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Old 04-30-2019, 09:37 AM   #1
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Deep South West travel Advice

Hi to all,
This year I am planning our Western trip from Fl to CA along the southernmost part of our SW. I would appreciate any advice / suggestions on how to handle and what to expect along the way, especially outbound from San Antonio via I-10 with overnights in Saragosa, el Paso, Las Cruces, Tucson, before turning north to Death Valley, June Lake, and Tahoe and beyond. My main concern is the border issue and what others may have experienced during their travels along this route. Flatley stated, I'm not uncomfortable with this route but would just like to hear what others have to say. PAT
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Old 04-30-2019, 10:13 AM   #2
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our most recent trip on I-10 between I-55 and Phoenix was January of 2017. I-10/12 thru LA is horrible; TX and NM were generally pretty good and AZ was a mixed bag.

as far as “border issues” we had no issues. we had stops just east of Houston, Kerrville, TX, Ft. Stockton, TX, Las Cruces, NM and Benson, AZ. you may encounter “permanent” or “temporary” border patrol checkpoints along the way. they usually will ask your place of birth and maybe your destination....no big deal.

tips:
-1. try and transit houston between 10a snd 1p during the week. we went thru on a sunday morning and had no issues

-2 refueling (gas or diesel) is EZ at the Buc-Ees stations.

3- in order to avoid what we were told was a narrow, steep bridge in Lake Charles we took the 270 byoass around the city. terrible road. don’t know if the bridge would’ve been better but its hard to imagine how it could’ve been worse.

4- there is a loop road (State Route 1604) around San Antonio which is normally a good bypass. last year the western end of 1604 was under construction as was I-10 west of SA. the result was a huge traffic jam. check the state or city road construction web site.
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Old 04-30-2019, 10:17 AM   #3
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We did an overnight at the Cabela's in El Paso. Was convenient to the highway, had ample parking and restaurants close enough to get a dinner before bed. We didn't stick around too long in the am to see how busy the area got but never once feared that we were in a "war zone" as some would like to make you think it is. We went from there over to San Diego on 10/8 and for most of that drive could see the border but no issues driving across there.


Winter 2019-20 we're booked into Tucson. This will be our first year outside of FL for the winter in the RV.
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Old 04-30-2019, 03:26 PM   #4
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The state parks in Arizona are incredible. Lots of space and showers/bathrooms are typically huge. However, you need to book early as they do fill up. I have stayed in Tucson since my family is in Oro Valley. The private parks are more plentiful on the south end of Tucson but if you don't mind going off the interstate, the Catalina State Park is incredible. One could spend several days there and still not see everything offered. It is north of Tucson.

As others have stated, we ran into Border Patrol in Bisbee and Tombstone. No problems though. They asked where we were from, where we were coming from and where we were going to. There are signs on the back roads outside of Tombstone not to pick up hitchhikers. We have never had issues in southern Arizona. I'm certain there are those entities out in the middle of the desert, albeit far and few between, but we have never witnessed it.

Good luck and safe travels!

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Old 04-30-2019, 04:49 PM   #5
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Traveling the Border, is safer than the Big Cities in the rest of the country. IMHO

Left San Diego in 76 for the PNW (dry side) We don't even have a traffic light in the county, just a couple flashers.

Spend the winter ~2.5 miles from the Rio Grande River.
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Old 04-30-2019, 08:11 PM   #6
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Not sure if your question about "border" relates to the state borders or the US - Mexico border. I live in Las Cruces for 7 years and never felt threatened anywhere in the region. Unlike in many US cities. The state borders are a non-issue really. The Border Patrol may have check points setup in some areas. Just answer their questions like a Custom's Office. Yes or No, simple and a thank you. They have certain profiles they're looking for and you probably don't fit one of them. Sometimes there maybe checks for produce entering AZ & CA. Otherwise travel is like any other place.

You did not mention what months you'd be in the SW. I assume you are aware of the extreme heat in the Death Valley area during the summer.

