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View Full Version : Durango to Montrose via 550-got an updated report?


Alan & Jan
04-05-2021, 05:22 PM
We have a contract on the house so we should be FT by end of May 2021. I bought RVtripwizard for planner (if you have a better choice-please advise). We would like to take our 3701 from Durango to Montrose CO on hwy550. I found an 8 year old thread about the steepness and no guardrails but no one addressed the Ouray tunnel reputed to be 13'9" at (I assume) its peak. Our 5ver specs state its 13'4" which for this country boy is a bit close for comfort. 5" aint a bunch of play especially on the arc and elevation, etc possibly impacting inflation and thus height. If no issue, would prefer to see the gorgeous view from this route again but, will err on the safe vs sorry side w/another route if any question. Your personal experience w/a tall and long rig appreciated. See my signature for our toys.

CADman_KS
04-06-2021, 06:46 AM
I've been on that highway a lot, on motorcycles, and if the Ouray tunnel is where I'm thinking, while it might only be 13'9" at the peak, it's a fairly wide tunnel, so I don't think you'll have any issues there. There are semis on that road, although, not that many.

Be very careful on that highway. There are places on that road that are literally ZERO shoulder, and a 1000' down. There is a LINE, and the edge, and down. It is beautiful scenery there for sure. Unfortunately, the driver doesn't get to see any of it, because their concentration MUST be on the road.

Good luck, and safe travels!!!

Theunz
04-06-2021, 07:53 AM
I have not driven that road, but bridges and tunnels are marked with minimum height.

Alan & Jan
04-06-2021, 08:12 AM
thanks for the signage input

Alan & Jan
04-06-2021, 08:14 AM
I drove that rode with a 10' hunting trailer about 30 years ago. I recall it was pretty much white knuckle then and Im that much older now. Guess I will plot a new course. Thanks for your input.

BB_TX
04-06-2021, 09:10 AM
Sign says 13'-9". It is arched. If you stay in the center it appears it would be no problem.


https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g33581-d103395-i222773066-Uncompahgre_Gorge-Ouray_Colorado.html

CADman_KS
04-06-2021, 09:19 AM
Sign says 13'-9". It is arched. If you stay in the center it appears it would be no problem.


https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g33581-d103395-i222773066-Uncompahgre_Gorge-Ouray_Colorado.html

It's also not very long, and if you need to, you can wait to take up the center. You can see both sides at the same time...

CADman_KS
04-06-2021, 09:20 AM
I drove that rode with a 10' hunting trailer about 30 years ago. I recall it was pretty much white knuckle then and Im that much older now. Guess I will plot a new course. Thanks for your input.

It would definitely be white knuckle driving for sure, and I don't think that I would want to do it.

I've driven that road IN THE RAIN on a motorcycle, and I was never so glad to get off of a road, as I was that day. It was absolutely terrifying...

BB_TX
04-06-2021, 09:26 AM
Its been many many years since we last drove it, not towing. An incredibly beautiful drive. Although most of the trip it was "Bill, keep your eyes on the road!":lol:

The year after we drove it, a friend did the same. And there was a section where the highway, from the center line out, had slid off into the gorge. At one of the deepest drop offs on the highway! :eek:

Hornet28
04-07-2021, 11:11 AM
Sounds like a route with beautiful scenery.

Right in the middle of the whole damn show
Was a real nice tunnel
Now wouldn't you know
Sign says clearance to the 12-foot line
But the chickens was stacked to 13-nine
Well we shot that tunnel at a hundred-and-ten
Like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen
We took that top row of chickens off
Slicker than scum off a Louisiana swamp

CADman_KS
04-07-2021, 11:26 AM
Sounds like a route with beautiful scenery.

Right in the middle of the whole damn show
Was a real nice tunnel
Now wouldn't you know
Sign says clearance to the 12-foot line
But the chickens was stacked to 13-nine
Well we shot that tunnel at a hundred-and-ten
Like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen
We took that top row of chickens off
Slicker than scum off a Louisiana swamp

LOL! I haven't heard that C.W. McCall song in forever! I had to go and listen to it again!!!

Cbrez
04-07-2021, 01:48 PM
We wanted to drive that route last year but the sheriff in Silverton wouldn’t allow any non-residents to pass thru town (COVID), so we detoured around Silverton to the west. Route 145. Ended up being a blessing because Priest Gulch was one of the nicest campgrounds we stayed at on our trip. Our site backed right up to the Dolores river. Nothing close by, so if you go there stock up on whatever you need before you get there.

https://priestgulch.com/

scottz
04-07-2021, 03:28 PM
We live in the area, and have driven the route numerous times with the Montana; Silverton is our favorite place to camp. No problem with the tunnels (two short ones). The road is narrow, but not a problem. I drive it summer and winter pulling large trailers. However, drop offs are steep, if you have problems with heights, it is probably not for you.

I always call the Colorado road trip before heading out; the road can be closed due to winter conditions, rock slides or avalanche control. (303) 639-1111 opt 1, 550#.

An alternate route is CO 145 to Telluride, CO 62 to Montrose. It is about 65 miles longer. The scenery on this route is also fantastic, but not as great as Hwy 550. Either route has numerous places to boondock.

PS: you don't need guard rails if you stay on the road.:)

scattershot
04-07-2021, 03:51 PM
I know semis drive over that road, but I personally wouldn’t do it towing my 5th wheel. The comments above are not exaggerations.

Take 145 over Lizard Head Pass, then 62 I think it is to Ridgway, and you can pick up 550 from there into Montrose. It’s a beautiful drive, too, and a lot safer.

scottz
04-07-2021, 04:06 PM
Sounds like a route with beautiful scenery.

Right in the middle of the whole damn show
Was a real nice tunnel
Now wouldn't you know
Sign says clearance to the 12-foot line
But the chickens was stacked to 13-nine
Well we shot that tunnel at a hundred-and-ten
Like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen
We took that top row of chickens off
Slicker than scum off a Louisiana swamp

That CW McCall song is "Wolf Creek Pass", heading east from Durango; you get the picture but there are no low-clearance tunnels on either route. McCall's "The Silverton" is specifically about Hwy 550.

Trivia question: Who was the mayor of Ouray, Colorado (town between Durango and Montrose on Hwy 550) from 1986-1992 and still lives there? It wasn't Charlie Daniels who also lived in the area; we lost him last year.

scottz
04-07-2021, 04:18 PM
If anyone wants to stop by, we'll take the jeep and run Black Bear Pass. That's exciting and will really raise the pucker factor.

CADman_KS
04-07-2021, 04:25 PM
This is not my picture (from this link (https://www.travelawaits.com/2489953/colorado-million-dollar-highway/)), and I know EXACTLY where this is. This gives a pretty good perspective on what parts of the road are like. On the outside edge, there is literally NO shoulder...

https://www.montanaowners.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=8852&stc=1&d=1617830622

CADman_KS
04-07-2021, 04:27 PM
If anyone wants to stop by, we'll take the jeep and run Black Bear Pass. That's exciting and will really raise the pucker factor.

LOL! Blackbear raises my pucker factor, even on my KTM EXC 500 dual sport. I can't handle the top, coming down "The Steps". Once I'm past that point, I'm good to go, but getting past there gives me the willies...

CADman_KS
04-07-2021, 04:30 PM
...

Trivia question: Who was the mayor of Ouray, Colorado (town between Durango and Montrose on Hwy 550) from 1986-1992 and still lives there? It wasn't Charlie Daniels who also lived in the area; we lost him last year.

I didn't know. I had to look it up. The answer's in the post. :)

Hornet28
04-07-2021, 05:42 PM
That CW McCall song is "Wolf Creek Pass", heading east from Durango; you get the picture but there are no low-clearance tunnels on either route. McCall's "The Silverton" is specifically about Hwy 550.

Trivia question: Who was the mayor of Ouray, Colorado (town between Durango and Montrose on Hwy 550) from 1986-1992 and still lives there? It wasn't Charlie Daniels who also lived in the area; we lost him last year.

I don't remember hearing "The Silverton" before. But I heard "Wolf Creek Pass" just yesterday on Sirius radio

BB_TX
04-07-2021, 08:28 PM
Sounds like a route with beautiful scenery.

Right in the middle of the whole damn show
Was a real nice tunnel
Now wouldn't you know
Sign says clearance to the 12-foot line
But the chickens was stacked to 13-nine
Well we shot that tunnel at a hundred-and-ten
Like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen
We took that top row of chickens off
Slicker than scum off a Louisiana swamp
Getting off topic, but ....
They play that occasionally on Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius. I know there is a tunnel and a snow slide shed (that looks something like a tunnel) on the east side. Recently tried to find out if there ever was a tunnel on the west (Pagosa Springs) side but could find nothing about one. There is not one now. Did find that 47 semis crashed going down the west side from 2015 to 2019 killing 3 drivers. We passed a truck one year as he was pulling off the highway near the bottom with smoke boiling out of its trailer brakes. There are 2 run away truck ramps going down that west side. And they do get used.

scottz
04-07-2021, 11:02 PM
A few views near Hwy 550.

scottz
04-07-2021, 11:05 PM
In late July, the meadows are loaded with flowers for a couple weeks.

scottz
04-07-2021, 11:08 PM
A look at Black Bear Pass from Telluride (west side). And the welcome Telluride visitors got last year. The sign at the turn to Silverton was more emphatic; threatening jail if non-resident continued.

TomandMarilyn
04-11-2021, 02:36 PM
Some thoughts on enjoying the experience. (We have over 60,000 miles and 7 years of travel with our 3750FL. ) At highway speed, its difficult for the driver to enjoy to scenery. At your length, finding a safe place to pull over to take that perfect picture, is a challenge. As an alternative I would suggest taking the easiest route, set up camp, then explore with your truck alone.
We have used the 330 rule ( 330 miles or 3:30 pm) frequently setting up for 2 or 3 nights. That gives us one afternoon and at least one full day to explore. By following this plan, we take the thornless path and have enjoyed our life wandering America.

Alan & Jan
04-11-2021, 04:00 PM
Appreciate yours and all replies and are taking your advice. We already had a parameter of 6 hours or 300 miles max and will add the 3:30PM to that list. We are now retired and the main object now is to enjoy and never rush again if possible.

edbales
04-11-2021, 05:19 PM
Just a suggestion but I would not pull my 5ver across 550. Stay in Montrose or on the south side north of Durango or in the surrounding area. We dry camped a couple places. These folks that are brave towing 14000 behind a pickup ..well more power to them. We live not to far away up in Wyoming. We have driven it and many other mountain areas without the rig many times and it is gorgeous, in fact it's one of the most amazing scenic drives in the US. It is also going to be white knuckle a good part of the trip. Day trips from Montrose to Oray and Siverton are super fun not towing. The only scarier thing in the US is California 49. Shear drop off for a good bit of the trip.

P&Nsmith
04-14-2021, 09:35 PM
I know semis drive over that road, but I personally wouldnít do it towing my 5th wheel. The comments above are not exaggerations.

Take 145 over Lizard Head Pass, then 62 I think it is to Ridgway, and you can pick up 550 from there into Montrose. Itís a beautiful drive, too, and a lot safer.

I agree with Scattershot - Lizard Head Pass is just as beautiful and much safer. We lived for years in Ouray and now live summers in Montrose and winters in Port Aransas, TX. You will be able to get through the tunnel south of Ouray, but I was on the Ouray EMS and Mtn Rescue and have seen too many tragedies to risk that stretch. We always take the western route over Lizard Head with our Montana.

On a side note: Welcome to Montrose! Itís a great town with an excellent Montana dealer.

scattershot
06-19-2021, 04:26 PM
Just found an interesting video about this stretch of road. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/gd5SYDzXKKY