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Old 03-19-2007, 12:59 PM   #1
KBLH
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Trip to Colorado

We are planning on going to Colorado, leaving San Antonio, Texas this June. We will spend time in Durango, Silverton and then leave for Ouray....go on to Grand Junction and finally Estes Park. I have been told that the ~70 miles to Ouray was a "White Knuckle Experience!" Any of you with knowledge of what we are in for? Would you advise to leave the Monty in Durango and do a day trip to Ouray. We could then re-route ourself to Estes Park by safer roads. Thanks for any help.

Kelly & Larry
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Old 03-19-2007, 01:45 PM   #2
bsmeaton
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Kelly & Larry,

Enjoy Colorado! I wouldn't hesitate to run that route (550), as long as the snow has melted. It's not flat, but it's not too bad. I think there are steeper pulls on I-70 into Denver.

Telluride is a neat little stop in - near Ouray.
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:03 PM   #3
jrgwdenner
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Now, Brad, just WHEN does that snow melt in Colorado? We're hoping to pull from Moab, UT to Longmont just after the first of May. Should we bring skis?
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:34 PM   #4
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That is one of the great and most beautiful drives I've ever been on. Enjoy it and let us know what you think! I would live in Ouray if I had unlimited funds, much like Brad!

mac
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:37 PM   #5
bsmeaton
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hahaha - I think you should always have some skis handy in Colorado - I've seen in snowing on the 4th of July up there!

Seriously, even though we got tons of snow here in the foothills this year, my friend that is a ski instructor at Vail says they have almost lost all of thier base and may have to close early!

Relatives in Longmont?
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Old 03-19-2007, 04:52 PM   #6
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MAC -

What funds - I don't have anymore money - I drive a Ford and pull a Monty! .

Ouray is beautiful - have you ever come into Ouray by 4X4 from Lake City? I did by mistake once (lost) and it was a pleasant surprise.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:45 PM   #7
jrgwdenner
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Yup, Glen's niece and her family live in Longmont. We're looking forward to driving through Colorado.
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:49 PM   #8
KBLH
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Brad and Dory,

Ok....I just read that the stretch of 550 I was refering to is only 20ft. wide with drop offs on either side....your sure about this??? Also, where are the steeper parts of 70 going to Denver.

Kelly & Larry
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Old 03-19-2007, 05:54 PM   #9
Mac
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Brad,

Last summer when we were up that way someone in a rented jeep asked me about that road and I couldn't help them. I guess you should have been there to assist.

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Old 03-19-2007, 06:23 PM   #10
bsmeaton
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Kelly and Larry - Wow, I sure don't remember that on 550 - but it's been awhile since I went that way. It's the only way between Durango and Grand Junction without going way around, and it's shown as a major highway. Perhaps somebody that has travelled it recently can jump in.

From Grand Junction to Denver on I-70 you'll hit Vail Pass and Loveland Pass. Both are good pulls and steep descents. Then, once you get through Idaho Springs towards Evergreen, it just goes down-down-down. My DW and I were pinned to the seats the first time we towed the Monty back home down that last stretch. Big flashing signs telling truckers DONT CHANGE GEARS YET! and ANOTHER 7 MILES 8% GRADE and KEEP RIGHT LANE CLEAR FOR RUNAWAY TRUCKS and finally DEER CROSSING! I told my DW that deer ain't got a chance!

It's actually not as bad as the signs make it seem though. We travel it all the time now.

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Old 03-19-2007, 06:34 PM   #11
KBLH
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Geeze.....this is sure making me want to see Colorado!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-20-2007, 08:27 AM   #12
Clyde n Deb
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Highway 550 (aka the Million Dollar Highway) over Red Mountain Pass is probably the most scenic beautiful drive in Colorado. (IMO)
It is a 2 lane paved highway with 5-10 mph switchbacks in places up near the old mines. There are no guardrails in many places. I have traveled the road for over 30 years. Whether you want to tackle it would depend on the condition of your equipment, your 5er experience on challenging roads, and your patience. There are actually campgrounds up near the top of the pass. A day trip to Ouray would be a must if you don't tow thru there. The narrow gauge railroad also runs round trip to Silverton daily from Durango.
There's really no easy alternative given your trip itinerary, short of a long detour into Utah up through Moab, then back to GJ.
Give the wife some Tylenol, and have some cold sedatives for the end of the trip, and have fun!
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Old 03-20-2007, 04:19 PM   #13
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IMO I would drop the 5th in Durango and take a day trip to Silverton/Ouray. Then head West on hwy 160 to Cortez and pick up hwy 491 West. Just past Dove Creek I would take hwy 141 North all the way up to hwy 50 at Whitewater. This is a beautiful drive that requires time to see all of the scenery and it is not difficult.