Have fun and be safe...
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Old 04-30-2019, 10:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PIC View Post
Hi to all,
This year I am planning our Western trip from Fl to CA along the southernmost part of our SW. I would appreciate any advice / suggestions on how to handle and what to expect along the way, especially outbound from San Antonio via I-10 with overnights in Saragosa, el Paso, Las Cruces, Tucson, before turning north to Death Valley, June Lake, and Tahoe and beyond. My main concern is the border issue and what others may have experienced during their travels along this route. Flatley stated, I'm not uncomfortable with this route but would just like to hear what others have to say. PAT

I suggest being careful in one respect only: that there are those who are cheerfully and frequently promoting demagoguery to instill fear and biased reactions. Don't fall for it!
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Old 05-01-2019, 02:09 AM   #8
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Every year (sometime in late May - Sept) I drive out on the beaches of Port Aransas, TX and camp for 3 days. It's one of the most favorite things I like to do in my RV.

You need to take a free ferry, but that's not a problem for any size RV. (Be sure to buy a $15 beach pass, and camping overnight is free.) The beach stretches about 5 miles; and the hotter the better. But try to time your arrival when there is no wind.

Alternatively, you can find a paved stall in Galveston, TX along the ocean water front. Just park along the breakwater. Open your awning, and take some chairs to the beach.

If you make it to Port-A you can skip South Padre, except in Dec/Jan/Feb when it's warmer in S.P.

Then I make a b-line for Montana and all the points in-between.

Happy motoring!
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Old 05-01-2019, 09:19 AM   #9
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Thanks all for the update. Just as I figured, other than a possible id check, no big deal.
Yes aware of the high temps in DV. Last year we caught 120 in July. Hoping for a bit less here in early June. Either way it's a drive not to be missed.
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Old 05-01-2019, 03:55 PM   #10
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Heading out of San Antonio is a sign "El Paso 524 miles"...was dreading the drive but it turned out to be beautiful. Spent the night in the parking lot of WM in Ft Stockton. The drive is flat but mountains in the distance on both sides for much of the way.Would recommend filling up in Ft Stockton and El Paso.
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Old 05-01-2019, 04:04 PM   #11
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My advice: Enjoy the Mexican food!
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Old 05-01-2019, 05:39 PM   #12
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Spent 2 weeks in San Benito TX, near Brownsville this January. No problems, South Padre Island was nice too. Drove some of the Mexican border from San Benito to Laredo rt83 then caught rt277 then to rt90 to Langtry (Judge Roy Bean's Place in Langtry was awesome) on our way to El Paso via Fort Stockton. Interesting country, saw some border patrol folks but nothing else. Lake Casablanca State Park in Laredo was very nice. Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso was also very nice. The Fort Stockton Walmart is very busy with overnighters, fills up fast so if you’re doing the Walmart thing plan to arrive early. We stayed in Benson and Quartzsite AZ for February. No problems.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:28 AM   #13
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Border issues?? - I suggest you stop reading newspapers and listening to the radio. The only thing the "crisis" has done is that the border check stations leading out of the El Paso/Las Cruces area have been furloughed because of a lack of personnel to run them. No great loss. I'm a Las Cruces resident and believe me, it's pretty boring, border wise, around here.

From San Antonio to El Paso is 600 miles of kind of bumpy road, wide open spaces, and wind. Normal layover point is Fort Stockton (Ft. Stockton RV Park is good). El Paso is really short of RV Parks so you are better off coming to Las Cruces. Note: El Paso is rebuilding I-10 and construction related traffic can be bad. Suggest you take Rt. 375 around the city.

From LC to Tucson isn't too bad but again, watch the weather forecasts for wind - it can make it undriveable. Tucson has lots of places to stay but Pima County Fairgrounds is a pretty good, inexpensive full service campground. If you like airplanes, the Pima county air museum can be a fun day.

Have a fun trip.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:06 PM   #14
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Southwest travel..

I am surprised no one has mentioned the REAL ISSUE with this trip and it is one I am worried about. On 5/6 we are heading opposite direction with 3 nights in Arizona (Phoenix 1 and Flagstaff 2) and 3 nights in Northern New Mexico before crossing panhandle and visiting relatives in Longview (almost to Louisiana). The worry is WEATHER especially high winds and hail.

Hoping for much better than the past week and this week forecast is rain every day at 45% and more likely chance.

Luck to you!
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:14 PM   #15
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I am surprised no one has mentioned the REAL ISSUE with this trip and it is one I am worried about. On 5/6 we are heading opposite direction with 3 nights in Arizona (Phoenix 1 and Flagstaff 2) and 3 nights in Northern New Mexico before crossing panhandle and visiting relatives in Longview (almost to Louisiana). The worry is WEATHER especially high winds and hail.

Hoping for much better than the past week and this week forecast is rain every day at 45% and more likely chance.

