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View Full Version : Best VFR route to fly over the Rockies


sgfreeman
09-30-2009, 07:56 AM
I am planning my first long distance trip to visit family from southwestern Virginia to Provo Utah. The trip is planned for early November depending on weather. I would like to take a southern route due to the time of year. I am looking for some sage advice about the safest route to either cross or skirt the Rockies. I don't have a problem with entering from southern Utah and then flying north to Provo. Suggestions?

rv620mr
09-30-2009, 08:31 AM
. . . as in interstate highways. I fly into Provo, and then on to Las Vegas, on a regular basis. IMHO, the southern route will not have substantially better weather than picking up I-80 at Cheyenne, following it to the Utah border, following the low terrain to Heber City, and then shooting through Provo Canyon.

The southern route, like the one just described, will put mountains off one wing for several hundred miles. But, you'll be following I-15 instead of I-80. :D The latitude won't make that much difference. The weather pattern you happen to get during your trip will make more difference.

If you depart Provo, intending to reverse the I-80 route, heading east, then be sure to climb to altitude before entering Provo Canyon. Just fly south of PVU for a few miles and start circling up. There's no place to land in Provo Canyon!

Bubblehead
09-30-2009, 11:40 AM
I've flown Fort Worth to Roswell NM to Farmington, NM and Pueblo. CO to Farmington before. Either way you should be able to get to Provo just fine from Farmington. Expensive gas in Farmington but nice people and a loaner car to go into town for lunch.

Lots of wide open spaces. I used flight following almost all the time and carried water and snack bars and a KX-99 just in case.

Vern
09-30-2009, 11:55 AM
Just remember, it you stray far from major highways and go down, you may never be found alive!

Ironflight
09-30-2009, 11:56 AM
We're hopefully headed to the Oregon Coast in the RV-6 on Saturday, and after looking at a number of options, I think that if the weather allows, we'll probably run up the front range from Houston, then take I-80 across. It adds about 100 miles to the straight-line distance, but the fuel stops look a little better, and it will get us out of this dang southern heat quicker. Since we'll be at Gross (travellign for about ten days), I don't want to DEPEND on getting maximum altitude capability!

Paul

dmaib
09-30-2009, 01:15 PM
We did this about six years ago in the old Bonanza with Seattle as the destination. Headed NW out of Ft Collins and picked up I-90 in Gillette, as I recall. I-90 all of the way to Seattle. I seem to recall that the highest pass was about 6500 ft. Beautiful trip. Good route if the NW coast is your destination.

L.Adamson
09-30-2009, 09:53 PM
Just remember, it you stray far from major highways and go down, you may never be found alive!

True. And most of our airline pilot friends (who also fly RVs), won't think of rougher mountainous areas in a single engine, thanks to getting very use to high altitudes and engine redundancy.

However, since I can see the mountains above Provo from my back door.......... a lot of us pilots around here tend to fly across mountains that are not exactly close to a major highway. There are usually dirt roads, that criss-cross these areas, and meadows, but smoothness is far from guaranteed if you have to land on one. Most of us have taken numerous mountain flying courses. There are tricks when flying up canyons in rising terrain, to give your self an out. Also, a lot of mountain ranges "peak out". As you climb towards the peak on one side, you have the option of turning and gliding downhill, should an engine problem arise.## (see below) Once over the peak, the other side is downhill. And of course, there are areas where you just have to trust the engine..........about the same as flying over a heavy populated city.

For those who are not familiar with the Rockies, I'd follow the major highways also. Most RV's have plenty of power to stay well above the freeways from the Wyoming direction, as well as the southern Utah route.

If coming from the southern route, you would probably feel easier about coming up from the St. George direction, and following the freeway. It's much flatter along the freeway, than a route such as Moab (Canyonlands), Price, and then Spanish Fork canyon. For some reason, I just don't like Spanish Fork Cyn. as a potential landing spot.

## make sure you have enough excess altitude to make the turn.

L.Adamson --- RV6A (And we carry SPOT)

glenn654
09-30-2009, 10:01 PM
Scott,
If you happen to be an AOPA member, they have in their education section on their site about mountain flying numerous routes across the Rockies. It is well worth a look.

Glenn Wilkinson

rvmills
10-01-2009, 01:24 AM
One thing to consider as you plan a trip towards the front range is mountain wave activity and the associated turbulence on the lee side of the front range (especially as we move into the time of the year when the jetstream migrates south and gets lower). If the winds are high above the mountains, it can get really rough east of the mountains. Just flew a trip into Denver tonight, and the winds were >100 kts in the flight levels, and over 50 kts in the descent...even down low where we cruise in our RVs. It was rough as a cob from FL230 right to the deck. Strong moderate turbulence in the 737, and it would have been severe in the RV (would not have wanted to be there in an RV!) We get turbulence plots that show mountainwave areas, and the worst spots are typically from CO Springs to north of Denver, and another area from S of Pueblo (around Cimmaron) to COS.

For Scott, the great circle route from VA to Provo, should get you north towards Cheyenne anyway, so the north route along I-80 might work out better. Just be sure to ask the Wx briefer about airmets and sigmets for turbulence, and ask how far north mountain wave activity extends, so you can determine if Cheyenne is far enough north to steer clear (it often seems to be).

For Paul, these present conditions seem to be moving east pretty fast...I think they are from the same system that caused 40+ kt gusts in Reno yesterday. But if they persist in the Rockies, either a southern route (like towards Farmington) or a northern route that stays well east of Denver might be good choices (and I'm sure your looking at it already!)

For the Pagosa trip, I tried out a route that stayed east of the Nellis ranges, and south of the Fallon ranges (Saint George-SGU to Wilson Creek-ILC to Mina-MVA to Reno. That has the added benefit of stayin clear of the Vegas Class B, and keeps you well east of most of the Sierra (where it's also starting to get bumpy). Either way has it's terrain advantages and disadvantages, but thought I'd mention the ride I experienced east of the front range as a heads-up for something to consider.

Hope you both have great trips...should be great adventures! :)

Cheers,
Bob

L.Adamson
10-01-2009, 07:21 AM
I am planning my first long distance trip to visit family from southwestern Virginia to Provo Utah. The trip is planned for early November depending on weather. I would like to take a southern route due to the time of year. I am looking for some sage advice about the safest route to either cross or skirt the Rockies. I don't have a problem with entering from southern Utah and then flying north to Provo. Suggestions?

Just wanted to mention.....

As long as the weather is cooperating, November is one of the best months of the year to fly around here. Mornings and afternoons are both usually smooth flights; where in the summer we tend to get turbulence nearly every afternoon.

L.Adamson --- RV6A