I am finally catching up on blog posts and wanted to share some details about our time in Utah. We spent March and April 2017 in Heber City, Utah, for the final clinical rotation of physical therapy school, and we fell in love with the land and adventure! Utah has so much to offer, and it is nicknamed The Adventure State. It hosts abundant hiking and biking trails, varying scenery in different regions of the state, several recreation areas, and SIX national parks!
At the end of February, we left Brandon, Mississippi and headed to the West for a few months of cool weather and new surroundings. This was also our first time pulling our rig across the country. We learned very very quickly about the logistics of RV life from the luxury of nice roads to the hazards of traffic and wind.
Our route took us 1,757 miles through Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado (we took a side vacation to visit some friends), Wyoming, and finally to our temporary home base of Utah. We learned that you will be bumping and weaving on the roads through Louisiana, but we had good practice after driving in Jackson, MS, for so long. Texas has amazing roads – interstate and local highway – but AVOID DALLAS at all costs! There was a reason we were the ONLY RV on the road through Dallas…the construction caused a ton of traffic and tight squeezes that can cause white knuckles for even an experienced driver. I’m truly surprised we made it through without scratches or dents on our new home. Then it was smooth
sailing driving to our mini-vacation in Colorado. We spent 3 nights in Golden and visited with friends, explored an empty Red Rocks Amphitheater, and had craft beer alongside great food. The fun (and wind) really picked up in Wyoming when a winter decision took us up and around the snowy mountains instead of through them. However, we probably would have been better off taking I-70W straight across Colorful Colorado instead of through the plains of Wyoming. Again, the learning curve to RV travel taught us that the I-80 corridor between Cheyenne, WY, and Rawlins, WY, is the windiest 150 miles in the country with the highest rate of high profile vehicle blowovers. And we are high profile (not in the good VIP kind of way either!) We inched along the interstate in 50+ mph winds before deciding it was just too dangerous and nerve-racking. We pulled off at a rest area in Elk Mountain where we met another RV-er (and some truckers who were not too happy about our decision to drive this road) and waited out the wind for 5 hours. When the wind let off enough to drive a little further, we made it to a truck stop at Rawlins to spend the night. The next day, we were able to make it to Heber City, Utah, and were so relieved and happy to have successfully completed our first cross-country journey.
What we learned:
- Maximum safe speed (for us) pulling a 37′ fifth wheel is between 65 and 70 mph depending on road conditions.
- Be prepared to quickly adapt to driving conditions (rain, snow, wind) and anticipate other drivers’ actions. Most people and truckers will be respectful of your rig, but there are some who just don’t have time to be behind you or any other slower vehicle.
- Avoid large cities at all costs…it will be worth the extra hour of travel to make it past the city with calm nerves and dry palms.
- Bumps are extra-bumpy when hauling an RV because the trailer reacts after the truck, so slow down and be mindful of bridges and sectioned asphalt.
- Add 2-3 hours of travel time to your GPS route, meaning that an 8 hour trip will actually take you 10-11 hours. This is usually due to slower driving speeds (estimated travel time takes speed limits into account) and the need to stop more frequently to refuel (every 250 miles for us).
- Check your tires on the truck and RV at each stop. Visually checking usually suffices if you have newer tires with no issues, but don’t hesitate to break out the tire gauge if something looks odd. We had a slow leak the whole way to Utah and had to put air in one tire too frequently. This was fixed by getting metal valve stems on all tires, and we haven’t had any more issues!
- Park Advisor app for smart phones is a life-saver! On this, you can find truck stops, regular gas stations, and places for overnight parking. This includes free dry parking (Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or most truck stops) as well as RV parks that may not show up on Google. We have found that city parks tend to be our favorite places to stop overnight.
- Wind is an RV-er’s worst enemy, and it is something we are always aware of now. During our stop in Wyoming, we learned that you shouldn’t haul any kind of trailer in wind gusts over 25 mph. Since our delay, we have tracked wind using the My Radar app and Windy app (which I like better). With these apps, you are able to see radar data of wind direction and speed on a map, and Windy allows for a predictive wind forecast up to 3 days ahead of the current time. We have found this to be the most accurate way to plan our travels and stay out of the windy zones.
Please comment with any RV tips and tricks you have learned from your own travels, and stay tuned for more posts about Utah and our current adventures.