Roadtrip US - snow and sun

Travel Forums North America Roadtrip US - snow and sun

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1. Posted by pendleton (Respected Member 8 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,

My husband and I have now sorted our RTW itinerary and are planning to start our trip from February with 2 months in the US - one month's snowboarding at Powder Mountain, northern Utah; then one month roadtripping down California and across the southern states.

We need a car for this, and I'm guessing we'll need a sturdy car with snow chains for the snowboarding bit. Althought I'd quite like to hire a Mustang or Cadillac for the road trip....I have a couple of questions I'd be grateful for some advice on...

What will the weather be like in California and across the south through March? Will we be able to drive in an open-top car?

Should we just keep the (sturdy) car from Utah or do you think we should get a different car for the roadtrip? We could get the Amtrak from Salt Lake City to San Francisco to start the road trip.

Is it worth buying for a month (or two months), or could you recommend anywhere good for a long term (one month) car hire, possibly around San Francisco (and ending up in Miami)?

Many thanks in advance for any help you can offer...

2. Posted by gypsierose (Budding Member 27 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

California is the largest state in the US so temperatures vary depending on how far north/south you go. In the winter, the day time can vary anywhere from 60's to high 70's which is typical for the year. It also tends to rain a lot during this period... I call it the california "winter". At night it can get chilly and can dip to the 40's-50's.

Utah is beautiful and yes, you should definately get a good car that has good traction. Many of the hotels though often have shuttles that can take you to the various sites I believe (it's been a while since I've been there).

In terms of car - even if you go down south, untill you get to the far south close to the border, you probably will not need a convertible (top down) car till then. Many car companies in the US such as Hertz, Alamo offer you to pick up a car at one location and drop it off in another. Depending on where you go, you could decide to switch cars then and opt for one that is a convertible.

Still, take caution because even new mexico get's snow and that is a southern state. Hope this helps.

3. Posted by rbyslipahs (Respected Member 349 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

If you're not used to driving in the mountains during the winter, especially if you're talking about skiing, don't drive. Just take the train. You'll thank yourself! On Amtrak, it generally doesn't take that much longer than driving, and you can take in the scenery, read, eat -- it's a really great way to travel, and relatively inexpensive. I love taking the train in the States when I can. Wish we had more coverage!

March isn't too bad in the South. It can change pretty radically, but if you wanted a convertible, you could easily get away with it. Depends on where you are, but it's generally fairly mild. If you have any questions about what to see in the South or out-of-the-way suggestions, feel free to e-mail me. My husband is a Southerner, and I'd be glad to pass on any tips.

Oh, and I'm not so sure on buying a car for the time being. You can look into the logistics, but it would probably be much simpler to rent, at least in terms of paperwork.

Sounds like a fun trip! Have a great time.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2015 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

If you want to rent a convertible, you'll pay dearly for the privilege. Many rental companies will not allow cars to go beyond certain preset limits.* One word of advice - I suggest Colorado for winter sports over Utah, and there's other excellent places in N. New Mexico (Taos) and N. California (Lake Tahoe on the Nevada border).

  • here in Oregon, one company allows one to travel in Oregon and Washington only, while another let's one travel to only Pacific Coast states (they now track with GPS signals and you could be in for a major fine if you exceed the limits).
5. Posted by pendleton (Respected Member 8 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

This is great advice, thanks so much for your help. I think we will stick with the Amtrak from SLC across to San Francisco then, and we will hire another car (with a top!) from SF...we may decide to change cars for the Southern States bit!

rbyslipahs, I will PM you re your kind offer of local advice!

Many thanks all.

6. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2015 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Your Amtrak train from SLC to San Fran passes through Reno, NV and Truckee, CA. Truckee is a stone's throw from Lake Tahoe - if you'd like to take a break and play in the snow there also (gambling in S. Lake Tahoe, NV and all of NV (Nevada).

7. Posted by pendleton (Respected Member 8 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Haha! Think my husband would be up for that! Thanks v much for the info.