RV driving Tips: How To Safely Travel On Winding Roads
Safely navigating winding roads in your RV is crucial, especially if you’re keen on venturing into the mountains, valleys, and remote areas. The essence of owning an RV is to explore, and winding roads are a part of that journey. With careful planning and honed driving skills, these challenges can be safely overcome.
The weight of your vehicle plays a significant role when tackling winding roads, especially those with a grade. Most winding roads have switchbacks due to the practicalities of construction. When traveling on such roads, be conscious of gravitational and centrifugal forces, which increase with your vehicle’s weight.
Factors like elevation and the steepness of the grade are other critical considerations. For instance, elevations in the Rocky Mountains can reach up to 14,000 feet, affecting braking.
It’s essential to prepare thoroughly for an RV road trip. If you can avoid winding roads, it’s beneficial. However, deviations are sometimes unavoidable.
My husband and I once found ourselves on the Moki Dugway in Utah due to a detour from a closed road. This road, a section of Utah Highway 261, is incredibly winding with numerous switchbacks. It’s about three miles long, with a 10% grade, and its gravel surface is narrow and treacherous. We faced challenges such as passing other vehicles on a narrow road without guardrails, overlooking precipitous drops. While the views might be breathtaking, the primary focus was on navigating safely.
Use the RV Life App and RV Trip Wizard before you go
Standard GPS devices might not provide detailed information suitable for RVs. However, the RV LIFE App, along with the accompanying RV LIFE Trip Wizard, provides details about potential challenges on the road based on your RV’s specific details.
This app provides route information customized for your RV’s specifications, helping you avoid problems like steep grades, low clearances, and toll roads. Consider a seven-day free trial of the RV LIFE Trip Wizard, then you can choose between an annual or monthly subscription.
Narrow roads, especially those alongside cliffs, present unique challenges. Always be cautious not to scrape or puncture your RV against protruding rocks. On such roads, you’ll often accumulate traffic behind you. It’s courteous and safe to pull over occasionally, allowing other vehicles to overtake. Always adhere to the posted speed limit on these roads, especially during turns.
Some famous narrow roads offer fantastic views but can be harrowing (or even illegal) to drive in a big RV, such as the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park or the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado. For the best experience on these roads, consider traveling in a smaller vehicle.
To familiarize yourself with potentially dangerous routes, check out this article on avoiding risky routes.
Watch your weight
It’s essential to monitor the weight of your RV. An overweight vehicle can have braking issues, be susceptible to tire blowouts, and can be challenging to control, especially in adverse weather conditions. When climbing steep roads, the RV’s engine and brakes are under more strain, which can lead to overheating.
Navigating curves, even if they’re not on an incline, requires care. Adhere to the posted speed limits, and if a specific limit is mentioned for semi-trucks, follow it or go slower. Allow faster vehicles to overtake safely, and utilize lanes designed to let vehicles pass you.
Visibility can be compromised on winding roads. By maintaining a slower speed, you reduce the risk of veering into oncoming traffic.
In some scenarios, it’s best to reduce your speed significantly. Some roads may require maneuvers to navigate safely. When this is the case, activate your hazard lights to signal to other drivers that you’re moving at a slower pace. In general, maintaining a moderate speed ensures safety.
Use the 2/2/2 Rule
The 2/2/2 rule is a guideline that suggests driving no more than 200 miles per day, taking breaks every two hours, and staying at least two nights at each stop. Some RVers also recommend arriving at your destination by 2 p.m. This rule ensures you’re well-rested and can navigate safely.
Navigating winding roads in an RV is undoubtedly challenging. However, by adhering to the advice provided, like maintaining proper speed, ensuring your RV’s weight is within limits, planning with tools like RV LIFE Trip Wizard, and using the 2/2/2 rule, your journey will be both safe and enjoyable.
Get RV-safe directions
For all of your camping and trip planning needs, look no further than RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard. Campground Reviews is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts just like you. With its accompanying RV LIFE App, RV Trip Wizard gets you to your camping destinations utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.