Road Trip to the Mountains: 8 Driving Tips to Keep in Mind
Driving through mountains is a beautiful experience. If you’ve ever done it before, you might agree that it’s entirely different compared to driving on flat roads as it requires maneuvers that a lot of people aren’t familiar with.
There are challenges that drivers need to be cautious of when driving at a high elevation: steep and narrow roads, lots of wildlife and other mountain mishaps that require lots of preparation. To ensure that you’re not only keeping safe but also enjoying the ride.
Before hitting the mountains, keep these 8 driving tips in mind
1. Your gas tank should be full before you leave
Running low on gas is the last thing you’ll want to worry about when you’re driving on a mountain road, and chances are slim that there will be a gas station nearby. If there is one, be prepared to pay for it – gas in the mountains is known for being extremely costly.
TIP: It never hurts to have some extra gas stored in the back of your car just in case!
2. Be extra considerate on the road
Respecting other drivers on the road will ensure that you’re staying alert and preventing potential collisions. Mountain roads are curvy, and sometimes it’s hard to see what’s coming around the bend.
TIP: Take extra precaution when passing vehicles, obey the speed limit, and dim your high beams if you’re driving at night when you see an oncoming vehicle.
3. Keep your engine cool
Your car can overheat when it’s driving on steep roads. Pulling your car over on occasion to let the engine idle for a few minutes will help minimize the chance of an overheated engine.
TIP: If you can’t pull over immediately, turn your car’s heater onto the highest setting – this will help reduce your risk of an overheated engine post-pulling over.
4. Take frequent breaks
Not only for the sake of your engine, but for the sake of your health! Driving on mountain roads requires your senses to be on par with every single moment, which can be exhausting.
TIP: It doesn’t hurt to pull over and give your body and mind a few minutes of relaxation to regroup. This is also a good opportunity to soak up the scenery.
5. Check the weather
Temperatures change with altitude, and weather conditions in the mountains can switch in an instant. Visibility from the inside of your car can go from clear to extremely foggy in seconds. It can be dangerous if you’re not expecting it. Staying on top of the forecast will ensure that you’re prepared for whatever the climate throws at you.
TIP: Spend some time getting familiar with your defogging system. With extreme variances in external temperatures, it only takes seconds for your windshield to fog up and impact your visibility. Make sure you know exactly what buttons to press when you notice it happening.
6. Map out your route
While a GPS system or Google Maps is helpful, the technology might let you down when you’re driving in a remote place.
TIP: Make sure your map is downloaded before you leave so that you don't have to rely on cell data. It's also a good idea to keep a spare map in the glove box.
7. Pack a roadside emergency kit
There’s nothing worse than getting stranded in secluded areas with car trouble. It can be dangerous if you're not prepared. Fortunately, you can find a great emergency kit in any auto store like Canadian Tire. Find one that fits neatly and discreetly in your trunk and keep it with you everywhere you go.
TIP: The most well-equipped emergency kit will come with a first-aid kit, tool kit, jumper cables, tow strap, fleece, water, blanket, poncho, and more. But you might want to add a power bank and charging cables to keep your smart devices charged if you need to call for help.
8. Look out for warning signs
Mountain roads will have various warning signs, so be alert and know what each sign means. You will see signs that will help you anticipate sharp or multiple curves in the road, areas with loose or falling rocks, and road surfaces that are slippery when wet. You could also see signs for animals that are native to that region; bears, elk, deer, ram, mountain goat, and bison to name a few.
TIP: When you see these animal crossing signs, drive cautiously to prevent a collision. And if you want to pull over for a break, it may be wise not to wander too far from your vehicle.
Roadtripping with a companion? Avoid boredom, tension, and potential fights with these 5 simple road trip tips for long drives.