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Old 07-16-2015, 10:06 AM   #1
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550 from Durango,CO -> Silvertaon ->Ouray -> Montrose?

I'll be towing a 33 foot TT from Austin,TX to Fuita,CO and Moab,UT.

I'm comfortable towing it, but have not towed it up/down mountain passes to date.

My initial thought was to skirt west of the Rockies in Albuquerque,NM, then take the 550 up through Durango, on to Montrose.

Has anyone taken this route? Any issues or suggestions?

Another option would be to hit CO in Trinidad on I-25 then head to Salida.CO on 50. That leaves me with Monarch Pass to crest to be on the West side of the Rockies where we want to be.

I'd appreciate any and all advice on route planning.
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:29 AM   #2
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The Million Dollar Highway can be a white knuckle experience if you're not used to mountain driving and extremely steep drop offs. The direction you'd be traveling (north bound) would place you on the inside of the road, where it would "feel" a bit safer. Commercial trucks/buses travel the road daily, so it can be done. There are no barriers on the outside of the road to keep vehicles contained. Here's a link that will give you an idea as to what you'd be facing:

Million Dollar Highway

The scenery is beautiful, and this is one of our favorite places in Colorado. We live in Pagosa Springs, and take this road fairly often, but normally in our car, rather than our motor home.

Monarch Pass is far less stress inducing. Here's a video of a drive on that road:

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Old 07-16-2015, 10:41 AM   #3
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Yes, this type of information is VERY helpful.

Maybe we could take 550 north, and then 50 across the Continental Divide to I25 south on the return trip.

Then again I just looked at the link you provided for the 550.... I think I just lost my lunch thinking about it.
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Old 07-16-2015, 10:56 AM   #4
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We have traveled 550 both ways, Durango to Montrose towing a 33 ft 5th wheel and we like to stay in Ouray. I never considered it a huge challenge, but then again, I took our first trip on the "Million Dollar Highway" without consulting anybody other than the road map. Couple of fairly steep passes, like Red Mountain and the road is a little twisty and no guard rails, as guard rails would hamper snow plow operations. If you are traveling in the fall, the aspens are well worth the trip but keep an eye on the weather. Monarch Pass is also worth the trip. We are planning on going both routes in September, we are hoping to see the newly rebuilt Royal Gorge center. I would say go for it, if you love beautiful scenery and don't have nervous passengers!!
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:02 AM   #5
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If you get the opportunity to make the drive up/down 550, I would highly recommend it. Leave the RV at home and make a trip of it. Like the link Pagosajoe shared, enjoy the scenery from the passenger seat. I was headed north on 550 just this last February and ran into a great deal of law-enforcement/search and rescue, all on the same stretch of road and looking down the cliff. I never looked into what happened, so one can only assume the worst.

Like the article says, it is possible to take your RV up the pass. Over the years I've taken more than a few 18-wheelers up that road, but it is definitely a bit... stressful. It is significantly more enjoyable in a pickup or motorcycle.
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Old 07-16-2015, 03:45 PM   #6
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You could take 550 to Durango, west on 160 to Cortez, north on 145 to Placerville, to Ridgeway on 62, rejoin 550 to Montrose, Grand Junction and Fruita. We used that route a few years back, very scenic drive, Lizard Head Pass is quite doable.


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Old 07-16-2015, 10:05 PM   #7
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You could take 550 to Durango, west on 160 to Cortez, north on 145 to Placerville, to Ridgeway on 62, rejoin 550 to Montrose, Grand Junction and Fruita. We used that route a few years back, very scenic drive, Lizard Head Pass is quite doable.
This is the route I'd recommended if you didn't like the looks of 550.

You could also consider a stop for Mesa Verde Nat'l Park and the cliff dwellings just east of Cortez.
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:46 AM   #8
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As others have mentioned, Lizard Head Pass is a good road, will take you through Telluride, then back to 550 and on to Montrose.

Yet another option is to go from Durango to Cortez, then up to Moab, catch I70 east to Fruita. We've done that many times, and it's all essentially flat roads. Not knowing your ultimate destinations, that route at least ties Moab and Fruita together.

