Sun Valley Idaho Mountain Driving, Safety & Tips

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Mountain Driving

The winter wonderland that surrounds Sun Valley provides spectacular scenery. However, care should be taken when doing any driving in the mountains. Read More

Lay of the Land

Be sure to know your route and drive with caution whenever you venture out of town and into the surrounding remote country. Always remember to go prepared for any changes in the weather and be sure that your vehicle is in good operating condition.

Sun Valley, Idaho is surrounded by mountain wonderlands. The best way to experience the mountains is to take a mountain drive. It can be a wonderful and exhilarating experience. In every direction, there is something spectacular to see or do. However, remember that mountain driving – traveling on two lanes (or at times, one lane) roadways that twist and turn along streams and up steep mountain grades – can also be tiring and cause wear and tear on your vehicle.

Tips for Driving Mountain Passes

Here are some tips for driving safely in the mountains and being able to enjoy the experience.

  1. Make sure that your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater, and exhaust systems are in good condition. Check the tread on your tires and ensure that they are properly inflated.
  2. Don't zoom on the downhill. Don't go down a mountain road any faster than you can go up it.
  3. Make sure that your engine does not overheat. On steep upgrades, downshift to a lower gear, watch the temperature gauge in your vehicle, and turn off the air-conditioning if it starts to overheat.
  4. Don't take more than your share out of the middle of the road. Don't "hug" the centerline.
  5. The car going UPHILL always has the right of way.
  6. There will be a lot to look at, but make sure that when you slow down or stop, that you are not creating a traffic hazard.
  7. If you want to try unpaved side roads, make sure that you are aware of weather and road conditions, and make sure that someone always knows where you are going and when you are coming back.
  8. Take along extra drinking water and stay well hydrated – this will keep you more alert.
  9. If the weather should change for the worse, be prepared and demonstrate courtesy to other drivers, to pedestrians and to those who may be traveling by bicycle.
  10. Take frequent breaks. A mountain drive should be relaxing and enjoyable.

Tips for Driving on Snow

Here are some basic ways to make sure that both you and your vehicle are prepared to handle issues that arise when the weather is snowy.

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.