From the author, RW:
When customers find out that I'm from Kansas, they often say, "Kansas? What can you tell me about mountain passes if you're from Kansas?" But after they hear my story, they cut me a little slack. (By the way, did you know that there was once a researcher with too much government grant money who determined that Kansas actually is flatter than a pancake?)
VITAL INFORMATION FOR ANYONE DRIVING A LARGE OR HEAVY VEHICLE
In an attempt to make mountain driving a little safer for truckers and RV'ers, R&R Publishing Inc. has been collecting and publishing information about mountain passes and steep grades since 1993. The Mountain Directory Ebooks give the locations and descriptions of over 700 mountain passes and steep grades in 22 states. The Mountain Directory ebooks tell you where the steep grades are, how long they are, how steep (%) they are, whether the road is two lane, three lane, or four lane, if there are escape ramps, switchbacks, sharp curves, speed limits, etc. With this information, one can know ahead of time what a pass is like and make an informed decision about whether to go over or around. If you decide to go over, perhaps the cool morning hours would ease the strain on the engine and transmission during the climb. Unhooking the towed vehicle would make the climb and the descent easier. Knowing what lies ahead is half the battle.
The printed versions of the Mountain Directory books had almost 240 pages of text and color relief maps. All 240 pages are in the downloadable versions of the Mountain Directory ebooks. Nothing is missing. In the printed versions, mountain pass locations were marked with a yellow triangle on the color relief maps. In the ebook versions, you can click on the yellow triangles and the text appears that describes that location.
4. US 33 (between Harrisonburg, VA and Judy Gap, WV.)
There are three summits along this stretch of US 33. The eastern summit is between Rawley Springs, VA and Brandywine, WV. The east side is 4 miles of 8 to 9% grade. The west side is 4½ miles of 9% grade and both sides have continuous sharp curves and hairpin turns. The highway is two lane on both sides.
The middle summit is between Oak Flat and Franklin, WV. The east side of this hill is 2½ miles of 8% with 25 mph curves. The west side is about 3½ miles of much milder grade. It is 4 to 5% over most of its length. There are some sharp curves near the bottom. The road is two lane on both sides of the hill.
The western summit is between Franklin and Judy Gap, WV. It is 5 miles of steady 9% grade on both sides. Both sides are two lane with sharp curves and hairpin turns. Use caution on this road.
There is an old saying among over-the-road truckers. "There are two kinds of drivers -- those who've been in trouble on a mountain grade, and those who will be." Unfortunately, this also applies to many RVers. Trucks and RVs have similar problems regarding weight, engine power, and braking in mountainous terrain.
From the Colorado section of the Mountain Directory West:
VAIL PASS elev. 10603' (on I-70 east of Vail, CO)
The descent on the westbound side of Vail Pass is about 10 miles in length and begins at milepost 189 on I-70. One half mile west of the summit there are warning signs for westbound traffic--"Speed limit 45 mph for vehicles over 30,000 lbs." and "Steep grade next 8 miles--trucks stay in lower gear." The next mile is rolling hills. Then there is a sign--"7% grade next 7 miles."
The descent is steady at 7% and there are 3 advisory signs for the first runaway truck ramp which is about milepost 185 or 4 miles down from the summit. The escape ramp is upsloping on the right. The second runaway truck ramp is about milepost 182, which is 3¼ miles after the first escape ramp, or about 7¼ miles down from the summit. There are several advisory signs before reaching it and it is an upsloping ramp on the right. Don't be fooled when the grade eases after the second escape ramp. It soon goes back to 7% and doesn't bottom out until 2½ miles after the second escape ramp or about milepost 179.
The eastbound descent from the summit of Vail Pass continues almost to the Frisco exit about 11 miles down the hill but the descent is not steady. There are short steep sections followed by short sections of lesser grade. The last half of the descent is 3-4% grade. There are no escape ramps on the east side of the pass.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the maps included in this book, it is nearly impossible to include all necessary detail on such small maps. We recommend that these maps be used in conjunction with larger, more detailed road maps.
From the North Carolina section of the Mountain Directory East:
I-40 (between Black Mountain and Old Fort, NC)
By law, all trucks except pickups and vans are required to stop at the top of this hill and read the information posted about the eastbound descent ahead. The top of the hill is near milepost 67 just east of Black Mountain. The grade is posted as 5 miles of 6%. It is a strong 6%. There are three runaway truck ramps, all of which are short sand beds with sand piles at the end. There is about a mile of grade left after the last escape ramp. The westbound descent is about 1¼ mile of 6%.