Luck to you!
Living in Flagstaff, this time of year is always awful with the winds. They typically don't consistently let up until the summer kicks in. Be careful on I-40 between here and ALB as it can be worse than here. Semi's have blown over! Fortunately now days, DPS will have the interstate closed down temporarily if they deem it necessary. Just slow down a bit than what you normally drive and you should be fine! We do have rain forecast for Tuesday. Safe travels!

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Old 05-05-2019, 05:26 PM   #16
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We have been driving I 10 at least 2x each year from Pensacola to S. Calif. No problems--our most recent trip was Dec 2018, West bound, and Jan, 2019 East Bound. There are a couple of inspection stations by Customs/border. I roll down the window--turn down the radio, take off my dark glasses and smile. After we get the "wave thru", I think the Border Patrol agent. We have not had an issue with Calif--but agriculture may be an issue if stopped. So check on the most recent rules.

Don't worry about the Lake Charles Bridge. We took the bypass once, and it was worse than 10. We also try and hit Houston mid morning on a Saturday--stay in Orange TX, that way we get thru Houston and San Antonio in one day. Look at Waze for San Antonio--We usually take the exit to get the 410 N on the East side, short distance to the 35 S. and jump over to the I 10--bypassing most of down town. Stay on the "Upper deck". Watch out for traffic as you get to the West Side--huge shopping center sometimes boggles up there.

We bypass Phoenix--take I 8 to Gila Bend and then Hi 85 N to rejoin I 10. To avoid S. Calif traffic, you may consider hwy 95 out of Blyth to I 40 to Barstow, then back NE on I 15 to Baker to access Death Valley. I have not gone over the Kelso road for some time, but unless you have some local recent knowledge, I would go the long way to Baker. I have spent a lot of time in Death Valley and the adjacent mountains--very desolate--watch out for heat, fuel and all systems running well. From Death Valley, take 190 out to Lone Pine and 395. I spent over 50 years in S. Calif. Skied and back packed area around June Lake many times.

Feel free to PM if you need more info on any of these roads.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:27 PM   #17
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our most recent trip on I-10 between I-55 and Phoenix was January of 2017. I-10/12 thru LA is horrible; TX and NM were generally pretty good and AZ was a mixed bag.

as far as “border issues” we had no issues. we had stops just east of Houston, Kerrville, TX, Ft. Stockton, TX, Las Cruces, NM and Benson, AZ. you may encounter “permanent” or “temporary” border patrol checkpoints along the way. they usually will ask your place of birth and maybe your destination....no big deal.

tips:
-1. try and transit houston between 10a snd 1p during the week. we went thru on a sunday morning and had no issues

-2 refueling (gas or diesel) is EZ at the Buc-Ees stations.

3- in order to avoid what we were told was a narrow, steep bridge in Lake Charles we took the 270 byoass around the city. terrible road. don’t know if the bridge would’ve been better but its hard to imagine how it could’ve been worse.

4- there is a loop road (State Route 1604) around San Antonio which is normally a good bypass. last year the western end of 1604 was under construction as was I-10 west of SA. the result was a huge traffic jam. check the state or city road construction web site.

LAKE CHARLES AREA: This is a highly industrialized area but do not be afraid unless you want an ultra smooth area on I-10. The narrow steep bridge is no big deal to our 330HP diesel rig pulling a Toad. BTW - we stopped in Westlake and found it charming.


SAN ANTONIO: We spent the winter in San Antonio and found the I-10 interchanges confusing and quick on the trigger. Think ahead and it should not be a problem but if you miss there is usually a loop back in the Texas style. However, do not worry just do the SA route and stop a while and do not worry too much.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:38 PM   #18
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Amen to that

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Originally Posted by akeagle View Post
I suggest being careful in one respect only: that there are those who are cheerfully and frequently promoting demagoguery to instill fear and biased reactions. Don't fall for it!
Amen No fear here.
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:36 PM   #19
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I live in south Louisiana near Baton Rouge. I do suggest you get on I-12 and not
Go through New Orleans. However timing is everything! I suggest you plan this part
Of the trip so you will cross the I-10 Mississippi bridge between 10am-2:30pm during the week. Safe travels.
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Old 05-05-2019, 07:19 PM   #20
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Subscribed . If plans stay on track Ill be taking that route from Fl to Az in a couple weeks .
And maybe up to Palm Springs Ca
My only concerns have been the heat this time of year.
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