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robertwild

Driving The Lincoln Highway From Salt Lake To Sanfrancisco

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Hi all,

 

Having read this board I find I really would like to drive the Lincoln Highway from Salt Lake City to San Francisico. Since I don't live in the U.S and have already booked to go to Yellowstone National Park at the begining of January 2009 this trip would have to follow on from this, ie. start in the second week of Jan.

 

The problem I have is attaining information on weather for that time of year - my missus thinks we'll get stuck in snow and freeze to death like in a film we've seen recently. I presume I'm going to need to hire 4x4 but even then will some of those roads be navigable?

 

Cheers Rob.

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Hi all,

 

Having read this board I find I really would like to drive the Lincoln Highway from Salt Lake City to San Francisico. Since I don't live in the U.S and have already booked to go to Yellowstone National Park at the begining of January 2009 this trip would have to follow on from this, ie. start in the second week of Jan.

 

The problem I have is attaining information on weather for that time of year - my missus thinks we'll get stuck in snow and freeze to death like in a film we've seen recently. I presume I'm going to need to hire 4x4 but even then will some of those roads be navigable?

 

Cheers Rob.

 

This is a journey that I have given some thought to and am undecided on whether I would give it a try.

 

It will all depend on the weather but it may be possible as long as you are cautious. First a 4x4, chains and the tools necessary to dig yourself out if you get stuck are a must. I would also be packing cold weather survival gear but if your are coming from Yellowstone I would assume that you already have the necessary long johns and such.

 

The risk you run through the Salt Lake desert is the potential for wet conditions that might cause you to get stuck in the mud or salt flats. However, I don't believe that it would be much of a problem unless you decided to get off of the graded gravel roadway. Of course, if it is a really wet year and the once dry lakebed is now an actual lake that could be a problem.

 

Between Callao and Ely you cross two mountain ranges on dirt roads with the potential for snow or ice. Although, given the desert climate I would not expect the snow to be to deep. The area between Eightmile and Tippets was slippery during the summertime but it may be frozen at that time of year.

 

West of Ely should be no problem as long as you stay on the US 50 hardtop but there is always the potential for road closures West of Lake Tahoe if there is a storm passing through.

 

Before you go study the map carefully and give consideration to bailout points either north or south where you could go around a closed mountain pass or head quickly back to civilization. I did the journey between Salt Lake and Ely in a single day, during the summer, starting at the break of dawn and it was dark when we arrived in Ely. There are no services along the way so you would be committing to either sleeping in the car or driving in the dark. I would assume that your progress would be slower than ours was where our typical speed was 35-45 mph.

 

There is another option which is to follow the final alignment of the Lincoln on I-80 to Wendover, South on US 93 to Ely, and then West on 50. Probably a safer option at that time of year.

 

Roadhound

 

 

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Rob,

 

I have driven much of the Lincoln Highway Roadhound describes, also in the summer, but I have also driven many dirt roads in the high desert west (Nevada, Oregon, Washington) in the winter.

 

I am going to be the “bad” guy here and suggest you stay off them, and find another route. Let me explain my view and experiences so you can decide for yourself.

 

The high desert country is sunny and cold in the winter, which means you will encounter snow in the shadows and mud in the sun. In fact it may be dry and dusty, frozen, muddy, and snow covered, all within a mile! That is a miserable combination. You can easily sink down to your frame and undercarriage in the mud, and the road can turn from frozen to bottomless mud in 100 feet.

 

Even if you manage to make the trip, you will probably tear up the road. And if you are not an experienced 4WD driver, you can easily get into some dangerous or at least seriously uncomfortable situations, all the more so if you are traveling in one vehicle. I’m talking here about sliding off roads into ditches, or getting hopelessly mired five or ten miles from help.

 

I have had to hike miles across muddy fields to wake up a ranch foreman for help, and I have had to save my Land Cruiser from going off a cliffside road using logs along the down side….all because I went out in the winter on western high desert dirt roads.

 

I would take Roadhound’s closing advice and follow the Lincoln from Salt Lake to Wendover, then down to Ely and across to SF. It is beautiful, well worth the trip, much of it is unspoiled, full of history (Pony Express, etc) and paved.