There are many aftermarket devices that can help heavy vehicles in the mountains. Some will help by increasing horsepower for the climbs. These include turbos and exhaust systems. Other devices, such as engine braking systems can help during the descents. Some products, like gear splitters and auxiliary transmissions can help during the climbs and the descents. Many of these products also improve fuel economy (while delivering more horsepower) and reduce wear and tear on the drive train.
Try before you buy!
Try before you buy!
12. TETON PASS elev. 8429'
Teton Pass has sustained 10% grades on both sides of the summit. An unusual feature is that both runaway truck ramps on the east side of the pass can be used only if the runaway truck crosses the oncoming lane of traffic. There is a posted weight limit of 60,000 lbs. on this pass.
The westbound descent from the summit of Teton Pass begins with a 25 mph speed limit and a truck warning sign--"Steep grade--10% next 3 miles--use lower gear." This grade warning is repeated a mile later. About 2½ miles down from the summit the grade eases to 6-7% and the speed limit increases. This grade continues for about 3-4 miles and eases near the Idaho state line.
The eastbound descent from the summit of Teton Pass starts with a truck warning sign--"Steep grade--10% next 5 1/2 miles--use lower gear." There are 20 mph curves near the top. About 1/3 mile down from the summit is a sign--"Runaway truck ramp--2½ miles LEFT side." This warning is repeated several times as you approach the ramp. To use the ramp you must cross the oncoming lane of traffic. The ramp slopes uphill.
The second runaway truck ramp is about 1 mile after the first. It, too, is on the left side and is an upsloping ramp. At this point the grade begins to ease to about 6-7% and the speed limit increases. The hill continues to the town of Wilson, which is about 5½ miles from the summit.
"The worst part isn't the white knuckles, the cold sweat, the unbelievable
adrenaline rush. It's the emptiness in the very pit of the stomach,
the utter hopelessness of the situation. Anyone who has ever lived
through a runaway can relate.... a rig out of control on a long downgrade
has a mind of its own. And it doesn't care what gets in the way. Miller's
directories are full of good stuff that'll help drivers make smart
routing decisions and prepare them for dangerous grades - like length
and severity of grades, sharpness of curves and location of escape
ramps. It's invaluable info for rookie drivers or old hands traveling
into a mountainous area for the first time." Andrew Ryder, Editor, Heavy Duty Trucking
From the Southern California section of the Mountain Directory West:
CAJON PASS elev. 4190'
There is very little descent on the north side of Cajon Pass. The southbound descent begins with warning signs--"Downgrade next 12 miles--trucks check brakes" and "Truck speed limit 45 mph" and "Truck scales 5 miles" and "6% grade next 4 miles" and "Runaway truck ramp 2½ miles."
The grade may be a bit more than 6% down to the escape ramp where it eases for a very short distance and then goes back to 6% until reaching the truck scales. After the scales the grade eases to about 2-3% for 3 miles, then goes to about 5% for another 4½ miles.
This road has four lanes downhill and a great deal of traffic. Use caution on this hill.
"Rvers traveling to new locations often meet unforeseen and possibly
dangerous challenges in mountainous terrain because they could not
know what type of road lay ahead. Atlases may mark elevation, but
not how steep and how many miles a grade is, whether or not there
are turnouts, and the condition of the road. Mountain
Directory West and Mountain Directory
East give locations and detailed descriptions of almost 700
mountain passes and steep grades in 22 states. This enables drivers
to plan safer and easier routes, or to be prepared to face the grade." Highways
".... should definitely be included in your RV library... chock full
of information... our traveling columnists have already made excellent
use of this directory." Camping Canada
From the Pennsylvania East section of the Mountain Directory East:
Pennsylvania highway 125
Large vehicles may want to avoid this 18 mile section of road. It crosses four mountains and includes numerous 15 mph hairpin turns and many more 20 and 25 mph curves. Regardless of your direction of travel you will have to climb and descend some very steep hills. Much of the grade is 7 to 9% but there are numerous sections that must be 12% or more, some lasting almost a mile. Brake shoes don't have enough time to cool much between descents.