Me and a group of friends are planning to drive from Tulsa, OK to Salt Lake City, UT in the winter. Are there any roads we should avoid for safety reasons? Is there also any equipment we should bring just to be safe?
There are a number of options that might be considered, based on weather conditions (past, present, and future). While a storm passes through an area one would definitely worry about how well even the interstate highways will be plowed, and some sections may be closed for up to several days. So, one should be prepared to go a different way, leave earlier than anticipated, or leave later (up to several days either way). Your tolerance for being stuck in a blizzard in the middle of nowhere is likely different from mine.
- Tulsa west to I-35, up to I-70, up I-25 to I-80 and then into Salt Lake City. Google suggested route, fastest in good weather at a bit over 17 hours.
- Tulsa west across the panhandle to Boise City, cut north to I-70 at Limon, then like (1) above. Until Limon this is on secondary routes across fairly sparsely populated areas, so it is more prone to getting stuck. But, you bypass a storm hitting mostly in Kansas.
- Tulsa to OKC to Albuquerque, then cut up through Moab, over to Green River on I-70, then up over Soldier Summit to Provo/SLC. Lots of two lane highway. An alternative is to stay on I-70 from Green River and cut up further west, possibly staying on I-70 all the way to I-15. This avoids anything in Kansas/Colorado/Wyoming.
- Tulsa to OKC to Albuquerque to Kingman AZ, cut up to Las Vegas on US-93, then up I-15 to Salt Lake City. Generally all major highways, the southernmost option. The slowest at nearly 24 hours of driving (per Google).
- Any number of varients cutting back and forth amongst I-80, I-70, and I-40 options.
Which to choose? If 3-7 days after the last storm, all of these roads will be clear. Chains (or real four wheel drive) may be required on various sections, so be prepared. Check the forecast of storm tracks coming up to see if you need to leave early to beat a storm, take a different route, or leave later to wait out the storm.