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Old 02-01-2008, 05:47 PM   #1
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Anyone have a "best route" through Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado to the Grand Canyon? We are leaving on 23 April from Nappanee, IN and want to pick up US 50 in Kansas (with a 2 week stop in Gunnison, CO which is right on US 50.) I don't think I have enough time or patience to travel US 50 the whole way, but we really don't want to spend all our time on the "cement slab" either. I think we'll have to do I-70 through Missouri

Also, any recommendations for CGs along the way would be nice too.

Thanks for your help!

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Old 02-01-2008, 05:47 PM   #2
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Anyone have a "best route" through Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado to the Grand Canyon? We are leaving on 23 April from Nappanee, IN and want to pick up US 50 in Kansas (with a 2 week stop in Gunnison, CO which is right on US 50.) I don't think I have enough time or patience to travel US 50 the whole way, but we really don't want to spend all our time on the "cement slab" either. I think we'll have to do I-70 through Missouri

Also, any recommendations for CGs along the way would be nice too.

Thanks for your help!

OpaRon
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:28 PM   #3
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We depart from Terre Haute on I70 West to I44 to I40. That's the closest, fastest route for us. I44 has been completely resurfaced and is once-again a pleasure to drive.
Be advised- both MO and OK intensely monitor speed on I44.
Money-wise, it's costs about the same to instead use I57/I55 to I40 and avoid the tolls on I44. The distance is about 70 miles further I think, and a few additional hours driving time. We never plan ahead for overnight CG's, there is plenty of CG signage along the interstates to choose from.
Our last trip that direction the worst CG we stayed at was a KOA.
CG's are sparse along I44.
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Old 02-02-2008, 07:54 AM   #4
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OpaRon,

If you are going to Gunnison, I would say use I-70 thru KC, I-35 & Kansas Tpke, US 54/400. Follow US 400 to US 50. At Montrose head South on US 550 for fantastic scenerey (if you can handle mountain driving) US 550 thru Ouray, Silverton and Durango has its ups and downs but is beautiful.

At Durango, West on US 160 past Mesa Verde and Four Corners Monument to US 89 near Tuba City, AZ. West on AZ 64 at Cameron to Grand Canyon.

Have travelled all routes with MH except US 550. Did that in rental car. Passes on US 550 are no worse than Monarch Pass on US 50.

Four Seasons RV Park at Salida, CO was nice place to stop before heading over Monarch Pass. Salida's a neat little town.

It's beautiful country out there! Enjoy!
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Old 02-02-2008, 08:34 AM   #5
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Frank,

Thanks for the recommendations! I was wondering about both Monarch Pass on US 50 and both the Red Mountain Pass and the Molas Pass on US 550. Do you happen to remember the % grade on any of those three passes? The total elevation doesn't always tell the whole story, especially since you're generally pretty high up when you start those passes. It's the grade that really matters.

I've been over the Rockies only once, in an 8.1 liter gasser and not towing. This time we're in a Dutch Star DP w/ a 370HP Cummins and towing a 4Runner. I don't really anticipate a power problem, but there is always the "fear" problem.

We also wanted to make sure we made it to the 4 Corners monument, having heard about the area all my life. It seems that there is nothing there except maybe a small park. I would have thought there might be "something" there besides just the monument.

Any thoughts on road conditions on US 50/400 in Kansas and Colorado?

Thanks for sharing your experience!

OpaRon
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Old 02-02-2008, 09:13 AM   #6
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Red Mountain Pass isn't all that bad but just north of Silverton, around Molas Lake it's a tough climb. We've done it with our 40' Bus towing a Jeep. It's doable and it's safe, but it's work.

Another excellent route is to head straight out on I-70 until exit # 212 in Utah. The drive on I-70 may be interstate but it's spectacular scenry none the less and the stretch through Glenwood Canyon is unparalleled. Head south past the ghost town of Cisco on Utah 128 towards Moab. 128 runs right alongside the Colorado River through beautiful red rock country. aFter stopping at Moab, continue south to Kayenta, Arizona. By doing so you'll pass through Monument Valley, which is another great site. Then head south to Cameron and enter the Grand Canyon from the east.

4 Corners is basically a spot on the map where you can stick your body on a stone plaza and put one hand and one foot in 4 different state at the same time. It's surrounded by indians selling soiuverniers and jewelry in a bunch of stalls and it costs a few bucks to get in. We did it once just for kicks but that was enough.
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Old 02-02-2008, 11:14 AM   #7
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Cruzer and others,

After reading your posts, I remembered that I have a Trucker's Guide (Mountain Directory West) and is also for RVs and Motor Home Drivers. (Don't know why I didn't remember before my post!) Here's a telling quote regarding US 550 between Montrose and Durango - and there's much more.

