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Old 03-23-2009, 10:06 PM   #1
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Denver to Utah via I-70

Thinking about driving my Newmar gasser with GMC 8.1 from Denver to Utah via I-70 over the Rockies. For the ones of you who have done this in a gasser, give me the low down on what to expect. How hard is it on the rig? Is it worth doing in a gasser?
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:14 PM   #2
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No easy answer . . .

You are in for some major pulls . . . the one outside of Golden heading to Idaho Springs is bad enough, but it gets worse on down the road. You will be in low gear and going slow but it's doable. It's done every day!! I can't remember specifically what the grades are, but 18-wheelers creep up them . . . and down them.
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:21 PM   #3
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We've been that route several times traveling back & forth from Las Vegas to St. Joseph, MO in our 2000 38' v10 gasser towing a 3,600 lb vehicle. Depending on the grade % sometimes we're down to 40 mph, but we always make it over the top. You should have no problems with your more powerful 8.1L engine and Allison transmission.

Best of luck and safe travels.
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:31 AM   #4
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Four big grades

The Mountain Directory West shows four big climbs and descents on I-70 between Denver and Utah.

The steepest grades are in the 6% to 7% range. I travelled that route twice in a gasser ('99 Adventurere) with a Ford V-10 ... I found the hardest part was the descent ..

Old truckers rule :
keep your speed going down the hill BELOW your speed on the way up ....
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Old 03-24-2009, 05:06 AM   #5
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You'll encounter three major pulls. The first is just west of Denver. The second is Loveland Pass through the Eisenhower tunnel. Going down the other side will give you a thrill, but just take it slow and stay off the brakes as much as possible. The third is Vail Pass. It's a long one but actually isn't as steep as Loveland Pass. It's a bit more relaxing and the scenery is great. Just take your time. In a worse case if your rig starts to get to hot going up, or your having to brake too much going down, unhook the tow vehicle and drive it up and over.
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Old 03-24-2009, 12:41 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for you input. I am inclined to take this route. I do take it easy and do not get in a hurry. My wife just can't watch while on the down hill side.

Are there places to pull off on the up hill side to let the motor and trans cool down?
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:40 PM   #7
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I-70

If you've never been that way before, here are some places you need to check out, as well as some places to rest. Just west of Denver, Golden is an awesome little city full of history, great shops and restaurants. It's got an old west feeling to it even though it's relatively modern. The Coors Brewery is there, and Clear Creek runs through the town making the walking trail in the middle of town a wonderful place to take a stroll. There's a really nice little RV park in Golden - right on the banks of Clear Creek that's run by the City of Goldn. Red Rocks Amphitheater is right after Golden - also a must-see.

After you're through the first big pull, at Exit 254, on a clear day, you get one of the best views of the rockies anywhere. It will take your breath away and it's too beautiful to just drive through. You come over a hill and boom - there they are. That exit is also where you would get off to see Buffalo Bill's grave - a touristy place but lots of great views from there.

Evergreen is a great city too - lots of neat shops and restaurants, a great park wtih fishing and boats. That's off of exit 252.

After this exit, the road goes down hill and gets curvy, goes through a canyon. Go slow! There's a tunnel at MM 242.

Idaho Springs is a MUST SEE . . . . it looks kinda trashy from the interstate but it's really neat. There are buildings from the 1800's downtown, a gold mine, etc. And you can go to Blackhawk to the Casinos from there - free RV parking. That's exit 241. Look for the waterfall to your left as you're driving past the city if you don't stop. If it's still frozen, it's painted all kinds of colors - really pretty.

Georgetown is another lovely historic city and it has a train that goes through historic areas. Exit 228 There's a scenic overlook at 226.5.

After Georgetown you're going to pull uphill to the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11, 013 feet at MM 214

There's a parking area at MM213 for cool down.

At MM 203.5 there's a scenic overlook.

After this, you're going to be up and down, mostly up - and will be passing through ski towns - all of which are well worth the stop. There's a rest stop at Exit 190. Dillon, Silverthorn, Breckenridge, Frisco, then you'll be going up to Vail Pass Summit - elevation 10,662. There's a parking area on both lanes for you to take a break. that's at MM 189. Vail is also AWESOME.

At exit 162 there's a scenic overlook.

Exit 157 goes to Steamboat - another must see if you have time. Beautiful lake, Strawberry Hot Springs, Fish Creek Falls . . . .

There's a parking area at MM 128.5 and then another tunnel at MM 125.

There's a rest area at Exit 119 and 115

Exit 116 is the exit to Aspen or Glenwood Springs - Aspen is THE ski town and is absolutely gorgeous. Glenwood Springs has a huge public hot springs and pool.

After that it's pretty much down hill.

Wish I could give you specific mile markers for the pulls, but I can't remember that well and it's not in any of my books!!

Have fun!!
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Old 03-25-2009, 06:16 PM   #8
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GraciesMon, Thank you so much for all that information. I will print it out and keep it while we travel through Colorado. It will be very helpful.
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:29 PM   #9
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All my MH does is go back and forth across the Rockies. You'll get down to first gear and 35 MPH or so before you crest the summitt. Vail Pass is tougher eastbound.
I always manually gear way down descending the Mtns. If it's 6 or 7%, I use 2nd gear (45,55 MPH) with my GM transmission. Snowy or icy, maybe even 1st gear (30,35 MPH).
I always try ,to not have to use my brakes, or at least, very little braking.
Going westbound, after Vail Pass, you're on cruise control , almost to UT. Seems like a slight downhill for a couple hundred miles. You'll get great mileage here and more than make for all the gas you burned going up, well unless you are unlucky and are going into a head wind.
Enjoy the trip and I hope you're not going tomorrow, in the snow storm.
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Old 03-25-2009, 08:05 PM   #10
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Some years ago at the Winnebago Grand National Rally we attended a BlueOx seminar. The presenter got to talking about grades - going up and down. He said, as a seminar presenter for BlueOx, he had been back and forth and up and down across this country many times. In regards to I-70 in Colorado, he says that is the only route he ever drove where he prefers to unhook the toad and have the copilot drive it over the mountains.

That is just what we did in 2005. It was pretty much a "non event."

Yes, if you unhook you still must downshift to control your speed so you can stay off the brakes as much as possible. I don't recall how long it took - maybe an hour - but it can be a big help.
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Old 03-25-2009, 08:07 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info Max. Not going tomorrow, but around the middle of May.
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Old 03-26-2009, 02:58 PM   #12
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Colorado in May . . . .

I have skiied in Colorado in the middle of May!!! LOL!! Hope the weather is ok for your trip . . . especially at 11k feet!!
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Old 03-27-2009, 05:57 AM   #13
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Yes, there are pullouts every so often on these passes. A couple of them are actually exits but you can still use them to pull off then back on again.
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