I am driving from Portland to Boise over Veterans Day weekend. Was wondering if this is too late in the year and if it will be safe to go?

7 Answers

  • 10 months ago

    The roads over the cascades are open. Maybe wet in places and dry in some, I saw no ice anywhere. There was snow at Crater Lake, but that's way far away from anything you'll encounter. If you think it's going to be too windy in the Gorge, (I doubt it will be though) head down to Salem then go over the Santiam Pass. Personally, I prefer the 82 through the Gorge, then go to the 84 to Ontario and Boise. It's a good drive right now.

  • 10 months ago

    I wonder what you are imagining. The most difficult winter road conditions in the U.S. occur in the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. Further east, such as in Oregon's Blue Mountains and the Rockies, the roads are rarely as challenging as near Mount Hood. That snow is much less dense and packed ice is uncommon. The snow in the Rockies is so light that 95-98% of the time, road plowing is not needed: Cars passing by blow all of it off the road!

    The significant potential winter challenges on I-84 between Portland and Boise are:

    * The Columbia River Gorge (sea level proxy for the Cascades) between Troutdale and Hood River. If there have been recent easterlies (particularly Canadian air masses) which freeze the ground and a change to westerly flow bringing moist air can cause ice and snow in the Gorge. Every 3 to 5 years, this results in I-84 closing for up to a few days—usually this occurs December through February, though the forest fire in September 2017 also closed I-84 for weeks.

    * Blue Mountain Pass between Pendleton and La Grande has a dramatically rapid ascent beginning 7 miles east of Pendleton starting at about 1300 feet elevation and nearly 4000 feet along the pass. Usually this is fine in November though there can be light frost (usually at night). I have seen it icy after major snowstorms (which occur during winter months). But it was no problem to drive through with a bit of caution. Traffic is very light here which makes collisions unlikely, but it also doesn't wear away ice very quickly either.

    The Nyssa-Boise Basin is almost always dry and clear.

    You have a few weeks before Veterans Day. Take a winter driving school course! My wife did the one at PIR https://www.prodrive.net/car-control-and-defensive... I was impressed with the clarity and accessibility of the classroom presentation and how much time she got behind the wheel doing (and eventually controlling) "cookies" in the parking lot!

    If you don't have them, you really ought to have a set of cable tire chains fitting your vehicle. At time roads are closed to vehicles without "traction devices" so you could be ticketed. Practice putting them on at home to minimize the frustration and desperation which would occur during conditions of real need. Les Schwab has a deal where you buy them, drive around for the winter; if you don't use them you can return them for a full refund in the spring.

    My experience is from driving from one ski area to another during the winter since the 1980s. Usually in Oregon and Washington, but sometimes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and California. It is very enjoyable driving in winter in the fabled snow country.

    If I didn't know how to drive on snow/ice, I would:

    1. Plan to make the trip.

    2. On that Thursday and Friday check the weather forecast. If, as is 95% likely, it will be mild weather and little chance of freezing in the Gorge, make the trip. Otherwise cancel it.

    3. Every chance you get go find some secluded snow and ice to practice driving on: Stops, turns, backing up, going up and down hills with stops and turns. After a few hours (total) of practice you'll be a much better skilled driver.

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    Interstate 84, which I am guessing is the route you will take, can have snow or ice on it in early-mid November during Veterans Day. The odds of roads being clear and safe are pretty good but I would encourage you to take traction devices (like tire chains) just in case.

  • 10 months ago

    It is quite possible that you will encounter icy roads and snow. It regularly gets to or below freezing at night in the mountains.  There is no way to guess what the weather will be on the specific days you travel.  Could be mild and sunny or there could be a snow storm.  

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  • 10 months ago

    I think you're wondering about snow. Yes, there will probably be snow in Idaho.

  • 10 months ago

    I'm sure hundreds, if not thousands, of drivers will safely drive the same route at the same time. Do you think people just stop driving at a certain time of year? Leave the highways completely empty?

  • Anonymous
    10 months ago

    Portland, Oregon

    Boise, Idaho.

    Maybe it's a little too late. Everywhere is safe if you carry a gun with you

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