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Old 08-18-2016, 01:32 PM   #1
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Help on Traveling Through the Rockies

We have a trip coming up shortly to visit one of my sons in California (near Edwards AFB). We have been out there on the southern route (I-40) but we never have been out going on I-70. We have a 2006 Meridian with a 300 hp Cummins and will be towing (on a dolly with surge brakes) a Chevy Equinox. My son says not to go that way since we don't have a blower. We're not in a big hurry and plan on stopping and doing some sight seeing using the Equinox. Does anyone have any recommendations/thoughts about the coach having any problems?
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:01 PM   #2
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By the phrase, "we don't have a blower" does that mean your 300 hp diesel doesn't have a turbocharger? Going on I-70 from Denver west has a couple of very high altitude passes. A diesel without a turbo will really lose power in altitude.

Once you get to Utah, I-70 ends at I-15. I-15 S would take you to Edwards AFB.

That route has many places for great side trips in Colorado and Utah, but I'm a bit concerned about the "no blower" comment.
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:46 PM   #3
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It appears you might be coming from Ohio. You could take I-70 west and before you get to Denver get off at Limon, Colorado, Exit 361 and pick up 24 into Colorado Springs. Tour the Air Force Academy and Garden of the Gods, take the tram up Pike's Peak. (If you continue on I-70 west of Denver you will have some extremely high elevations - up to 11,000'. The highway will have 7% grades and if you have any concerns I wouldn't go that way.)

I'll route you via no serious mountains to climb.

From Colorado Springs, head south on I-25 toward New Mexico. You have a few options but one I would recommend would be to take 160 west at Walsenburg, CO and check out Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park. There a lovely campground with no hookups or in nearby Alamosa there's a RV park.

If you are 62+ I hope you have your national Senior Pass for national parks - free entry and 1/2 off campsites.

At Alamosa take 285 south to Antonito and then 17 west into Chama. . campgrounds and RV parks along the way and in Chama. Possibly the Chama train ride although in Fall - end of Sept. with the colors is a better time.

From Chama take 64/84 north into Pagosa Springs, CO with awesome hot springs to soak overlooking the river. We spend all morning there. There are many concrete, extremely clean small pools of varying temperatures - you just bounce from one to another, immaculate changing rooms with showers. Take a cooler with snacks and you'll need a restful time by now!

From Pagosa head west on 160 and spend some time in Durango, CO. Here you can take a train ride up to Silverton an old mining town which is a fun, unique place in an absolutely awesome setting of mountains. If you do this, take the train up and the option bus for your return. From Durango you could easily drive your car up to Silverton, also, but you wouldn't want to take your RV up there.

West on 160 from Durango at Cortez is Mesa Verde Nat'l Park with a campground and some electric sites. There are other RV parks along 160. Take a ranger tour for the best experience. Some other good things to do around Cortez including Anasazi Heritage Center for excellent learning of the early pueblos, etc.

Now more choices for you: Take 160 south and tour Monument Valley, then get to 89 south into Flagstaff and I-40 which you've taken previously.

Or...from Cortez, take 491 to Monticello, Utah, then 191 north to Arches Nat'l Park & Canyonlands Nat'l Park at Moab - lots of RV parks here. You will now be at I-70 and past all the high mountain crossings. There are other fabulous national parks in this area - Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion. After you get your route settled if you want to take in the other national parks come back and ask directions to better avoid steep climbs. Continue west on I-70 to I-15 to Barstow then 58 west to Mojave and south on 14 to Lancaster.

This could work out to a good extended trip depending on what places you want to stop so you might want to head out tomorrow! Have a good one.
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:47 PM   #4
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We did that route years ago with our 320 HP V-10 Adventurer. At the top we were in first gear at about 20 mph. The potato chip bags in the cabinets popped! We made it over the top. You will do better than we did, except your snack bags may pop too.
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:23 PM   #5
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You have gotten good comments on I-70 through Colorado