"The northbound descent from the summit of Red Mountain Pass toward Ouray is listed by the Colorado Dept of Highways at 7% and more. The descent begins with a 25 MPH speed limit. During the first 3 1/2 miles there are at least 10 hairpin curves with speed limits of 10 & 15 MPH. The speed limit then goes to 40 with curves and then to 55 with curves. The grade eases and you think the hill is over but it's not. After about 2 1/2 miles of lesser grade there is a truck warning sign and the speed limit goes back to 25 MPH. The next 5 1/2 miles are back to about 7% grade with constant 10,15 & 20 MPH hairpin turns. There are two tunnels - one is marked at 13'9" vertical height. There is very little shoulder in places. Some of the hairpins are very tight and there is no room to swing wide because of vertical rock walls or vertical drop offs. The grade and hairpin turns continue all the way into Ouray, 12 1/2 miles down from the summit."

I said something about not being concerned regarding power, but there is the "fear" factor! I can probably do this without too much trouble, but I'm afraid I'll have to medicate my co-pilot for this portion. I don't have a lot of options if I want to go to Gunnison AND go to the Grand Canyon!

Cruzer, would you care to elaborate on your comment in light of the above?
How did the tunnels seem to you? Were they ones you wanted to 1-Lane?

OpaRon
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Old 02-02-2008, 04:20 PM   #8
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OpaRon,

Yes, US 550 sounds intimidating. FWIW - your quoted description is for a northbound trip on 550.

Other options:

1 - Have co-pilot drive toad separately
2 - Take I-70 to Grand Junction and head south on US 50 to Gunnison. Then go back to I-70 and follow Cruzer's route.

Good luck, sounds like a tough decision.
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Old 02-02-2008, 06:30 PM   #9
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Yeah. I noticed that the description was northbound too, but, hey, hairpin turns, tunnels, grades, etc are the same! The more I think about it, the more I feel like wimping out on taking 550. I'm sure it's pretty and all that, but I'm not sure I'd be seeing much (eyes on the road) and I don't think the "sweat factor" is worth it.

I AM going to take US 50 from the east (Kansas and Colorado)to get to Gunnison. That still means one fairly high pass at Monarch Pass (11,312') but nothing like those on 550. After Gunnison I think I'll take Cruzer's route up through Grand Junction and then down eastern Utah to the Grand Canyon. A little further, but a lot less harrowing.

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Old 02-03-2008, 05:54 AM   #10
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The tunnels were very short and I didn't need to one-lane them or anything. They are basically "overpasses" for snow slides so that they don't block the road. They're really not tunnels in the sense that you'd normally think of a tunnel. I never gave them a second thought.

Both Monument Valley and the Million Dollar Highway are both great scenic drives. It's just that the scenery is differnt. Red rock through Moab/Monument Valley and alpine through Ouray/Silverton. The former is much easier to drive though.
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Old 02-03-2008, 12:16 PM   #11
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OpaRon,

More thoughts.

If you take Cruzer's advice and go thru Monument Valley, make reservations to stay right in Monument Valley at Goulding's MV CG & RV Park. It has to be the campground with the most spectacular view ever! It is up a small valley between red sandstone cliffs. Almost all sites have a view looking down the valley out on the classical Monument Valley view. While there, tour the area and see all the familiar scenery from all the old John Wayne movies.

You'll not be disappointed!
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:36 PM   #12
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Thanks for the recommendation and the link. I've saved it in my "recommended CGs" list. We're figuring to take at least a couple of days getting from Gunnison to the Grand Canyon and it's always helpful to have a place recommended!
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Old 02-04-2008, 04:18 AM   #13
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Ron,

The Riverside Oasis CG was a nice place to stay in the Moab, UT area. It is on the Colorado River and really is an oasis-looking campground.

On their web site, check out the link to the Canyon Lands by Night tour. It was a great side trip!
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Old 02-15-2008, 06:01 PM   #14
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OpaRon,
We stayed in Ouray Co about 10 days last Sept.
I can tell you this about highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton. If your headed South toward Silverton it would be very nerve racking for your copilot if they are scared of heights. The road is very curvy and there isn't much of a shoulder on that side and no guard rails for first 7 miles or so out of Ouray. Straight down off the edge which is what the copilot would be looking at. In my opinion there is not much to no margin for error on that side. After that stretch it isn't to bad the rest of the way to Red Mountain Pass and then the descent into Silverton. I 'm not trying to scare you but give you my honest opinion.
The road is spectacular as far as mountain scenery but would I drive it in the motorhome? Probably but I would definitely be nervous about it and my wife would have to probably go set on the couch.
As far as the route we took. We live in Southern IN and the route we took was I-64 to I-70 in St,.Louis then all the way to Limon Co, then 24 to COlorado Springs because we were headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. After we left there we did drive North and picked up 50 just West of Salida and took it all the way to Montrose where we turned South on 550 into Ouray.
I'll look at my photo's and see if I have a picture of the most challenging part of 550 and post it if I have one.
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