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Portland to Bend OR Driving Question

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
A friend is meeting our group in Bend for a week of skiing at Mt. Bachelor in March. She will be driving solo from Portland to Bend and wants to know if having an SUV is absolutely necessary for the drive. She would prefer to just rent a car (much less money). Once in Bend there will be multiple SUV's within our group for her to ride to the mountain in.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give me!
post #2 of 16
Which route is she taking?

In march, she should be just fine driving a car...I do it coming from Tillamook and the coastal route is much worse than the main corridor.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by memosteve View Post
Which route is she taking?

In march, she should be just fine driving a car...I do it coming from Tillamook and the coastal route is much worse than the main corridor.
Thanks Steve!...I haven't mapped things out for the trip yet but my guess is the most direct route from Portland to Bend (main corridor?) Is the "Main Corridor" the best route to take at that time of the year?
post #4 of 16
Having a SUV is never absolutely necessary. In March it wouldn't be useful unless things are really unusual weather-wise.
post #5 of 16
If she's traveling during the day she shouldn't experience any problems since the traffic & snowplows will keep the pass clear. The only real problem she'll encounter would be if a storm is parked on Santiam Pass & she's going over during a slow traffic period. Even an SUV with stock tires can experience difficulties then. She would be better off in a car with chains & ABS brakes than a rental SUV.
post #6 of 16
you might offer her 213 thru Silverton to Detroit Lake following 22 to Bend.
OR-22 E becomes US-20 E. but it really is straight through with only one pass.
much better than 97
post #7 of 16
Please tell your friend that although an SUV isn't mandatory...it could be very desireable. From the airport area of Portland to Bend...fastest route is over Mt. Hood...and unless she's driving an AWD vehicle or carrying chains and is prepared to use them...she has NO business being on the road.

I would seriously urge her to take an SUV or rent a Subaru to get over the Hwy. 26 summit on Mt. Hood. Once past that, the road smooths out into Oregon's high desert country, and stays fairly dry till you hit Bend, where big snows can occasionally happen. The other summits mentioned off I-5 can be equally treacherous in snowy weather...and we're in the middle of a LOT of it right now.
post #8 of 16
I will reiterate what others have said... in March, most of the time you'll be fine going through Government Camp (coming from the airport, I'm pretty sure that would be faster than going down I-5 and over the Santiam Pass).

However, if a storm comes through, the pass has the potential to get *very* bad, even in March. You're definitely taking the chance, by not having chains, snow tires or 4wd/awd, that you might not be able to get through.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for your recommendations regarding vehicles and routes...very helpful!

It sounds as if my friend might be taking a chance in the event of a major storm by not having an AWD vehicle, however knowing her, she would be perfectly comfortable slapping some chains on a car if need be!
post #10 of 16
If your friend won't be needing her own car while she's here, another option for her might be Central Oregon Breeze bus service; $81 RT.
post #11 of 16
Unless you are on the south end forget Santiam pass, go through Government Camp on 26. If a major storm hits take (from Bend) 97 north to I 84 and avoid the passes altogether.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Rick View Post
If your friend won't be needing her own car while she's here, another option for her might be Central Oregon Breeze bus service; $81 RT.
Thanks for the heads up on this! It might work since we have an open spot in another vehicle which is arriving early.
post #13 of 16
I drive a 33' motor home over Santiam Pass many times each winter on my way to Bachelor to ski. The idea that you need an AWD or 4WD vehicle to conquer the pass is silly. I have driven front drive vehicles and for the most part they perform about as well as SUV's without all the weight disadvantages. Small AWD cars are a very good choice and if reasonable to rent would be a fine option. They are not necessary, however. Good snow tires if available on the rental are advisable, and chains are necessary, so ask for them.

The idea of driving down Hwys 26 and 97 to make the trip faster seems like something out of a crack pipe. These highways are generally two-lane highway and bollixed with traffic. Hwy 26 to Government Camp is a terrible and busy drive. It is as likely to move at 40 mph as it is to move at 55 mph as is highway 97. I-5 is a three-lane freeway and while it has heavy traffic it nearly always moves at between 65 and 75 mph. The pass areas on Santiam are closer together and require less time in the high elevation. The passes over Government Camp are farther apart and require more time at high pass elevation. I have driven over both passes for the past 32 years and except for specific weather reasons I always choose Santiam.

Ultimately the best course of action is to determine the weather at Government Camp and Santiam pass and make a choice based on actual weather conditions. Tripcheck will provide the weather/road condition data and cams http://167.131.0.179/Pages/RCmap.asp...RoadConditions. Government Camp and Blue Box passes are in the NW section and Santiam is in the C section. Click around and figger it out it aint rocket science.

Mark
post #14 of 16
She could also fly from PDX to RDM (Redmond muni airport) for about $170. It is about 15 miles north of Bend.

Mark
post #15 of 16
I don't know the area at all but she could do what I did in SLC earlierthis month. I rented BOTH an SUV and a mid-size car with National and waited until showing up to choose. With the forecasts all calling for warm dry weather I cancelled the SUV and rented the mid-size. Vice versa if there is snow forecast or falling.

This way all bases are convered.
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maddog View Post
The idea of driving down Hwys 26 and 97 to make the trip faster seems like something out of a crack pipe. These highways are generally two-lane highway and bollixed with traffic. Hwy 26 to Government Camp is a terrible and busy drive. It is as likely to move at 40 mph as it is to move at 55 mph as is highway 97.
Mark

Must be weekend traffic. I lived there ten years, still have a place in Bend and and never saw a bit of that. The only place I ever go less than 65 on 97 would be downtown Redmond.

The Breeze bus takes 26 to 97. Guess they smoke the same crack.

Maddog can't be all mad...though maybe he is driving a right hand drive motorhome. are they traveling Friday afternoon? If not, skip Santiam, a total waste of time.
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