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Route and timing to avoid snow CA to Washington

Route and timing to avoid snow CA to Washington

Old Nov 23rd, 2019, 08:13 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,787
Route and timing to avoid snow CA to Washington

We are considering a driving trip that would take us from Palm Springs CA to Spokane WA (where we need to go for an appointment). I have questions about the best routing and stops and also the timing of the trip to avoid snow along the route. We can make the meeting in Spokane probably any time from early March to mid-April. Looking at google maps it looks like the best route to avoid snow might be to take a route that would take us to Las Vegas from Palm Springs and then straight north up towards Twin Falls and Boise area. The drive from Vegas to Twin Falls looks like it is 7h30 minutes. Is there a stopping place in between that is better-maybe Ely and then spend the next night in Twin Falls? We prefer to drive no more than 4-5 hours per day.

From Twin Falls, what route that is most likely to help us avoid snow? It looks like the alternatives are to use I-84 up to Kennick WA then connecting up to I-90, or option 2 is to take I-84 to just before Pendelton then cut East and north to the road that takes you through Walla Walla and on up to Spokane, or option 3, which is to take the 84 as far as Boise and then take highway 55 up through McCall and Lewiston. Which of these 3 routes might be best in order to avoid mountain and snow driving?

In general, is there a time where we can be more certain to avoid snow along the whole route? I know this is impossible to answer for any given year since weather any certain year could turn out to be especially snowy. But in general would it be better to time our trip after March 15th, April 1st, etc.? After Spokane we would have to drive back to our home in Seattle so any thoughts from folks who drive I-90 during early spring would also be appreciated. It has been many years since I have been over I-90 that time of year, but my recollection is that generally they are able to keep the passes pretty open from mid-March on if there are any snow issues.
jpie is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2019, 10:13 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Well, in the immortal words of Dirty Harry, do you feel lucky?

In general I wouldn't be overly concerned about any of those routes between PS and Spokane at that time of year. The countryside is quite dry for most of the way, so while it might get cold at night, I don't think you're going to be faced with snow that could disrupt driving. Famous last words, of course.

Do you have big time constraints on how long you can take for the drive? I'd be very tempted to make the drive in April, so that (if interested) you could spend a day poking around the Palouse between Walla Walla and Spokane, maybe including a visit to Palouse Falls. In the spring this area is stunning with rolling hills covered by young wheat, and Palouse Falls is something of an unknown gem. Google the places on this map - https://goo.gl/maps/qf2KQmoeBaCWVFj69

You shouldn't have any trouble between Spokane and Seattle. I-90 is well maintained in that time frame.

Palouse Falls

Palouse hills from Steptoe Butte

Gardyloo is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2019, 12:35 PM
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Thanks Gardyloo. As usual, lovely photos. So it sounds like the route that takes us up through Walla Walla would allow us to visit the falls, so that may be what we do. We won't have super big time constraints but will be leaving for Europe after we drive back from Spokane. We can't schedule all of that yet, but my goal is to leave us some time so maybe we start aour drive no earlier than the end of March and get to Spokane in early April. But we will see how this winter goes. I think you are NW based as well right? And I know they are predicting a snowy dry winter but of course we never know til we get there
jpie is offline  
Old Nov 23rd, 2019, 02:56 PM
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I can give you a route that doesn't go through Idaho or Nevada. It is longer but much more heavily traveled. I-10 west to get on I-5 all the way to Sacramento. Spend a night in Sacramento and then head north on I-5 as far as Weed. Take US 97 north all the way to Bend. (about 7 hours). From Bend take US 97 all the way to Biggs Jct. on the WA/OR border. Take I-84 east to tie in with I-82 and US 395 to get to I-90 west of Spokane. (6-7 hours depending on weather).
The tricky part might be between Weed and the Oregon border on US 97.
Your other option would be to let Amtrak do the driving. Get to Los Angeles Union station in the morning to take the Coast Starlight all the way to Portland (about 25 hours) (no hotel room).
The Empire Builder takes you from Portland to Spokane. The Empire Builder gets into Spokane sometime after 11PM but the Davenport Hotel is close by the Spokane train station.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Nov 24th, 2019, 10:42 AM
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Thanks for the OR alternative, although you are right that I might be concerned about the Weed portion or maybe even some of the areas around Bend.
jpie is offline  
Old Nov 25th, 2019, 09:32 PM
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I agree that Id do it in mid April. Partly because very early March is dicey on some of that route. And partly because the Palouse is beautiful in April.

but I do think youre unlikely to run into any snow. Anywhere, even on the pass. Freak weather can happen, but typically the snow is long gone by then.
marvelousmouse is offline  
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