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Old Jun 5, 12, 7:43 am   #1
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Driving a U-Haul Colorado Springs to Seattle, which route?

I may have occasion to drive a 14' or 16' U-Haul-type truck from Colorado Springs to Seattle....

I'm wondering which route is best.... The less time having to traverse cities, the better. And I am assuming that a truck will not have stellar performance climbing up mountain passes, so that's a consideration too. Haven't driven one of these beasts in a long time so, again, staying out of heavy city traffic as much as possible is a good thing.

Mr. Google suggests four possible routes, each more or less the same amount of time:

1. I-25 north through Denver to Cheyenne, then west on I-80 to Ogden, and then northwest.

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sou...938354&t=m&z=8

2. I-25 all the way north to Sheridan, and then west on I-90

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sou...&t=m&z=5&via=1

3. West out of Colorado Springs on U.S. 24 (cutting the corner on Denver) up to Breckenridge, I-70 west to Green River, northwest on U.S. 6 to Orem/I-15, thence onwards

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sou...&t=m&z=5&via=1

4. South out of Colorado Springs to Canon City, then west on U.S. 50 through the Arkansas River canyon, then U.S. 50 all the way to Grand Junction, thence per #3.

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sou...e=UTF8&t=m&z=7

Leaving Colorado Springs in the morning, the traffic to Denver and then through Denver can be nasty and crowded (so that affects #1&2), but then it looks like no bad city traffic the rest of the way? Taking route #3 avoids the Denver problem, but means Salt Lake City traffic (although I think that would probably be mid-day) Route #4 also avoids the Denver issue but the Arkansas River canyon can be both beautiful and challenging, and I don't know what the rest of the U.S. route to Montrose/Grand Junction is like.

I also don't know which route has the fewest high mountain passes. I have looked on actual paper map and I know that there is a high pass west of Denver on I-70 and just before Breckenridge if taking route #3 but have never driven anything north of Cheyenne or Salt Lake City.

So, what wisdom do you have to offer. I'm guessing this can be done in 3 long driving days, and since it's just me I'd probably look for well-rated-on-Trip-Advisor local cheap motels along the way (since I know that prices for less adventuresome lodging soars in the summer months in the west).

Last edited by cblaisd; Jun 5, 12 at 3:29 pm. Reason: Can't count
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Old Jun 5, 12, 10:22 am   #2
 
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If you go to Cheyenne and turn west (#1), it's flat, ugly, and VERY windy - not great in a truck. The portion of #1 in southern Idaho along the Snake River is also flat and featureless. The least scenic of the lot, but perhaps the one with the least steep grade.

As for #2, you'll encounter some mountainous terrain in the Missoula-Kellog-Coeur d'Alene portion, but not as steep or as spread out as portions west of Denver. Pretty country, most of it.

About #3 - you'll start out going up for a long way, then down into a mountain basin, then up, up, up again, then you stay up for a long while, gently descending. This takes you close to Breckenridge ski resort.

Heading SW from CSprings to Canon City (#4) is mostly 2-lane. Not much steep grade (a very relative term, but you have no high passes like Wolf Creek Pass) except between Salida and Gunnison, near Monarch Mtn. ski resort. A scenic drive.

I went to HS in CSprings many years ago, used to ski in either Monarch or Breckenridge (these were the cheapest decent slopes for a day trip). I've also lived in SLC and Boise, and have driven all these routes at least once (many times on some), at least as far as eastern WA.

Based on your criteria, I'd opt for #2. #1 has the least steep grade, but you'll be worn out fighting to keep a big box on the road in high winds. It's also least scenic.

As for lodging, it's abundant but pricey along route #3. You'll find less options, but at lower price along #1, #2, and #4. #2 may be cheapest, as it isn't in resort areas in CO or UT (though Kellog and Coeur d'Alene can get full of visitors in summer).

Good luck. You'll see some wonderful scenery, no matter which you pick.
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Old Jun 5, 12, 12:00 pm   #3
 
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You'll be climbing big mountains no matter which way you go.

