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Old 05-07-2011, 10:49 AM   #1
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Grand Junction to Durango

Hi all,
I'm a little reticent about Highway 550 from Grand Junction, CO to Durango, CO. I understand that it can be a bit of a white knuckler. Have any of you driven it with a Class A and a Toad ? We'll be driving a 37' TropiCal towing a Saturn Aura. What alternative route between those two towns would you suggest. I really don't want to go back to Denver and start over.

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Old 05-07-2011, 12:29 PM   #2
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I did it with my old Class C and a toad and it is truly a 'white knuckler'. Cliff on one side and a steep drop on the other side.

But it is a rite of passage for RVers just like driving Tioga Road or the Hogback.

Just take it slow and pull over when you can to let everyone by. Other than going to Denver, your only other option is going to Moab and taking 191 to 491 to 160.

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Old 05-07-2011, 12:37 PM   #3
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I vaction out there every year in my Jeep. This year i will be driveing my conversion towing the Jeep. (maybe on a trailer)
Yes it is a road to respect. pay attention to the road to look around like anyone would want to do, pull over and look. take your time and you should be fine.

And the whole stretch isn't all that bad. its just from Ouray past silverton and 1/2 to durango that is dangerous. Note I didn't say unsafe.

This rememined me about a saying at my work.
Just because something is dangerous doesn't mean it has to be unsafe.
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Old 05-07-2011, 01:13 PM   #4
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You can also go via 62/145/184/160 and come in to Durango from the west. You could stop in Telluride or Mesa Verde. If you have lots of time take 141 just south of GJ and drive along the Red Rock canyons of the Dolores River. Take it slow and enjoy!
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Old 05-07-2011, 01:34 PM   #5
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Very scenic drive, but you have to give the road 100% of your attention in spots. I rather enjoyed it, but wife wouldn't look. I can attach a couple pictures if you like.
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Old 05-07-2011, 02:37 PM   #6
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I second what Coma recommended. It is just as pretty, just not nearly as dangerous. Once you get to Durango, take your Saturn and drive back over 550 to Ouray and enjoy the trip both ways. While large RVs and semis take that route every day, they are either experienced mountain drivers or are unfamiliar with what they face. Don't make that mistake. No need to go back to Denver, I don't know how anyone would get that idea.
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Old 05-07-2011, 02:54 PM   #7
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Drive it yourself. Your arms will definitely get lots of exercise, but you will be OK. Watch for all the other RVers, 18 wheelers, and busses.
Video 1
Video 2
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Old 05-07-2011, 07:49 PM   #8
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just came over it 2 days ago 40 footer pulling a toad. there is one construction spot just out of ouray. road narrow at times but very doable .just pay attention and keep your speed down on descents and you will be fine
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Old 05-08-2011, 07:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by two2go View Post
Drive it yourself. Your arms will definitely get lots of exercise, but you will be OK. Watch for all the other RVers, 18 wheelers, and busses.
I enjoyed watching your videos, but having been on the road many times, myself, in a jeep as a passenger from Durango to Montrose and driving myself in a truck (Durango to Silverton), in all honesty and fairness to the original poster, I don't think it gives the perspective of what the drive is really like. It may be my computer, but the drop offs weren't really well defined, and I wouldn't want the OP to think you can drive it that fast (I assume the film was sped up).

If someone is really afraid of height, I would recommend another route. The problem with 550 is once you're on it, there's no getting off. I know--I met a man on his first trip with a new motorhome in Durango and he was ready to sell it when he got to the camp ground. I thought he was going to have a heart attack and asked him if he was okay--he had no idea what he was in for and his wife was hysterical. He had driven down from Montrose.

This isn't meant to scare anyone, but it's advice from someone who was about to pass out as a passenger. It didn't bother my husband, but I wouldn't want to be on the road with other vehicles whose drivers were not very experienced mountain drivers. JMO
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Old 05-08-2011, 09:49 PM   #10
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been their done that !!! never ever again even if i have to go to Dallas to get around it
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:03 PM   #11
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Nit that we have any plans to travel that road, I'm glad I watched the video so I now know to avoid it. The scenery us amazing, but my goodness , what if you had a tire failure & it pulled you to that side. Or maybe an oncoming truck had a tire failure @ came into your lane . There's nowhere to go but down.
I wonder how many have dropped off that road
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:07 PM   #12
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I drove the Million Dollar Highway years ago in a new 36ft Holiday Rambler 454 towing a light toad. Never again, not for a million dollars. White knuckle driving, tight turns, steep drop-offs, traffic that just wants to get home and you are holding them up. Not that anyone is discourteous, just I was driving 20mph and sweating, and they really just wanted to get home. There a few places to pull out that will accommodate the rig. I understand the scenery is beautiful, but I never got to see anything, as I was transfixed on the road. My memory of the trip is not as strong as my nightmares from the drive.
I have made the drive since then, a few times, always in the car. It really is a lovely drive, the scenery is fantastic, Ourway is very nice, Silverton is a great day trip, and we truly enjoy Durango and Mesa Verde.
Just find another route.
Happy Trails.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:30 PM   #13
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I driven that route several times. The first time was in a new (to me) 40' DP towing a Jeep on a trailer. I had the motorhome 4 days before driving that road. I was really apprehensive. Since then I have become much more familiar with centering in my lane and "adjusting" for tracking of my towed or trailer. If you feel confident with centering in your travel lane then you'll not have any problems. If you have problems staying centered in your lane with the motorhome and the towed then you may want to consider another route. If you take 550 just pay attention to driving and not the scenery.
A good but much longer route is GJ to Moab via I-70 & 191 to Monticello then 461 to 160 and then into Durango.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:52 PM   #14
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I took this route a couple years ago and would recommend it for bypassing the passes through the San Juans between Ouray and Durango. From Grand Junction take Hwy 50 to Hwy 141. Follow 141 to Vancorum, then Hwy90 west into Utah to Hwy 191 then south to Montecello. Take Hwy491 east to Cortez and over to Durango on 160. You will see some beautiful country on Hwy 141 although it is twisty. No passes to cross so you can relax those knuckles. It's more miles but hey, who's in a hurry?

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