15 all the way down - via Price to Green River is the standard Eastbound route from SLC
 
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jclee

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Thanks for the input. I won't have time to do any sightseeing- I'd rather just push through and get to Vail as quickly as possible. 50 looks to be the shortest but it is a two lane highway.
 

Tony

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I think the correct answer is it depends on where in No. CA you are leaving from and what the weather is when you will be driving and what time of day you will be crossing NV. If leaving from San Jose, go through Las Vegas for both the shortest and quickest route, and route least affected by weather. If leaving from San Francisco or Sacramento or N of these two cities, take I-80 if weather is bad. Consider US-50 across Nevada is weather is good and you will be crossing Nevada in daylight. I've never driven US-50 across NV, but know there are a lot of 7K'+ passes. If weather is really bad, even from N of San Jose, take the southern route and hope Techachapi Pass is not affected by snow.
 

luliski

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I've driven 50 from Fernley across Nevada. It's a cool drive, but it is known as "the loneliest highway." Gas stations are few and far between, and I wouldn't want to drive it by myself in bad weather.

There's not even much off 80 in Nevada once you get through Reno, but there are some casino towns along the way. There are also some mountain passes, and you can get some high winds. I don't think I'd want to drive between Elko, Nevada and SLC at night in bad weather.
 
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jclee

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I think the correct answer is it depends on where in No. CA you are leaving from and what the weather is when you will be driving and what time of day you will be crossing NV. If leaving from San Jose, go through Las Vegas for both the shortest and quickest route, and route least affected by weather. If leaving from San Francisco or Sacramento or N of these two cities, take I-80 if weather is bad. Consider US-50 across Nevada is weather is good and you will be crossing Nevada in daylight. I've never driven US-50 across NV, but know there are a lot of 7K'+ passes. If weather is really bad, even from N of San Jose, take the southern route and hope Techachapi Pass is not affected by snow.
Those are good points. I'm leaving from San Jose. Sounds like the Southern route is the best and least affected from weather. It looks much longer on the map, but surprisingly it's same distance as the nothern I80 route.
 

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We do that trip usually twice a year. 50 is actually a beautiful drive but us coming from Reno, we will usually take 80, down 15 to 6 to 70. Don't go much over the 80MPH posted limits..I have seen people get pulled over. With that said, on this lastr trip, the fastest driving was on 15 out of SLC, we had to go 90 jsut to stay in the flow of traffic.
 

Tricia

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We do that trip usually twice a year. 50 is actually a beautiful drive but us coming from Reno, we will usually take 80, down 15 to 6 to 70. Don't go much over the 80MPH posted limits..I have seen people get pulled over. With that said, on this lastr trip, the fastest driving was on 15 out of SLC, we had to go 90 jsut to stay in the flow of traffic.
And if you do this route, you can make a stop to ski in Utah. :D
 

Jack skis

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For some years I've driven I-15 twice a year (going and coming) through Utah and as far as I can tell the speed limit signs mean nothing. As Phil wrote just go with the flow of traffic, fast as it may be, or you'll be a rolling road block. Sorta fun driving that fast that long in a good car.
 

Andy Mink

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50 is gorgeous going through Utah. However, as noted above, there's not much out there in Nevada. I love the drive but if there is any weather it can be pretty dicey. 80 would be best in the winter. Reno, Fernley, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, plus a few others all have good services. I think the longest stretch with not much is Wendover in to SLC. Do watch your speed through towns. They are very serious about the drop in speed. With winter tires and AWD you should be fine.
 

Bill Miles

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I broke down in Battle Mountain once on my way to Tahoe. Getting a rental car while mine was being repaired was not easy.
 
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jclee

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50 is gorgeous going through Utah. However, as noted above, there's not much out there in Nevada. I love the drive but if there is any weather it can be pretty dicey. 80 would be best in the winter. Reno, Fernley, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, plus a few others all have good services. I think the longest stretch with not much is Wendover in to SLC. Do watch your speed through towns. They are very serious about the drop in speed. With winter tires and AWD you should be fine.
Yeah I bet 50 would be a nice drive when the weather is nice. But in the winter time it seems a bit risky. I've driven on I80 through NV/UT both in the winter and in the summer, and in both cases I ran into heavy snow storm (east of Wells ) and blinding rain storm (close to the Bonneville Salt Flats). I don't know if I was just unlucky or what.
 

skibum4ever

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Following.

We are currently in Mammoth and trying to determine our next move.

Salt Lake, Colorado, or Taos?

Drive at night or tomorrow morning???
 

Andy Mink

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I broke down in Battle Mountain once on my way to Tahoe. Getting a rental car while mine was being repaired was not easy.
Did you get an 80's era Chevy? Or a John Deere?
 

Andy Mink

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Following.

We are currently in Mammoth and trying to determine our next move.

Salt Lake, Colorado, or Taos?

Drive at night or tomorrow morning???
If you go to Taos you could stop and make some turns at Arizona Snowbowl. Flagstaff is on the way.
 

luliski

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Following.

We are currently in Mammoth and trying to determine our next move.

Salt Lake, Colorado, or Taos?

Drive at night or tomorrow morning???
If you decide to go to Utah and go diagonally across Nevada (we did this going from Tuolumne Meadows to Idaho: 6 to 376 to 305 to 80 in Battle Mountain). That stretch across Nevada was very desolate, but a nice road and drive. We did have to turn back as we passed Austin, NV and realized we probably weren't going to see another gas station for a while. I'd rather do that drive during the day.
 

Andy Mink

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If you decide to go to Utah and go diagonally across Nevada (we did this going from Tuolumne Meadows to Idaho: 6 to 376 to 305 to 80 in Battle Mountain). That stretch across Nevada was very desolate, but a nice road and drive. We did have to turn back as we passed Austin, NV and realized we probably weren't going to see another gas station for a while. I'd rather do that drive during the day.
You can take 395 to 6 to Tonopah to Ely, then 93 and alt93 to 80 in Wendover then to SLC. No doubt you want to grab fuel when you can. There's a long way between services on a lot of the highways in NV. 6 makes 50 (the Lonliest Road in America) look positively bustling.
 

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