#2 is no picnic in a U-Haul. On I-90 between Bozeman and Butte there are some pretty big passes to climb. From Missoula to just inside Idaho there's a fair amount of climbing as well. Lookout pass, which is on the ID/MT border is the biggest. Then in Idaho you have 2 passes to Coeur D'alene that are a little less severe but still a lot of elevation change. From CDA you're done with mountains for about 250 miles until you hit Snoqualmie.

I'd say #2 is the most scenic as well, but I'm biased since I live on that route

You might encounter some traffic in Spokane depending on the time of day. But even at its worst Spokane traffic isn't too bad, relative to Denver, LA, Seattle, etc.
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Old Jun 5, 12, 3:33 pm   #4
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...I'd say #2 is the most scenic as well, but I'm biased since I live on that route
So, given my criteria, that's the route you'd suggest too?
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Old Jun 5, 12, 3:44 pm   #5
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I too would recommend Option no. 2. Wyoming up to Sheridan can be a bit tedious, but after that the route is pretty entertaining. Don't miss the Little Bighorn battlefield site east of Billings.

I'd probably overnight in Sheridan and either Butte or Missoula, which would break it up into three 7- to 8-hour days. Sheridan is a fun little town, a bit touristy (Buffalo Bill and all that) but with a decent selection of lodging and food.

The next evening I would definitely plan on stopping at the Land of Magic for a steak dinner in Logan, a wide spot between Bozeman and Butte. Best roadfood steak I've ever had, commemorated in a trip report here. It makes it worth choosing this route all by itself.

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Old Jun 6, 12, 3:27 pm   #6
 
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So, given my criteria, that's the route you'd suggest too?
Yep.

When are you planning on doing this btw?
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Old Jun 7, 12, 2:44 pm   #7
 
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As someone that had driven that route several times (though not in a u-haull), here are my 2 cents:

factors to consider:
day/time will you start?
how modern is your U-haul?
summer/fall/winter?

As stated in previous posts, you will cross mtns no matter what. If you are going during the summer, it will be prime road construction season so more delays can be expected. I found that out going to Yellowstone 2 summers ago. I would advise you to go north from COS on I-25 through Denver to Cheyenne, then west. Sure it can be windy but its only 5 hours across and it is more windy in the winter vs summer. Take the I-84 bypass and come out at Ogden and connecting with I-15. You pick up I-84 again an hour or two out of Odgen. Follow I-84 through Northern Utah, Southern Idaho, and Eastern Oregon. Near Hermiston Oregon, take I-82 north to Yakima and connect with I-90 for the remaining part of your trip. I have done the trip in 2 very long days (then again, it wasn't in a u-haul). If not entirely rushed for time, I would overnight in Evanston Wy, Baker City Or and drive the remaining portion on the 3rd day. That makes it for 3 regular days of driving. Stock up on CDs or find a way to play an iPod. There are some lonely stretches of the highway and radio stations are few and far apart.
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Old Jun 9, 12, 1:40 pm   #8
 
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I would say route 1 or 2. SLC traffic isn't that bad if you hit it mid day. And to be honest, I have even been in it during rush hour and it wasn't bad either. With route 1, fair warning, when you see the signs saying "no gas for 100 miles" they are not kidding. Some people say it is a boring route, but I think it is good to do once just to appreciate the vast openness. But that is just my opinion and yes, I have done is several times. The other commenter was right though - if you do go this way, you could and most likely will, run into some seriously strong winds at some point.

#2 is a very pretty route as well, but you will have some huge passes, as mentioned.

Good luck. I drove from KS to Seattle a couple of times, so I know how much fun you are about to have!
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Old Jun 9, 12, 1:47 pm   #9
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I appreciate all the good advice....

Am leaning toward #1, leaving at noon (packing truck in morning), and driving to Rawlins, WY (not sure I could make Green River/Rock Springs. There's a MUCH nicer option for decent hotel in Green River for not that much more than an slightly worrisome place in Rawlins ).

Day number two, I'm intrigued by a couple of the mom-and-pop motels listed at Glenns Ferry, Idaho as a second-night stay. (Just wish that the route didn't bypass the most northern Salt Lake City In-N-Out Burger )

I'd probably spend a third night somewhere around Ellensburg WA and then have just 2-3 hours for the final morning.