Our favorite RV destination in Fruita is the James Robb Colorado River State Park, right by the Colorado River. Spacious sites, easy access to downtown Fruita, and the Colorado National Monument. We'll be there in October.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Maps and Directions

Have fun!
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:32 PM   #9
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I like that idea of skirting the 550. I tried to do that on the way home.

If we decide we don't want to hit Salida at all, I may take that option.

Currently, here is what we have planned:

ROUTE

Code:
Day	Travel Time	Travel Distance	Start	Stop	Campground	Address
1	9	466	Austin,TX	Amarillo,TX	Amarillo KOA	Amarillo KOA Campground, 1100 Folsom Road, Amarillo, TX 79108
2	7	366	Amarillo,TX	Coaldale,CO (Salida)	Cutty's Hayden Creek RV Resort	Cutty's Resort, 3428 Hayden Creek Road, Coaldale, CO 81222
3	0		Salida, CO	Salida,CO		
4	5	223	Coaldale,CO (Salida)	Fruita,CO	James M Robb Colorado River SP	James M. Robb - Colorado River State Park, 595 Colorado 340, Fruita, CO 81521
5	0		Fruita,CO	Fruita,CO		
6	0		Fruita,CO	Fruita,CO		
7	2	104	Fruita,CO	Moab,UT	ACT Campground & Environmental Learning Center	ACT Campground & Environmental Learning Center, 1536 East Mill Creek Drive, Moab, UT 84532
8	0		Moab,UT	Moab,UT		
9	0		Moab,UT	Moab,UT		
10	3	126	Moab,UT	Durango (Mesa Verde)	Morefield Campground	Morefield Campground, Mile Marker 4 U.S. 160, Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330
12	8	541	Durango (Mesa Verde)	Amarillo,TX	Amarillo KOA	Amarillo KOA Campground, 1100 Folsom Road, Amarillo, TX 79108
13	9	466	Amarillo,TX	Austin,TX		
Totals	43	2292
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:44 PM   #10
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Good thinking. I left my motorhome in Durango and took the Civic up to Silverton. A couple of years later I saw 550 to silverton featured on Worlds Most Dangerous Roads.
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Old 07-26-2015, 09:58 PM   #11
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So just to add some info to this. I just took this 550 route, in my 44 ft truck conversion and towing my 52 GMC pickup. I went northbound, from 550 starting in NM (just north of Albuquerque) to end up at Ridgway state park in CO. I made the trip north on 550, but decided to go the 62/145/160 route going south. For two reasons, the first being the road is very narrow and winding. Numerous 15-25 mph hairpin turns I was full lock on the steering and of course the no guardrails. It is pretty white knuckle driving in places where the highway is cut out of the side of the steep mountain side. Second was just to see different part of the country I had never seen before. The 62/145/160 is a pretty drive and is easy for anyone. Lizard Head pass is not bad at all, just a good long uphill steady pull.

The 550 route would be OK in a class C if you were on the shorter length. A class B or a regular car would be no problem. A class A, especially longer ones it is not a relaxing drive, although you can make it. A lot of 550 has 25-35 speed limits, and a lot of turns. Three passes you have to go over, 10,600-11,100 ft elevations. Very pretty scenery, but you need to keep your eyes on the road so it is not good for the driver. Most of the road has very little shoulder, either mountain on one side or steep dropoff the other. Literally about 1 ft of shoulder and you are off the road.

I would not take the 550 route in my big MH again, just takes too much concentration. Go the 62/145/160 route, even if a little longer, the actual time is not much different since speed is so slow on 550.
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Old 07-26-2015, 10:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Fred and Bonnie View Post
You could take 550 to Durango, west on 160 to Cortez, north on 145 to Placerville, to Ridgeway on 62, rejoin 550 to Montrose, Grand Junction and Fruita. We used that route a few years back, very scenic drive, Lizard Head Pass is quite doable.


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This is a very beautiful route. We took it a year ago from Montrose to Durango. The picture is the San Juan Skyway (Highway 145), Keystone Overlook, about a 1/2 mile north of the turnoff to Telluride (looking south toward Telluride). It's also the spot where I took the picture that I use as my avatar.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:36 PM   #13
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In 3 days we will be at Clayton campground for 5 days, then on to Telluride for 2 days, on the Molis lake for 2 nights then Durango for 3 nights. Clayton is 6 miles north of Rico on the Delores river ( lots of fishing about to happen)!!!!

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