Then just a short hop into GJ on hwy 50. If I needed a RV park, I would stay on hwy 141 into Clifton instead of taking hwy 50 into GJ. This park http://www.go-colorado.com/RV-Ranch-at-Grand-Junction/ is rated 5 stars.

Staying at this park, I could get on I70 (1/2 mile away - exit 37) and head west to exit at the various exits into GJ.
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Old 03-21-2007, 04:53 AM   #14
Clyde n Deb
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ARJ: Thanks for showing them another alternative. I haven't been up that road since the mid '70s and don't remember a lot about it. I should run it again one of these days, I've been wanting to see that car museum in Gateway.

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Old 03-21-2007, 07:24 AM   #15
KBLH
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I posted another thought in a different forum, that being either going to Durango/Silverton/Ouray OR just Estes Park. After many replys and looking at the map again, we are wondering about this other route...see below

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
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Old 03-21-2007, 07:40 AM   #16
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There is nothing to worry about on I70. The probability of bad weather is pretty small and at that time of year there would be plenty of hwy people to take care of anything. If you want to get to Estes without going through the park, take I70 east from GJ and get off at Central City and then take hwy 119 to hwy72 and then on to hwy 7 to Estes. Estes in the summer is one great big tourist destination (read lots of people).

How much time do you have????
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Old 03-21-2007, 07:46 AM   #17
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Clyde n Deb

ARJ: Thanks for showing them another alternative. I haven't been up that road since the mid '70s and don't remember a lot about it. I should run it again one of these days, I've been wanting to see that car museum in Gateway.

The scenery there (Uravan to Gateway) is kind of like a mini Canyonlands. Have not been to the museum but Gateway is getting pretty good what with the money coming from Hendricks (Discovery channel guy) and Unaweep canyon has great scenery coming from the West.
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Old 03-21-2007, 08:11 AM   #18
bsmeaton
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Kelly - Don't worry about I-70, you'll do fine. The new route you selected (160) will take you over our famous Wolf Creek Pass! (truckers made a song about that one) I pulled our new Monty home over Wolf Creek in January, and it's a piece of cake - but so is I-70. (to be honest I've pulled the Monty with the boat attached to the back over both)

Estes Park is nice, but I would actually prefer the Silverton-Ouray area if I had to pick.
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Old 03-21-2007, 09:10 AM   #19
KBLH
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Thanks Brad....you are definately building my confidence. We are going to leave both routes open for discussion since the trip wont be until June. I just wish you had not disclosed your colorful interpretation of the end of the ride !!!! LOL

"Big flashing signs telling truckers DONT CHANGE GEARS YET! and ANOTHER 7 MILES 8% GRADE and KEEP RIGHT LANE CLEAR FOR RUNAWAY TRUCKS and finally DEER CROSSING! I told my DW that deer ain't got a chance!"

Maybe what I should do is have your DW give me her advise on this subject....

Kelly
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Old 03-21-2007, 09:39 AM   #20
bsmeaton
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hahahahha - she didn't remember much - she was hiding in the back seat!

Really, the truck geared down and descended very nicely. I needed to mention all the signs, because that's really how it is. First timers would get intimidated pretty easy. The biggest hazard is other traffic as you get closer to Denver. The highway is 8-lanes wide in most places, but the cars have a tendancy to zig zag in and out of traffic to serve there own means, without much regard for your ability to stop or slow down. Travel in the lane next to the right lane. Leave the far right lane for those that need to exit or enter the highway.

Isn't it funny how no matter where we live, we go out of state for vacation. I feel guilty I haven't traveled up 550 for the last 15 years, and its right in my back yard.

Brad
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