I have received several phone calls and emails in the last couple of weeks asking me about driving conditions on US Route 89. These inquiries have come from as close as Prescott, Arizona, and as far away as Brisbane, Australia. I am pretty knowledgeable about the various sections of 89, but I found myself struggling to provide information about whether a specific section was likely to be snow covered or clear.

That got me to thinking. What else is a blog for but to answer such questions and be a timely resource of travelers. So I started searching the internet for the best and most authoritative websites. Here is what I found:

All five of the states through which Highway 89 passes—Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Arizona—are part of the 511 telephone travel information system. The system is simple to use. When you are in a state, dial 5-1-1 from any phone. You will be connected to recorded information on current road conditions including construction delays and weather related problems in that state. You can navigate these systems using voice commands or the dial pad. The recordings are updated frequently so you will get the most current information. For more about the 511 system, go to the Federal Highway Administration website.

As part of the 511 Traveler Information system, each state maintains a website and a telephone number for calls from outside of the state.

Montana Road Condition Map

An example of a Montana road condition map from January 20, 2011

Montana Department of Transportation Traffic Info: http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/
Toll Free Nationwide:
TTY: 1-800-335-7592
Highway Patrol
: 1-800-525-5555
This website has all the information a traveler could need to plan for driving conditions. There is a very cool interactive map that allows you to specify your travel route between cities which then indicates the road and weather conditions.

Wyoming Travel Information Service: http://www.wyoroad.info/index.html
Toll Free Nationwide:
The Wyoming website provides information by city or by route. It is not as detailed as some other sites, but it gets the job done.

Idaho Transportation Department: http://511.idaho.gov/
Toll Free Nationwide:
While only 40 miles of US 89 cuts across the southeastern corner of Idaho, this website provides current information two ways: Streamlined for slow internet connections and older browsers and Full Featured for fast broadband connections and current browsers.

Utah Road Conditions Map

An example of a Utah road condition map with web cam from January 20, 2011

Utah Commuter Link: http://www.utahcommuterlink.com/
Toll Free Nationwide:
1-866-511-UTAH (8824)
The Utah Commuter Link website has an interactive map on the home page that gets you quickly to the information you need. You can added various symbols to the map such as weather and incidents. The map also shows all of the road cameras. Quick on a camera and the view appears in a window on the page so you get an instant view of actual road conditions.

Arizona Department of Transportation: http://www.az511.com/
Toll Free Nationwide:
1-888-411-ROAD (7623)
Arizona’s website is well organized and easy to navigate. There is a scrolling box on the home page with High Impact Traffic Alerts. Click to expand the listing for details, then click Go To Map to see the location.

For detailed weather information, I prefer Weather Underground. Search for a city by name or zip code for a five day forecast. One cool feature, is the new road trip planner. You can input up to four cities with the dates and times of your trip. Hit the Get Directions and Weather button and your trip is mapped out complete with weather and temperatures along the route. When you click on a weather symbol, a box pops with details such as chance of precipitation and significant weather. Weather Alerts are also highlighted in red in the driving directions. You can’t get more customized than that. Of course, you’ll get the best forecast from this planner the closer you are to the start of your trip.

Weather Underground Trip Plan Map

A Weather Underground Road Trip Plan Map for a trip from Jackson, WY, to East Glacier, MT, from January 21 to 23, 2011

If your trip includes visiting one or more of the National Parks and Monuments along US 89, you’ll find weather and road condition information on each of the parks websites. These sites will give you specific road closures and restrictions within the park. Also check the Plan Your Visit section for year round information. You will find links to the parks and monuments websites on the 89 Road Trip Links page.

I hope this makes your road trip planning easier and that you have a safe and enjoyable journey on US Route 89.

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