Santa Barbara, CA to Belgrade, MT for install

First post from a lurker.

Tomorrow at 6am I am leaving Santa Barbara, CA to get my GFC installed at the HQ in Belgrade. I am beyond excited, but growing up on the central coast of CA I have little to no experience driving in the snow (once drove in snow in AZ but it was nothing crazy).

I am driving a 22’ stock Tacoma TRD Off-Road long bed

Hoping for some recommendations or must haves for this 17 hour drive that I am splitting into 3 days.

My plan so far:

Leave tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 6am, make it to my buddies house in Las Vegas, spend the night there.

Monday, leave Las Vegas at 6am and start the trek to Salt Lake City. I plan on finding a home depot on my way out of NV to buy either sand bags or gravel bags. Got a tip from a friend that I need something to weigh my bed down once I get into the snowy/icy roads. Hoping to stop in Zion since I’ve never been, but will have to see how conditions are since the reports say lots of snow and I will be taking it easy, driving a reasonable pace.

Tuesday, after staying the night in a motel 6 in SLC, start my journey to Montana. Again, hoping to be able to stop in West Yellowstone but its expected to be pretty snowy and I am planning on driving carefully.

Wednesday, by this time I’ve made it to Belgrade. Planning on staying the night at another motel 6, and maybe hitting a brewery if there are ubers available. Camper gets installed the next morning.

Thursday, leave the motel 6, drive to GFC’s install location in the am and get the camper installed! Either start the drive home and hit any of the spots I might of missed/ didn’t have time for on my way up, or stay an extra 2 days for the Belgrade meet-up.

Any tips for driving in the snow, recommended stops, really any advice you have for before my trip is more than welcomed! Thanks in advance!

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I’m going there in January and thinking of adding weight in the back. My parents were very generous with me with my Christmas present with some extra cash. I was going to take the gamble and not get A/T tires and just run my stock ones. Your tires should be good since that trim comes with A/T but adding wait is a good idea. I’ll be spending Febuary in your neck of the woods.

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Pack extra food and water along with warm clothes (don’t forget gloves, socks and good shoes).

If you have recovery gear bring it (shovel and tow strap at a minimum) and in many areas it is illegal to drive in the winter months without being in possession of chains for the vehicle.

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Got some boots for the trip, been stocking up on warm clothes since the install date was scheduled. As far as chains, and I may be misinformed, I thought that was only if you don’t have 4x4. Do you know the areas that require them legally so I can buy them on the trip before then. I won’t have time to find them locally before I leave tomorrow early AM.

Also, thanks for the tips!!!

There are even places in CA this winter where they require chains even if you have 4x4 and snow rated tires. I assume it’s the same in other states. The 395 was that way a few weeks ago after a bad storm.

I got these: Peerless 0232805 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain - Set of 2

Maybe you can send them ahead of you. They fit my 33’s and make a bunch of sizes. If you look at the states roadway info websites they should tell you if you need chains. (Caltrans for example)

And welcome to GFC community from down the road in Ventura :wave:

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In the Sierra you are required to carry them. That said, after over 10 years of driving in the mountains up here I’ve never needed to install them on an AWD or 4WD vehicle. They will close the roads before they require 4wd with snow tires to install chains.

If you find yourself in a ditch though you can count on CHP asking if you have chains in your possession.


Well this may of saved this trip for me. Appreciate your wisdom! Out of curiosity, and I totally don’t expect you to know, are there any known dealers that sell chains? I don’t think I will have enough time ordering chains tonight to Vegas when I leave there early Monday morning. Hoping that maybe auto zone (that’s all I know from my area) or something similar would be a good bet when making the trek from SB to NV or from NV to the next stop.

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I couldn’t find anything that requires chains in Montana when I looked a few weeks ago.

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Local auto parts stores should have them. Autozone, orriellys, pep boys, etc. Just make sure they fit your tire size. They usually list the sizes on the box that they fit

Same as @stickyTaco said… I’ve never had to use mine. But it’s good insurance if you’re running stock tires


Lol having 4x4 dosnt mean you know how to drive in snow. Chains are a whole nother game.
One can buy single use chains online or at local shops, however I’d reccomend real chains. Living in Northern VT and all over the PNW they will come in handy.