A little leisurely, I know, but the days in which I would routinely drive 700 miles in a day and think little of it are long past....
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Old Jun 10, 12, 10:43 pm   #10
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A related question.... For those who have driven both, is there a lot of difference between driving a 10' and 16' truck?

Given the price for motels on I-80 in Wyoming (gas boom?), I'm now leaning toward #3
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Old Jun 11, 12, 11:26 am   #11
 
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Originally Posted by cblaisd View Post
A related question.... For those who have driven both, is there a lot of difference between driving a 10' and 16' truck?

Given the price for motels on I-80 in Wyoming (gas boom?), I'm now leaning toward #3
I would think a couple of differences are that the longer truck could be harder to manuever (backing up, pulling into spaces, etc) just because of the length. I would expect weighs more as well so could take longer to stop. I once drove a larger U-Haul towing a truck from CA to OH. It was entirely on freeways and took a while to get used to.

As for your route choice, there is no way I would take a u-haul on mtns roads like Hwy 24/9 in CO unless I absolutely had to. Keeping it on the freeway would be best (in my opinion). Besides, gas prices are higher in those mtn towns. As for route 1, if you go an extra 100 miles or so to Rock Springs hotel prices are cheaper (more selection). It would be worth driving the extra 2 hours or so for a savings of 25-35%.
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Old Jun 11, 12, 5:03 pm   #12
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As for your route choice, there is no way I would take a u-haul on mtns roads like Hwy 24/9 in CO unless I absolutely had to. Keeping it on the freeway would be best (in my opinion).
Just spoke with someone who drives Breckenridge to Colorado Springs twice a week. He STRONGLY concurs with your point of view and says that there are some very windy spots and with no extra climbing lanes. He said even going west of Denver the climb to Eisenhower Tunnel is relatively shallow grade and there are extra lanes.

Quote:
Besides, gas prices are higher in those mtn towns. As for route 1, if you go an extra 100 miles or so to Rock Springs hotel prices are cheaper (more selection). It would be worth driving the extra 2 hours or so for a savings of 25-35%.
You're right about that. $79 versus $129 for a decent HHonors property. I wish I knew better a) what time I can pull out of town (I'm hoping by noon, or even earlier), and b) whether I want to try to pull all the way to Rock Springs/Green River after having loaded and being uncertain of departure time (313 miles versus 435)
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Old Jun 17, 12, 7:31 pm   #13
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A friend who is a professional trucker suggests route #1 - except he suggests taking US 287 from Ft. Collins to Laramie to avoid a pass between Laramie and Cheyenne. Have others done this. Thoughts?
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Old Jun 17, 12, 9:03 pm   #14
 
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A friend who is a professional trucker suggests route #1 - except he suggests taking US 287 from Ft. Collins to Laramie to avoid a pass between Laramie and Cheyenne. Have others done this. Thoughts?
I've driven that route (though only in cars) -- it's a good quality roadway, mostly 2-lane with climbing lanes on hills, and a scenic drive. However, the crosswinds can be brutal, and I'd definitely check the weather forecast before taking a truck up that way. In good conditions it's comparable to or faster than the I-25/80 route.

There's a long, steady hill climb leaving Ft. Collins to the north. I don't know whether it's a significant improvement over the Laramie-Cheyenne pass in terms of elevation.
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Old Jun 17, 12, 9:07 pm   #15
 
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A friend who is a professional trucker suggests route #1 - except he suggests taking US 287 from Ft. Collins to Laramie to avoid a pass between Laramie and Cheyenne. Have others done this. Thoughts?
The pass (in my opinion) isn't much. It is a kind of a long steep decline into Laramie but otherwise you don't notice the pass. Plus, then you wouldnt get to see the Abe Lincoln sculpture at the pass/rest area. The distance via 287 is about 15 miles shorter. However, you use up all that time going through Ft Collins and if you arent familiar with the route, I can see it being confusing (I didn't think it was well marked). Also, using 287 puts you closer to the Hay Creek Fire and all the smoke from it. Depending on when you come through, that is another thing to consider. While the fire is basically west of town, it is impacting traffic all through town. Depending on the wind flow, we even get the fire smoke down in Denver (70 miles away).
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