 

We will give you as much advice as you want!!! But I strongly suggest you save the remote dirt roads for summer.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

PS. Oh, it just occured to me. I am not aware that any of the major auto rental places (Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc) will rent a 4WD to be taken on remote dirt roads. Maybe there is someone who will, but the contracts I've seen specifically prohibit it.

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Rob,

 

I have driven much of the Lincoln Highway Roadhound describes, also in the summer, but I have also driven many dirt roads in the high desert west (Nevada, Oregon, Washington) in the winter.

 

I am going to be the “bad” guy here and suggest you stay off them, and find another route. Let me explain my view and experiences so you can decide for yourself.

 

The high desert country is sunny and cold in the winter, which means you will encounter snow in the shadows and mud in the sun. In fact it may be dry and dusty, frozen, muddy, and snow covered, all within a mile! That is a miserable combination. You can easily sink down to your frame and undercarriage in the mud, and the road can turn from frozen to bottomless mud in 100 feet.

 

Even if you manage to make the trip, you will probably tear up the road. And if you are not an experienced 4WD driver, you can easily get into some dangerous or at least seriously uncomfortable situations, all the more so if you are traveling in one vehicle. I’m talking here about sliding off roads into ditches, or getting hopelessly mired five or ten miles from help.

 

I have had to hike miles across muddy fields to wake up a ranch foreman for help, and I have had to save my Land Cruiser from going off a cliffside road using logs along the down side….all because I went out in the winter on western high desert dirt roads.

 

I would take Roadhound’s closing advice and follow the Lincoln from Salt Lake to Wendover, then down to Ely and across to SF. It is beautiful, well worth the trip, much of it is unspoiled, full of history (Pony Express, etc) and paved.

 

We will give you as much advice as you want!!! But I strongly suggest you save the remote dirt roads for summer.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

PS. Oh, it just occured to me. I am not aware that any of the major auto rental places (Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc) will rent a 4WD to be taken on remote dirt roads. Maybe there is someone who will, but the contracts I've seen specifically prohibit it.

 

Thanks for chiming in Keep. My experience on desert high country dirt roads in the winter can be counted on, well it can't be counted because I don't have any. Although, It would be spectacular to see in the late winter and early spring I bet. The more I think about it though you are absolutely right, it shouldn't be attempted in the winter months by the unexperienced.

 

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Thanks for chiming in Keep. My experience on desert high country dirt roads in the winter can be counted on, well it can't be counted because I don't have any. Although, It would be spectacular to see in the late winter and early spring I bet. The more I think about it though you are absolutely right, it shouldn't be attempted in the winter months by the unexperienced.

 

Rick,

 

I felt bad “downing” a winter trip along the dirt sections of the Lincoln Highway in Utah and Nevada, and maybe some locals will correct me. Ely has an active group which I could probably put Rob in contact with if he wanted a local opinion.

 

But I recall in June a few years ago the folks in Ely saying that the road to Ibapah was finally passable. But I have never been along it in the winter, so I claim only limited expertise....and hardly that!

 

I would ere on the side of caution, especially with only one vehicle. There is a lot to enjoy on the paved sections of the Lincoln, and a lot less risk in January. Incidentally, all the 4WD’s I have rented are equipped with all season tires, not mud or snow tires (maybe that is different of you rent the car in snow country).

 

Anyway, your suggestion was excellent and if Rob wants advice, he has a pro in you.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

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PS. Oh, it just occured to me. I am not aware that any of the major auto rental places (Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc) will rent a 4WD to be taken on remote dirt roads. Maybe there is someone who will, but the contracts I've seen specifically prohibit it.

 

Five years ago (August '03) I rented an AWD Mitsubishi Outlander from Alamo in Las Vegas specifically to visit the remote but spectacular Toroweap Overlook on the northwestern rim of Grand Canyon National Park in AZ. This trip involved about 60 miles of dirt road from just west of Fredonia AZ down to the overlook and a similar distance back along a different series of dirt roads to Colorado City Az/Hilldale UT (yes, Warren Jeffs' little fiefdom). While this was summer, so snow and ice was not a concern, it was monsoon season so there were muddy spots from the previous day's thunderstorms. I left my motel in Mt. Carmel Jct. UT right at sunrise so as to avoid the increasing chance of monsoon thunderstorms as the afternoon progresses.

