Safety Tips for Driving in the Mountains

Excited about your trip to the mountains? Well, before you throw your bags in the car and put the pedal to the metal, remind yourself that driving windy mountain roads requires caution! You’ll be dealing with two-lane roads, unpredictable weather, and–of course–other drivers. If it’s your first time, don’t worry! It’s nothing you can’t handle.

Here are our mountain driving tips to ensure a smooth and safe trip. If you’re coming to stay at a Get Lost Inn cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains, feel free to reach out about your drive. We’re happy to answer any questions!

Watch for Wildlife

Be cautious of wildlife while winding through the mountains. The roads often cut through areas densely populated with animals, and you should always be ready for the unexpected.

Blind turns are the big enemy. One minute you’re cruising along with nothing in sight, and the next moment you’re face to face with a deer. So, when taking these turns, don’t floor it; drive as if there is going to be something, and keep yourself safe.

At night, it’s best to keep driving to a minimum or avoid it altogether. Wildlife is hard to see in the dark, and it’s when most animal collisions happen.

Watch for wildlife

Slow Down for Turns

Whoa! Take it easy on these turns! Mountain roads are unforgiving. Speeding around corners puts you at risk of driving off the edge. When you’re going downhill, it’s easy to pick up momentum and find yourself coming in too hot.

Slow it down well before reaching a turn, and be smart about it. Slamming the brakes is an easy way to lose control of your vehicle. And what’s the hurry? Enjoy the gorgeous scenery while you can!

Let Faster Drivers Pass (Turnouts)

If you’re not accustomed to mountain driving, chances are you will not be the fastest driver on the road. That’s okay! But don’t be surprised if locals start tailgating behind you. They’re used to these roads and often have the appropriate vehicles to handle them.

Instead of slowing down traffic, use the turnouts to let faster drivers pass. It’s a courteous thing to do and will prevent people from having to veer into the wrong lane to get around you.

It can be a little stressful when a vehicle clearly wants you to get out of the way. Stay calm, and don’t drive any faster than you are comfortable going. There are plenty of pullouts, and the person behind you will survive driving a bit slower for a minute or two.

Check Weather Forecast Before Leaving

The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable. Before you ascend, it can appear to be a bright sunny day, but as you climb higher and higher, a storm may be waiting for you.

The easiest way to prepare yourself is to check the weather forecast before leaving–simple! Even if you’re only an hour or two away from the mountains, you still need to check. Areas at high elevations beat to their own weather drum, and it’s best not to take chances.

As always, feel free to ask us at Get Lost Inn what the weather is like in the San Bernardino Mountains on your travel day!

Fill Up on Gas and Have Snacks

Gas stations along mountains road can be few and far between. Be sure to fill up your tank before climbing up to your destination. Since you’ll be driving on two-lane roads, landslides and accidents can cause traffic jams, and you don’t want to be pushing it on Empty if that happens. It would also be a good idea to stock up on snacks and drinks for the trip in case you are stuck in the snow or in a traffic jam!

Driving Trips in the Winter

Winter Driving Tips

Use Snow Chains

It doesn’t get much better than taking a trip to the snowy mountains, but snow, ice, and rain change the road conditions road–big time. Driving on an icy road requires serious caution, and you will need to install snow chains to your vehicle’s tires. They’re available at stores like Walmart and AutoZone. Even if you don’t think conditions will require you to use them, you should have a pair on hand in case anything changes.

Remember that you need to practice installing the chains at home before you head to the mountains. It is difficult to put your chains on for the first time in a blizzard. So, practice at home first. Depending on weather and road conditions, there will be a designated spot where you are required to use snow chains before driving any farther.

*Oh! And never install snow chains in the middle of the road. Safely pull off onto the shoulder or a turnout before stopping and getting out of your vehicle. Safety first!

Use CalTrans for Updates

On your way to your Get Lost Inn cabin in California, use the CalTrans QuickMap App for updates on road conditions. You can enter the highway you will be driving on to get specific information, such as if chains are required, and see what traffic will be like as well as see the snow plows being tracked. It’s a handy little tool you can rely on for reliable information when you need it most, especially if one of the four highways is closed and you need to take a different road to your destination.

Don’t Block Snowplows (Parking)

When you reach your cabin, park in the driveway, not the street. Snowplows can’t do their job if cars are in their way, and it prevents the road from being plowed–not an ideal scenario! So, in the winter, driveway, driveway, driveway!

Watch for Snow Plows

Final Driving Advice

We know you’re excited to get up to the mountains, and we’re excited for you! But we want to make sure you have a safe drive and get here in one piece.

  • Keep an eye out for wildlife
  • Fill up with gas at the bottom of the mountain
  • Take turns nice and easy
  • Let faster drivers pass
  • Use chains in the winter
  • Check weather conditions
  • Don’t block snowplows

Follow those steps, and you’re set for a great driving experience!