I-80 through Wyoming is much easier but greatly less scenic route to cross the Rockies. The highest point is just East of Laramie at about 8900 feet ... heading West there are no serious climbs ... there are a couple of 6 degree downgrades ... just east of Laramie, WY and near Park City, UT
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Old 08-18-2016, 09:43 PM   #6
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I've done I-70 and I-80 a number of times, in both directions in a 210 hp Cummins with turbo towing a VW Beetle. No real problems on either highway. Still waiting to hear what 'no blower' means.
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Old 08-19-2016, 06:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golf612 View Post
We have a trip coming up shortly to visit one of my sons in California (near Edwards AFB). We have been out there on the southern route (I-40) but we never have been out going on I-70. We have a 2006 Meridian with a 300 hp Cummins and will be towing (on a dolly with surge brakes) a Chevy Equinox. My son says not to go that way since we don't have a blower. We're not in a big hurry and plan on stopping and doing some sight seeing using the Equinox. Does anyone have any recommendations/thoughts about the coach having any problems?
Hold on, you are not in a hurry, so why miss any of the (IMHO) best state to enjoy the Rockies? Sure you will slow down a little - but then you will be able to see more as you drive up those Beautiful Mountains.

twogypsies has given you a great option, BUT it takes you out of Colorado, which I would disagree - Look at using the southern route to return, later in the season, and continuing on in the Beautiful State of Colorado.

Possible options;(LONG)

Might give you too much but will also give you some things to put into the plan.

Colorado, and the many options for a trip.


Let me start off by saying that IMHO Colorado offers as much Adventure and Beauty as any part of the country – add to that that is very close to the center of the US – Close to Yellowstone and Utah - and it’s exceptional weather make it a great destination vacation.


In my first dozen plus trips to Colorado I usually traveled to RMNP and Colorado Springs. Having spent most of my life either on the left coast or the right coast I actually only did the touristy drive through when going from one coast to the other. I never really was able to spend much time just being immersed in the culture or the people and land of the state. Having seen the Coors commercials I was under the impression that Golden was a town located deep in the Rockies – not just 15 minutes from downtown Denver, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this. In the 90’s my son was invited to Vail for a July 4th sports tournament, so we visited every summer while he was in College, arriving in Vail from, Colorado Springs – Albuquerque – and Salt Lake – Denver – Giving me an opportunity to learn a little about the state and the many drives/areas it offers, this started to Open my eyes, exposing me to the many attractions and so much more about the state. Then when my son moved there in 2002 and I discovered that I had only scratched the surface and would spend the next 5 years learning more about the state.


With my truth in a very limited -knowledge, on the state of Colorado I will move forward with my personal suggestions for a week (Or month) or two in Colorado – a sort of 7-17 days to see the state. You need to Understand that I believe this is one of the last great Wild Places in the US, and is IMHO a National Park, once you hit the Foothills. You need to set aside twice the time you think if you really want to, enjoy, see, touch, Love this state the way it deserves. If you take the time, you will return again and again – Discovering that it has just so many surprises – all of which just continue to amaze me.

So let’s start at the obvious spot, Denver/ Golden – you could start with a tour of the Coors brewery catch dinner in the town and then have a great walk along Clear Creek, you will need a little planning to get a site in the CG (Clear Creek CG)as it has now been Discovered and is normally FULL. (an option is JeffCoFairgrounds). Because I have 4 Granddaughters in Colorado and this is the closest CG I am slightly biased as to how great it is. It is within walking distance of – restaurants/Main Street – Community Center – Library – Coors – Downtown Golden.

Peak to Peak drive is the next thing I would insist that you experience – for me I would base camp in Golden and make this drive a couple of times, or make the loop across Trail Ridge and Berthoud Pass – not a drive for the faint of heart (In the RV)as both offer switch backs and areas free from guard rails on some very impressive grades to get over and down from these Passes.(the reason for the base camp is to allow a couple of good drives. (Peak to Peak and Trail Ridge) Along with these drives are an unlimited number of areas to take great hikes – just do a quick search and you will not be disappointed, almost every jurisdiction will have dedicated Open Space areas with great trails /hikes.


