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Old 03-20-2007, 06:25 AM   #1
KBLH
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Ouray vs Estes Park

Of you out there who have gone to both places....if you had to pick just one to go to which has the most scenic drive...most to do? We were planning on going to Durango/Silverton prior to Ouray so that would be part of that trip. We wanted to do both but are hesitant about the drive separating the two towns and are on a limited time frame.

Thanks,
Kelly
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Old 03-20-2007, 07:03 AM   #2
AZCampinfool
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Kelly, this doesn't help you now, but we are going to do both in July, Estes Park first, then Ouray, Silverton/Durango etc. I will be interested to see what others say also.
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:46 AM   #3
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Not to imply that I have a complete answer, but only a few comments:

=> We have been to both places a good many times. It's a bit like comparing apples and oranges: both good but different. We have never been to Ouray with our fifth-wheel. We have stayed there in B&B and motels. It is a quaint little mountain town. Coming in from the north is flat and level (for Colorado). The mountains loom up on the southern horizon. Coming in from the south (Durango/Silverton) is a different matter. This route is called the "Million Dollar Highway", and the last few miles coming down into Ouray would surely call for good driving (to say the least!)

On the other hand, as you no doubt are aware, Ouray is near Silverton and in an entirely different part of the state than is Estes Park. The mountains on the route to Ouray are the San Juans and more specifically the "Needle Mountains". Spectacular! We have backpacked many times in the San Juans and once got off the Durango/Silverton narrow gauge railway and hit the trail up Needle Creek.

Ouray is a much smaller community than Estes Park and for many of us that is an advantage. It is noted for glorious wildflowers in season and for jeep trips (rental or 'we drive').

==> Estes Park is many miles north, as you no doubt know, and is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and the Trail Ridge Road. We were there last summer with our fifth-wheel for the first time. In fact we towed up the "peak to peak" highway and found it also to be a most senic drive. Much more comercialized (in my view) than Ouray, but that also means many more opportunities. Several large RV parks in Estes Park; I believe only one in Ouray.

As for my personal rating, I put them on a par: different but of equal attractiveness. They rate high in my all time favorites. I could go on and on, but maybe this will be a start.

And, if you have a specific question about either, I just might have a comment if not an answer. We've been going to Colorado for more than 50 years: cabins, motels, camping, backpacking, and now RVing.
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Old 03-20-2007, 03:14 PM   #4
nkwist
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Been to both and prefer the "Million Dollar Highway". It's truly spectacular.
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:33 PM   #5
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We've been to both and both have the + points. BOTH have great scenery!
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Old 03-21-2007, 02:59 AM   #6
awaywego
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We have dome both. As previously stated it is hard to say one is more senic than the other. Both drives are beautiful.
When we went to Silverton and Ouray we left the monty in Durango and when we did Rocky Mountain NP to Tuluride we left the monty and just made day trips.
This way we enjoyed the trip without having to pull over the mountains. The road from Durango to Silverton and coming into Ouray is a steep pull.
This I know was not much help. I would suggest pick one to do this time and do the other when you can. You can't go wrong with which ever you pick.
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:24 AM   #7
KBLH
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Thanks to everyone for all the information so far....We will take the advise on leaving the monty and doing day trips. After looking at the map again last night we saw another possibility. Have any of you gone from Durango to 160 to 285 then work your way up to Estes Park? This seems like it would be on the outskirts of the mountains for a good part of the trip but possibly safer than Hwy 70..... I know, y'all are probably thinking..."whimps"...problem is...we're from "deep in the heart of Texas" where our "mountains" are just in the Hill Country.....there will be 2 couples, a kid, and an 80 year old Great grandma.....I'd hate for my mom to go into shock to the point that we'd have to bring her back tied to a rocking chair on top of the truck....(aka...National Lampoon's Vacation) LOL

Kelly
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:38 AM   #8
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Kelly, A few comments:

==> Your Grandma is 5 years older than I, so I don't know about her ability to take the mountain roads !

==> I am familiar with the route you are considering and have towed our Montana over much of it. Highway 160 crosses over Wolf Creek Pass between Pagosa Springs and South Fork. We towed our Montana over that pass two years ago. There was construction on both ends of the pass, but we did not have unreasonable delay. It is a mountain road, no doubt about that, but I wouldn't hesitate a minute to travel it again.

Interesting, our route was exactly as you have described: to meet up with US 285 (We took Colorado 112 at Del Norte to get over to 285). 285 climbs gradually out of the San Luis Valley over a gentle pass into Poncha Springs. Our daughter lives in Buena Vista so that was our stopping place for that particular journey.

==> However, we pulled our Montana from Buena Vista up to Estes Park last September so I will comment on the route we took. We did not want to follow 285 on up to Denver because of the urban congestion, so we took US 24 up to Leadville, then Colorado 91 over the pass to connect with I70 near Frisco. We exited I70 just east of Idaho Springs and took US 6 to connect with Colorado 119 which is called the "Peak to Peak Highway". It is constant curves and much up and down but no difficult passes. I would not hesitate to make that route again. The scenery along that drive is spectacular. At Nederland the route number becomes 72, but is still called the "Peak to Peak Highway" (119 goes off to the east) Just past Raymond, you enter Colorado 7 for the final leg of the journey into Estes Park.

