Christmas Eve Day Storm Could Cause Travel Troubles

Staff Writer

The weather is getting interesting in Mammoth. Here's what you need to know about how to get there safely:

Here's a reminder of what the various chain requirements mean; R!, R2, R3. They can be confusing. Also, don't think the CHP isn't checking to see if you have them AND, don't think having a 4WD exempts you from having chains. You have to carry them, even if you are not required to put them on in every circumstance. Also, while you might not get stopped by CHP, we are hearing stories about people trying to get into Mammoth and getting turned around, then having to drive to Bishop or Crowley Lake to get chains, which is a royal pain and, risky since they might be out of the chains you need and it just puts you back on the road again, for even more exposure to risk. It's a lot easier to buy the chains and put them in the car before you leave and, make sure they fit. You can always hire someone to put them on for you once you get up here—there are people stationed along the roads near towns—but if they don't fit, it won't matter. Not even the best "chain monkey" can made the wrong chains fit! Go to: for more and remember, the number to call when you are traveling is 800-427-7623 - for up-to-the-minute information in California and Western Nevada (Lake Tahoe/Reno Area). The network is updated as conditions change, and is voice-activated for safety and convenience.

R1: Chains, traction devices or snow tires are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles.
R2: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels. (NOTE: Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
R3: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

You must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. You can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don't. You will usually have about a mile between "Chains Required" signs and the checkpoint to install your chains.
Control areas can change rapidly from place to place because of changing weather and road conditions.
The speed limit when chains are required is 25 or 30 miles an hour.
When you put on chains, wait until you can pull completely off the roadway to the right. Do not stop in a traffic lane where you will endanger yourself and block traffic.

Chain Installers: If you use the services of a chain installer, be sure to get a receipt and jot the installer's badge number on it. Remember, chain installers are independent business people, not Caltrans employees. Having the badge number may help with any misunderstandings later. Chain installers are NOT allowed to sell or rent chains.
When removing chains, drive beyond the signs reading "End of Chain Control" to a pull-off area where you can safely remove them.
Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN):