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Old 01-17-2016, 05:46 PM   #1
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Durango to Gunnison or Moab

Will be in Durango for the first half of May then eventually to Yellowstone. Was planning on going to Gunnison, but it does look like a simple route to Gunnison other than 550 (Million Dollar Highway), which I probably should avoid with a 40' 5er. Was even thinking about heading via Moab instead, since it seems like an easier drive to Moab and then north to Tetons/Yellowstone, plus get to vist Arches and Canyonlands. Any recommendation for best route or stops along the way would be appreciated, normally drive only 3-4 hours.
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Old 01-17-2016, 05:55 PM   #2
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There are many trucks that take the 550 thru Silverton and Ouray. I have seen many RV's and fifth wheels on the road and I have driven this route in a 35'RV many times. There are no turns too tight and only 1 tunnel near Ouray (not as much a tunnel as a "roof" to prevent rocks/slides from overhead. Just ensure brakes are good, use turnouts often and use low gear downhill (and have aux brakes on trailer).
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Old 01-17-2016, 07:29 PM   #3
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Note that it will probably be cold in Durango in early May. We have had snow on Memorial Day at least twice while camping in the area (one of our favorites). S long as the road to Ouray is without snow, you should be able to drive it, assuming you have some experience with mountain driving.
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Old 01-17-2016, 09:20 PM   #4
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We drove 550 with our 40' motorhome many times but wouldn't try it in May. However, there is another way by taking 160 west and tour Mesa Verde Nat'l Park then head north on 145 and 62 into Ridgway. 145 is easier than 550 but still, check out the weather first. 550 north from Ridgway is practically flat. Then take 50 east to Gunnison. Then backtrack and take 50 west to I-70, an easy drive. Then head north to Yellowstone.

From Durango to Moab you'd want to take 160 west (Mesa Verde Nat'l Park) and at Cortez pick up 491 to 191 north to Moab.
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Old 01-18-2016, 07:31 AM   #5
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Gunnison & Durango in May could get a little dicey with sketchy weather. I would definitely keep one eye on the weather. The same goes for Yellowstone end of May, or early part of June, call ahead to see which campgrounds are open. But I will say in our 3 visits to Yellowstone, the one we talk about most was when it had snow. It was beautiful.
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Old 01-18-2016, 04:02 PM   #6
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Gunnison & Durango in May could get a little dicey with sketchy weather. I would definitely keep one eye on the weather. The same goes for Yellowstone end of May, or early part of June, call ahead to see which campgrounds are open. But I will say in our 3 visits to Yellowstone, the one we talk about most was when it had snow. It was beautiful.

We have a cold weather package with dual pane windows, extra insulation and heated tank pads, so do not mind the snow and actually would love to see some especially in Yellowstone, just do not want to drive in it with an RV.
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Old 01-19-2016, 01:42 PM   #7
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I love Moab but then i tow with a land rover.
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Old 01-20-2016, 04:41 PM   #8
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I admit to being an old guy and I saw RV's and trucks on US550, but I was white knuckled in the car between Silverton and Ouray so no way I'd drive an RV over it. We're considering a visit to Gunnison so I look forward to any reports you make about the area if you end up there.
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Old 01-20-2016, 05:27 PM   #9
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Whether to drive a big rig over Red Mtn Pass (550) is a personal decision. Many do it, many others are terrified doing it. How comfortable are you and your travel companions looking over the edge of sharp curves with no guard rail and very little shoulder, down into a 1000 ft canyon.
The 145/62 alternate route is much more mellow, but still gets into the high country, which in May is still under winter conditions many years. Durango itself is at 6500 elv and in May will be 60 during day and around 32 overnight. Up on the passes its over 10,000 ft elev and a whole different world, 15-20 degrees colder with the roadway going through 6 ft high banks of snow along the edge.
If you've never been to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, off hwy 50 near Montrose, its certainly worth the time.
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Old 01-20-2016, 05:47 PM   #10
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We drove 550 with our 40' motorhome many times but wouldn't try it in May. However, there is another way by taking 160 west and tour Mesa Verde Nat'l Park then head north on 145 and 62 into Ridgway. 145 is easier than 550 but still, check out the weather first. 550 north from Ridgway is practically flat. Then take 50 east to Gunnison. Then backtrack and take 50 west to I-70, an easy drive. Then head north to Yellowstone.

From Durango to Moab you'd want to take 160 west (Mesa Verde Nat'l Park) and at Cortez pick up 491 to 191 north to Moab.
I also did 550 in my 45 ft truck conversion MH towing a vehicle behind. I would not call it enjoyable. Some very tight turns and roads with no real shoulder in many places. The bypass using 160/145/62 is a much nicer drive, although a little longer since you are going west, then north, then back east. Once in Ridgway no issues with 550.

The drive from 491 to 191 is very easy. Moab is a nice stop to spend a few days. Out of Moab, you can take 128 east which has incredible views along the river, which will intersect I-70 in eastern UT.
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