Most people will start in Rocky Mountain NP – I am sure most are aware of the Pine Beetle Kill – it has decimated the beautiful green forest of RMNP – making it a very different trip from what it was just 5-6 years ago. Still it is RMNP and it does have some very impressive natural features and hikes to offer. IMHO Estes is (the east side of the park – where most visit) just not that attractive in the tourist season. (a personal Bias as I tend to go where and when the crowds are not) The Camp Grounds leave much to be desired and the town is much too crowded for my personal taste. With that said I love to visit and spend time on the other side of the park – WEST- at Grand Lake a smaller town with still a sort of quaint feel about it, much more family oriented and not nearly as crowded. The drive from one side of the park to the other over Trail Ridge is not to be missed – the many hiking areas away from the crowds are many and varied – from Longs Peaks- 14,000’+ to many of the hikes to lesser known peaks and lakes, more than enough to spend the entire trip on and only scratch the surface. ( if you were to drive over Trail Ridge you could make aa quick run to The Steamboat area –Lakes –Town - State Parks – just lots to see and do in this area then just head down to Dillon and pick up there)


Leaving Golden I would head out Rt 6, driving along Clear Creek to Idaho Springs and the entrance onto I-70 going through the tunnel (actually a number of tunnels – 6?) and getting off on at Rt 91 and heading to Leadville, Highest incorporated Town in the US 10,000’and home of Quincy's Steak House for a Leadville dinner. Turquoise Lake, 4X4 trails, historic town, and base for a day trip over Independence Pass and a dash to Maroon Bells in Aspen. This trip is good anytime the pass is open but is truly spectacular in the last week of September when the Aspen turn GOLD. (this is taken in the Toad or TV as it is a restricted length road)


From Leadville down to Buena Vista – home of the Arkansas River Rafting adventures – great in the early summer with the snow melt. If you have missed the rafting at its peak, not to worry, as the trails and drives in the Collegiate Peaks are again very special, you can get all the way over to Crested Butte – a very neat little ski town – by 4X4 or gravel road. (Home of Bud Light commercials and Crystal Mill)


Just a note here – the beetle kill is starting to leave its mark in this part of the state – so my advice is to see it NOW, before it changes forever.

If you are into crossing National Parks off a list then the next destination would be Great Sand Dunes NP, this could be a Toad drive or a stop but unless you just love sand in your shoes you see most of it pretty quickly.


Now for some difficult decisions – Gunnison area – Lake City – Ouray – Silverton – Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP – Gunnison Lake – Fly Fishing Hikes and 4X4 trails that are hard to believe if you have the time all of the afore mentioned areas are special. Gunnison is the center geographically, and will allow you to resupply, Lake City – wild – beautiful – isolated – 4x4 trails – Ouray – must see – the Alps in Colorado – hot Springs – Hikes Drives – Silverton – the middle of the San Juan’s – many of the 4x4 trails will bring you here – just a great area – Black Canyon – Surprising! – must see – on and on as you travel in this area. Notice I have left out mesa Verde and Durango, so you certainly should/could include these, as both are interesting, just – for me again Durango is to Large/crowded – mesa Verde is IMHO more of a to be included in Utah, and can be seen in a later time of year when the rest of Colorado is immersed in Winter.


Lake City – Just a special little town that still has a western charm that is hard to match – 4X4 trails to die for – hikes – lakes – 14ers – fish – Creede and on and on – it is just located in something close to an unspoiled paradise. JMHO.


Ouray or Ridgeview SP – would be the logical base camp choice – central location – hot springs – CG – Near Silverton – more trails – Telluride just over the mountain – Hikes -- 4X4 trails just a great location and neat little town/area
.

Silverton – in the middle of it all – if you are really into the back country this might just be for you – they have CG’s in town but you can easily Boondock in the NF – train – 4X4 trails – quaint – beautiful – but isolated.


Now if the weather is really cool you can always bounce over to Utah and warm up if it’s great and if you need more Colorado head up to Delta and Rt 133, catch Marble and Redstone before getting back on I-70 two interesting areas with neat little histories. If you did not get over to Maroon Bells catch it now – this is a great treat that I will never visit too often.


Now if you are headed west just follow the route into Moab – if you are headed back to Denver just take I-70 back – the over and under highway along the Colorado River just East of Glenwood Springs is considered one of the most beautiful parts on the Interstate Highway system and it will head through Vail and right back into Denver – If you can remember to get off at the exit (exit 243) just east of Idaho Springs you can take Rt 6 back to Rt 58 into the City.


The other Option, if you are headed South is to head down to Mesa Verde NP/Cortez by using Rt 145 or through Silverton Rt 550 to Durango and over (Note that 550 is a road that some love and other just think everyone should stay off -- I’ll drive it every time I have a chance but google it to see pictures)

The other popular option is to head to Utah – either from Grand Junction (Colorado Monument) or 141 or 90 over to Rt 191 – if you take I-70 try to remember to get off at exit 214 then follow Rt 128 into Moab –just a Special Drive.