Im a decent driver, but when chains are needed there is no other product that will get the job done.

Dont get cuaght without them…

I drove from SLC to Bozeman the week before Thanksgiving for my install. Pretty much the entire road around West Yellowstone (Highway 20 / 191) was covered in about an inch of ice. Not sure if this is typical but I would expect it. With 4x4 and careful driving it was totally fine for me. Stock F150 without any weight in the rear. If you haven’t driven in the snow once you start getting into it you could try finding an empty parking lot or wide space and go rip a few hard turns to see how your truck handles it, and get some experience with not overcorrecting a fishtail.

I didn’t carry chains and didn’t even consider getting them. Being on mostly highways (and pretty flat TBH) I think you will be fine.

Coming to SLC from Vegas you might hit some weather near Beaver going over the pass there so be prepared for it to take longer than typical. But the 15 usually stays pretty clear as long as there are no accidents.

As far as recommendations, pack your skis! Bad driving weather makes for fun skiing weather :slight_smile:

Hit me up if you want any more specific beta


Best advice I ever got about driving in the snow was from my grandfather. Drive like grandma is in the back seat with a full pot of hot soup and she’s already mad at you hahahaha. But weight in the back right over the rear axle is the best thing for light trucks. Have a 1st gen tundra and born and raised in eastern Wa and we get a lot of snow and a lot of drifts, Be cautious and use common sense you will do just fine

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I just drove from Salt Lake area to Belgrade for my install on 01 Dec (in a 22 Tacoma TRD Off Road). I don’t live in SLC but that is where I started. I grew up driving in snow. I would recommend considering staying on the interstate in lieu of traveling through West Yellowstone. According to my GPS routing it is about 15 minutes longer to continue north on 15 until you hit 90 and then head east to Belgrade (which looks a lot like backtracking on the map), but on 30 November it probably took 2 hours longer to go through West Yellowstone, and was certainly a more stressful drive in blowing snow. You’re at close to 8000’ on the road between West Yellowstone and Big Sky, so if you are concerned about snow I would stay on the interstate as much as possible. Not quite in keeping with a GFC, but maybe less stress inducing this time of year! There wasn’t snow in the forecast I saw for the days I travelled, but there was plenty falling down and blowing around between West Yellowstone and Big Sky! You might ask the GFC folks for some real local knowledge, but that was my recent experience. I stayed at the Super 8 in Belgrade and I’d do that again.

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You can buy chains at O’Reillys, and return them if they are unopened in bag. I did this last year for CA roads requiring chains. I went from Bay Area to Belgrade thru West Yellowstone Dec 9 last year and it was blowing snow and 20’s, Did fine with stock '21 TRD OffRoad 4X4 and did not need to put on chains, but it was some stressful driving in the dark with no cell signal, even tho I grew up driving in snow.


I would get some chains for sure. They are always good to have.

I got mine the weekend before Thanksgiving and drove back the following weekend.

On they way up there was ice on the smaller roads but weather was good. On the way back it snowed on us from Bozeman all the way to St George. Didn’t need the chains but if we had been driving longer into the night we would have.


How’d the trip go? Gonna be making the same drive later this month to big sky

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I traveled from Yucaipa Ca to Belgrade for the factory install. fun trip! got lots of snow thru Idaho into Montana, but I put the Gladiator in 4 hi and cruised. was -8 in Montana. lets just say I dint need any extra ice in the yeti. it was frozen solid. Great folks at GFC and I LOVE the camper!! def would do it again but in summer lol

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You should for sure make it up to Montana for one of our meetups this summer! We’ll keep you posted, and there are some changes to come to the forum to make these types of events a bit more obvious. Check out our meetups category if you’re looking to connect with more folks in your area too.

Looking forward to seeing photos of that Gladiator soon too! :call_me_hand:

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That thing is a beast! Might be headed to Phoenix/ Buckeye area next month, so if you’re close we should link up. Would love to see that in action!