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When is it safe to travel over the mountain passes?


Traveling Pockets

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Check road and weather conditions on the State web sites for the particular state you are going through. Have appropriate safety equipment and check on chain requirements for the states you are going through. Should be listed on the Dept. of Transportations road and weather web sites for that state. Check NOAA weather info. for the region.

 

Safe Travels

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Some of Wyoming and Montana mountains have already had snow. Yellowstone has seen snow. I try to stay out of the mountains a little after Labor Day as you never know.

Duraduk had the best advice if you have to go into the mountains so will not belabor it.

If possible the best bet is to only travel in the mountains during the summer.

 

Just my two cents

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As long as you stick to the Interstates, which will be kept clear of snow, you shouldn't have any problems. You may have to lay over for a day or so in the case of a storm blowing through waiting for the Interstates to be cleared, so allow a few extra days just in case.

 

Frankly, at this time of year, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Even if the passes get some snow, it probably won't last a long time.

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Somewhat depends on your timing and the route you choose. As long as you're planning this trip in the next month or so and sticking to major hiways, it shouldn't be a problem. Any storms you cross this early in the season will be short and the sun will be back out in a day or two. So keep a close watch on the weather forecasts and be prepared to spend a day or two waiting for a storm to pass, before heading up any high pass.

When I had a summer home in the Black Hills of SD I never left there until the end of Oct and never hit any snow except one year going west over the Big Horn Mtns in Wy. But it was just an inch or two and didn't last long. Each year is slightly different. Most years I was still in shorts & T shirts the end of Oct in the high country.

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Be sure to watch the weather reports. You do have internet access don't you? Either with smart phone of with a computer.

 

Also every state has a road condition report website. Make use of those. Do a search using the state name and DOT and road conditions.

 

As others have said, the interstates usually are kept open. Even after a snow storm they may have ice and snow for a few or several days, but after a while they should be free of snow and ice.

 

Just be sure you leave time to stay put for a few to several days while you wait out the weather.

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I am planning on heading to SD from OR. There are mountain passes on the way. It is late in the year right now, when is it safe to travel the passes? I don't want to get stuck...Any thoughts??

Get a copy of Mountain Driving West for pass information - or download it to your smart phone. Allstays Campgrounds also gives pass information. You don't say where in Oregon you are, but if in western OR you have the Cascades and Rockies as the two major mountain ranges to get over. Since you're headed to SD, easiest way would be to head north to Spokane and pick up I-90 and head east. Easy drive if you are doing it now. In another month, drop down and do I-80 across. Rockies aren't any harder to cross than the Cascades.

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As long as you stick to the Interstates, which will be kept clear of snow, you shouldn't have any problems. You may have to lay over for a day or so in the case of a storm blowing through waiting for the Interstates to be cleared, so allow a few extra days just in case.

If you watch weather conditions, you can easily make your trip on dry roads, just be patient if weather goes sour and wait it out.

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X2 for all above. If you're concerned at all.. stick to the interstates and allow a couple of days into your travel plans. Like Jim.. I don't really sweat any of the interstates or expect any significant delays until November.

 

If you'll be returning to the West.. you might pick up traction gear/chains from a Les Schwab tire store. If unused they can be returned at the end of the season for the full purchase price. A little piece of mind never hurts.

 

The rest is common sense. Carry water, top off your fuel tanks before making a Mt. pass, etc.

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Great advice above. Here in Colorado chain laws go into effect September 1st and they do not just effect commercial vehicles. When we leave out for heading south it is generally after that date. Fortunately we alternate routes that do no include any passes, although at least pass makes the trip much shorter.

 

Most states and almost all of them in the west are part of the 511 system for road information.

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