Well that’ my welcome to Colorado Loop – just to drive it and only “see” most of it would take the week and just not be fair but if you really push, it can get you into the state so you return Often to Hike – Bike – Drive, many of the wild and Beautiful areas that are offered. Or you can take your time spending weeks in every location and still return to discover more adventures.

Hope this helps to get your interest up for Colorado.


Not a fan of the Springs - just too much really good to see.

With your time line and location head north catching some of these;

Silverton
Ouray
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Marble
Maroon Bells
Rifle
Dinosaur NM
Flaming Gorge
Jackson

Colorado is just GREAT - so just SEE IT!,
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Old 08-19-2016, 08:05 AM   #8
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Busskipper, great and comprehensive write up, if you don't already, you should work for the CVB!

I do disagree some what with the Colorado Springs comment, Garden of the Gods however is worth it, and a tour of the Air Force Academy is a must do if you are in the area. I do agree the Springs are crowded, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I may be biased, I was on staff at the Academy in the 70's, next visit was in 2014, man has that town changed in 40 years!
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Old 08-19-2016, 09:38 AM   #9
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Busskipper, great suggestions! I also think that while twogypsies's route bypasses the mountains, it also bypasses some of the great things most folks come to Colorado to see.

A stock 300 HP diesel doesn't need to avoid mountain passes, just be aware you'll not be racing anyone up the hills. Pay attention to coolant temperature, downshift when they raise to keep RPMs up in best torque range. Going down, use engine brake, not regular brakes, save them for emergencies, not slowing. You'll be fine. I-70 as it parallels the Colorado River is some of the most scenic section of road in the U.S. To avoid travel through the heart of the Rockies by skirting south of all that beauty, well, I don't think the Great Sand Dunes NP is a good substitute for the mountains, unless you're into 4 wheeling, dune buggies, ATV, or eating sand.
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Old 08-19-2016, 03:52 PM   #10
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I really appreciate everyone's input. After I posted it I knew I was going to confuse everyone by using the term "blower". When I was growing up my uncle had a truck repair shop and I hung around some. The shortened turbocharger to blower and that's what I picked up.
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Old 08-19-2016, 04:05 PM   #11
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I'm familiar with the term, just not heard of many diesels not equipped with one because of the advantages to having one on the engine. Was your RV never equipped or just broke it and removed it? A naturally aspirated diesel will suffer in altitude.

I had an early VW diesel with no turbo and it had great difficulty climbing out of Denver on I-70 towards Idaho Springs and beyond.
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Old 08-19-2016, 05:28 PM   #12
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I don't know for sure, it's a new coach to me. I had a 32 ft Jayco with a V-10 Class C for a couple of years. I'm new to RVing, never even stepped into one before I bought the Jayco. Just decided that we were tired of Ohio winters and couldn't find apartments or condos in Florida that would accept pets at a reasonable cost. Only got rid of the Jayco because it was uncomfortable for three months at a time, plus the better half and I wanted to do some traveling/sightseeing now that we have retired.
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Old 08-19-2016, 07:23 PM   #13
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In automotive parlance, a blower usually means a supercharger. No, you do not have a supercharger on your Cummins ISB 300hp engine but you do have a turbocharger which essentially does the same function. The boost information you see on your gauges is the amount of boost or intake air pressure the turbocharger is generating.
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Old 08-20-2016, 06:52 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=Golf612;3214528]We have a trip coming up shortly to visit one of my sons in California (near Edwards AFB). We have been out there on the southern route (I-40) but we never have been out going on I-70. We have a 2006 Meridian with a 300 hp Cummins and will be towing (on a dolly with surge brakes) a Chevy Equinox. My son says not to go that way since we don't have a blower. We're not in a big hurry and plan on stopping and doing some sight seeing using the Equinox. Does anyone have any recommendations/thoughts about the coach having any problems?[/QUOTE

This might help;

http://winnebagoind.com/resources/ma...MeridianSE.pdf

https://cumminsengines.com/uploads/docs/4971102.pdf

While the 5.9 has a little less torque it does have a turbo and while it will not race over the hills it will go over them and it will likely get good milage the rest of the time.

Drive where you want IMHO you have a good Coach.

JMHO,

Busskipper
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