==> Summary: on your contemplated route Wolf Creek Pass is a serious mountain pass but plenty of room--not like the Million Dollar Highway into Ouray. After that the rest should be no problem at all. You may want to go through Denver, but we did not and I do highly recommend the "Peak to Peak Highway". Just don't try to rush, it is nothing like our highways in Texas.

==> If you have any more specific questions, you might want to email me using my profile, or send a "private message" from that same place.
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:54 AM   #9
KBLH
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Thanks Dave.....you have really help us out with your info. BTW...mom won't be doing any of the driving thru the mountains....only sitting in the backseat with her eyes closed
Kelly
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Old 03-22-2007, 05:28 AM   #10
Clyde n Deb
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Durango/Ouray area over Estes Park. No contest.
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Old 03-22-2007, 07:59 AM   #11
padredw
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Just in case you wanted to stay in Ouray rather than in Durango and take the day trip down to Durango, there is another route which avoids the "Million Dollar Highway". That is to take US 50 over Monarch Pass (Through Salida and Gunnison to Montrose) Then take US550 SOUTH into Ouray. I mention this because we have friends who do that all the time.

In fact, coming from Texas, I would take Colorado Hwy 69 at Walsenburg and go more directly into Salida. It's not the best highway in the world, but saves a good many miles over going on up to Pueblo. I do it all the time (at least a couple of times a year) pulling our Montana.

This is NOT a suggestion but to give another alternative which some find preferable to go with an RV to Ouray.
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Old 03-22-2007, 03:44 PM   #12
KBLH
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Clyde n Deb,

I'm getting the feeling Ouray will be my favorite spot of the trip. I've looked at so much lately about it and just can't wait to see it.
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Old 03-22-2007, 03:49 PM   #13
KBLH
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Padredw,

Thanks for the alternate route....hey, we're taking all the info down and checking it over. Hopefully when the 2 weeks are done and we're back home we will feel like we had a great trip.
I'm wondering now if we're making a mistake on only taking 2 weeks to do this....it's terrible that it takes SO long just to get out of Texas!!!!

Kelly
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Old 03-23-2007, 02:29 AM   #14
ARJ
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Two weeks is a short time to do everything you want to do! Remember that your Mom probably will not enjoy driving as far each day as you are capable of. When we were younger driving 10-12 hrs each day was a no brainer. Now 6-8 hours is almost too much.
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Old 03-23-2007, 06:52 AM   #15
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You will absolutely love the entire trip from Durango to Ouray, especially the "Million Dollar Highway". Unfortunately for me, I'll never get to take that trip again, because it absolutely terrified my wife. The $1,000,000 highway has stunning views, but it's about 1,000 ft straight down with little or no guard rails (at least when we went there 8 years ago or so). I tried holding my wife's hand while driving it, but she wanted me to have both hands on the wheel. Bottom line, you'll love the trip as long as the passenger is not afraid of heights. You'll love Durango, Silverton and Ouray. You know the waterfall on Coor's beer is the waterfall in Ouray. You should also take the small gauge train from Durango to Silverton and back (save a day for that trip, it's awsome).
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:43 AM   #16
KBLH
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[quote]Originally posted by Rockerdude

You will absolutely love the entire trip from Durango to Ouray, especially the "Million Dollar Highway". Unfortunately for me, I'll never get to take that trip again, because it absolutely terrified my wife.

Rockedude.....that was the most convincing thought I have read in all the posting thus far!!!!!!!!! Once again I'm convinced that women are more of sound minds We were LOL while reading your tale of adventure....If we take the trailer, I'm afraid that after we got to Ouray, Mom and I wouldn't be able to tell you what the drive looked like...she would still be walking from Durango after getting out of the truck...and I, would be taking care of my bleeding knuckles because I was on the side that "have little or no guardrails" Just in case we do go....I'll have Larry write back to you and let you know if the way up has changed since you were there...scratch that...I would have been yelling at him to keep his eyes on the road. So he wont see it either. Maybe we should just buy a Coor's Beer and look at the picture!
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:45 AM   #17
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You can still get to Ouray by coming from the north (through Montrose). It is a beautiful little town. I would still try and go to Durango and then if heights are a problem, then take the steam train from Durango to Silverton. It takes a day to do the round trip, but you will love it and the beauty of the ride.
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Old 03-26-2007, 02:52 PM   #18
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The reason there are no guardrails on Red Mountain pass is it's so narrow the snowplows have to be able to push the snow OFF the mountain. They couldn't with the guardrails in place. There is a monument somewhere along the pass honoring a snowplow driver that drove off the mountain pushing snow several years ago.

It's a beautiful road but I've never pulled a trailer over it. I have driven a Class C towing a car but just not towed the 5ver. Last summer we went over to the western slope and stayed in Montrose and Gunnison and drove the pickup all over that side of the "hill". The old gasser never got better mileage than it did on the western slope, both towing and empty.

I highly recommend you drive the Million Dollar highway sometime in your life!

mac
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Old 03-27-2007, 07:29 AM   #19
simonsrf
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Just Two Cents:

I went to college at Fort Lewis College in Durango (1968-69). Many weekends I traveled between Aspen (home) and college over Red Mountain, Molas, and Coal Bank passes. There are several 10 mph curves that are very steep. I donít think I would be comfortable towing over these passes.

Robbie
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