The trip was well worth it, as the solitude and sheer wildness of the Grand Canyon from the Toroweap Overlook (only a few other people and NO railings!) is beyond belief!

Anyway, Alamo didn't ask me where I was going, and I didn't tell them! The little Mitsu performed flawlessly and I brought it back to the lot at McCarran in Vegas absolutely covered in red dust!

 

Mike

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Rick,

 

I felt bad “downing” a winter trip along the dirt sections of the Lincoln Highway in Utah and Nevada, and maybe some locals will correct me. Ely has an active group which I could probably put Rob in contact with if he wanted a local opinion.

 

But I recall in June a few years ago the folks in Ely saying that the road to Ibapah was finally passable. But I have never been along it in the winter, so I claim only limited expertise....and hardly that!

 

I would ere on the side of caution, especially with only one vehicle. There is a lot to enjoy on the paved sections of the Lincoln, and a lot less risk in January. Incidentally, all the 4WD’s I have rented are equipped with all season tires, not mud or snow tires (maybe that is different of you rent the car in snow country).

 

Anyway, your suggestion was excellent and if Rob wants advice, he has a pro in you.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

 

Hi all,

 

Much appreciate the advice given here. I didn't realise there were conditions like you describe anywhere in the states. I live in Africa but I have to really go out of my way to get myself into country like that. So anyway call me a wimp but I think I'll take the advice and stick to the paved sections.

 

Thanks to some other info I've picked up on this board I've got two books on their way to me one is Brian Butko's Greetings from the Lincoln Hightway and the other The Lincoln Highway: Coast to coast by M. Wallis. Does anyone know if there are maps included in either of these that I would be able to use for the trip. If not, any ideas where I could get one?

 

Many thanks Rob.

 

 

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Hi all,

 

Much appreciate the advice given here. I didn't realise there were conditions like you describe anywhere in the states. I live in Africa but I have to really go out of my way to get myself into country like that. So anyway call me a wimp but I think I'll take the advice and stick to the paved sections.

 

Thanks to some other info I've picked up on this board I've got two books on their way to me one is Brian Butko's Greetings from the Lincoln Hightway and the other The Lincoln Highway: Coast to coast by M. Wallis. Does anyone know if there are maps included in either of these that I would be able to use for the trip. If not, any ideas where I could get one?

 

Many thanks Rob.

 

Mike,

 

I admit to the same “misdemeanor”…… and I have wondered what the rental folks would do if they caught me on some dirt road…..take the SUV away? But I thought for the sake of full disclosure I would point it out. It is in the fine print in the rental contracts I have seen.

 

I enjoy the back roads of the west, and the dirt sections of the Lincoln in Utah and eastern Nevada certainly aren’t the most remote. And the real “danger” to life and limb is limited…..but for my money it doesn’t make sense to undertake that kind of winter trip in one vehicle.

 

Rob,

 

Did you say Wimp? I’d say you are being prudent! I have been angrily scorned and shouted at by ranchers for being a damn fool because I was stuck in mud, and tearing up their road besides…..and that is a lot worse than being prudent.

 

And did I hear maps….OMG! My middle name is Maps!

 

One man’s map is another’s fly swatter, so let me offer a few suggestions. I am reasonably confident that the Lincoln Highway Association now has the full highway on a CD….at least that was their plan. I would contact them.

 

I use Gregory Franzwa’s outstanding books when I’m looking for mapped details of the Lincoln Highway described year by year. If anything, the maps may be too detailed, and his descriptions are excellent. For outstanding roadside descriptions (points of interest, artifacts, etc), that include good directions and general maps, I use Brian Butko’s book. For old alignments, etc I use my vintage maps and books collection.

 

Your purpose and expectations in taking the Lincoln have a lot to do with what kind of material will be useful. If you are an “alignments and old bridges” guy you will approach the road much differently than if you are interested in history (eg pony express, overland stage, mining, Native Americans, etc). And if you are looking for tourist highlights, places that cater to re-creations and have entertainment for the kids, it is yet another story.

 

You have on this forum Ypsi Slim, Lincoln Highway Association VP, and several folks who have traveled the sections you will travel, so among us we should be able to fill your tank with advice.

 

What kind of travel interests motivate you to take the Father Road?

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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You have on this forum Ypsi Slim, Lincoln Highway Association VP, and several folks who have traveled the sections you will travel, so among us we should be able to fill your tank with advice.

 

What kind of travel interests motivate you to take the Father Road?

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

Keep fails to mention that there is a fee for this advice...We get to hear all about your journey :lol:

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Thanks to some other info I've picked up on this board I've got two books on their way to me one is Brian Butko's Greetings from the Lincoln Hightway and the other The Lincoln Highway: Coast to coast by M. Wallis. Does anyone know if there are maps included in either of these that I would be able to use for the trip. If not, any ideas where I could get one?

"Greetings..." does include overview maps for each state plus more detailed maps for some areas. The text includes directions so the book really can be used as a guide although not in the glance-at-it-while-you-drive trip-tik manner. Study it the night before or when you pull over for a break (or to figure out just where you missed that turn). There are no maps in the Wallis & Williams book. It does give directions to some of the attractions but not all. What is does contain is some wonderful stories and great photographs. KtSotR mentions Gregory Franzwa’s books and nothing beats them for detail. My impression is that they may be overkill for your purpose. KtSotR also mentions the Lincoln Highway Association's CD. This could really be a good thing but I've not seen it or seen a review of it. It requires DeLorme's Street Atlas program and is available here.

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KtSotR also mentions the Lincoln Highway Association's CD. This could really be a good thing but I've not seen it or seen a review of it. It requires DeLorme's Street Atlas program and is available here.

 

As usual, Denny is spot on.

 

I am confident that the Lincoln Highway CD is good, and as an overlay to Delorme's Street Atlas, it would almost certainly be a good inverstment. I personally use Delorme's TOPO USA 7.0 instead of their Street Atlas USA, but one or the other is an indispensable travel tool.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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As usual, Denny is spot on.

 

I am confident that the Lincoln Highway CD is good, and as an overlay to Delorme's Street Atlas, it would almost certainly be a good inverstment. I personally use Delorme's TOPO USA 7.0 instead of their Street Atlas USA, but one or the other is an indispensable travel tool.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

Once again thanks for all the great advice. I'm eager for the books to arrive and indeed the trip to begin - it's sounds fascinating. I'm sure I'll have something to tell you all when I get back, hopefully something you didn't already know - not easy though I fear. What I can tell you is that my missis loves you lot for convincing me to stick to the paved roads. One can not rule out a small diversion onto the rough though can one?

 

Cheers Rob.

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One should never rule out a small diversion on to the rough! jim

 

Jim,

 

How right you are! I'm thinking if Rob does the paved Lincoln Highway road from SLC to Ely and beyond, he could detour into Gold Hill (also featured on the PBS show). The dirt road might well be maintained in winter as a few folks live in Gold Hill. And it is a near classic ghost town. Besides, the University of Michigan has contempory (vintage) photos taken in the teens and 1920's of Gold Hill that Rob could photograph for some classic Then and Nows

 

Keep the thoughts coming and Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

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Jim,

 

How right you are! I'm thinking if Rob does the paved Lincoln Highway road from SLC to Ely and beyond, he could detour into Gold Hill (also featured on the PBS show). The dirt road might well be maintained in winter as a few folks live in Gold Hill. And it is a near classic ghost town. Besides, the University of Michigan has contempory (vintage) photos taken in the teens and 1920's of Gold Hill that Rob could photograph for some classic Then and Nows

 

Keep the thoughts coming and Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

Ibapah can be reached off of US 93 via Ibapah Rd. and I can validate that it is paved at least 15 miles north of Ibapah, Gold Hill road connects to Ibapah Road in 2 places and the southernmost road was well graded in the summertime. In the winter you would have to make a judgement call. Gold Hill had occupants when I went through there and with the price of metals staying high I would assume that people are still there digging for gold. There are a couple of landmarks to be seen in Ibapah and a nice monument with panels for the Pony Express, Overland Trail, and the Lincoln Highway. There is a Pony Express obelisk south of Ibapah near Eightmile.

 

Of course, you would need to double back to US 93 to continue your journey but if you have the time it might be a pleasant diversion.

 

Roadhound

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