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Old 02-10-2014, 07:06 PM   #1
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I-70 through Colorado and Utah

My wife and I are planning a cross-country trip from Florida to California beginning in early May. We will be leaving Pensacola, Florida, and heading to Fayetteville, Ark first, spending a week there to visit my son. After that visit, we will be heading to Interstate 70 in Kansas, and then west with stops in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Then we proceed west to the Grand Canyon. Has anyone here traveled Interstate 70 between Denver, and exit 182 in Utah, at Crescent Junction? As listed in my info, I have a Thor Hurricane 33T, with a 10 cylinder gas engine, towing a 2014 Ford Focus. I lived in Denver for several years while in the Air Force, but I-70 was not built all the way through in 1970, like it is now. I have no idea of the severity of the uphills and downhills driving a motor home. Should I find another route? I know I-40 is not nearly as bad with the mountains, but I really do want to revisit Denver. Thanks for reading.
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:17 PM   #2
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Get one of these: Mountain Driving Guide for Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers All grades and hazards clearly listed

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlabit View Post
My wife and I are planning a cross-country trip from Florida to California beginning in early May. We will be leaving Pensacola, Florida, and heading to Fayetteville, Ark first, spending a week there to visit my son. After that visit, we will be heading to Interstate 70 in Kansas, and then west with stops in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Then we proceed west to the Grand Canyon. Has anyone here traveled Interstate 70 between Denver, and exit 182 in Utah, at Crescent Junction? As listed in my info, I have a Thor Hurricane 33T, with a 10 cylinder gas engine, towing a 2014 Ford Focus. I lived in Denver for several years while in the Air Force, but I-70 was not built all the way through in 1970, like it is now. I have no idea of the severity of the uphills and downhills driving a motor home. Should I find another route? I know I-40 is not nearly as bad with the mountains, but I really do want to revisit Denver. Thanks for reading.
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:27 PM   #3
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I've driven that route in a 32' Brave a while back. There are some long grades but should not be a problem if you watch your speed and use your gears instead of the brakes. One caution, don't be surprised to find snow at higher elevations in early May. Our trip was in early June and exited Eisenhower tunnel into a snow cloud. Stopped in Breckenridge and there were still several ski runs open. The roads, however, were all clear and dry for us. BTW the scenery along that route in Colorado is fantastic.
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:29 PM   #4
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Yepper, did it in 2006. We were in a Winnebago Journey pulling a 2004 Explorer. We had a small CAT diesel in the coach but there were plenty of gas motorhomes on the road too. It is a beautiful road but it does have some long and steep grades. However, as long as you don't need to be the first one to the top of the hill, you should be fine. Use lower gears climbing and descending and enjoy the Rockies.

Obviously, your coach needs to be in good mechanical shape because the running gear will get a good workout.
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:37 PM   #5
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Go to Denver. May is beautiful that time of year and overheating is less a problem thank in July or August. I-70 can be a challenge on the uphill while towing, but take your time and use the right gear, take breaks and enjoy the towns along the way. On the west side of the hills, again use your gears and don't let people push you downhill, they can get in the left lane. Remember to keep hydrated at altitude and Enjoy Colorado! Lived there for 50 years, drove the passes and always loved it.
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Old 02-10-2014, 10:14 PM   #6
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We went thru on I-70 with a Ford V10 31' Class C RV towing a small car 4 years ago. There are 2 passes, one a little over 11,000ft. and one about 10,600ft. I believe all vehicles over 10,000lbs are to have tire chains or cables with them. We crossed on a blue sky day and the road was wet from melting snow but no ice. This was mid May. The Rv did fine but our speed was down to about 10 mph in the top 1000 ft. of the passes as where some heavy semi's. I had a scan gauge to watch transmission temperature. It did very hot (220 F) so I stopped a couple of times to let it cool for 10 minutes each time. The engine never overheated. You really have to use engine braking going down hill, 3rd or even 2nd gear if necessary (3500 rpm) to keep your speed down with only brief use of brakes every 30 seconds or so. It can be done. Cross on a sunny day. Since then I use another route like I-80 to the north, especially if weather is poor in the high I-70 passes. On a trip last May a snow storm closed the I-70 passes so used I-80.
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Old 02-10-2014, 10:21 PM   #7
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Have done it several times, the most recent being in October last year. As mentioned, some long steep grades, but you should be okay. Watch your brakes on the long down hills and keep your speed down -- you'll be fine. Enjoy
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Old 02-10-2014, 10:30 PM   #8
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jlabit - I 70 is not an easy route. There are very long grades up and down and the altitudes are very high. We have a diesel pusher and it went up the grades just fine. Going down was very steep and very long. I do not think this is a fun route to drive in a motorhome. But that is my personal opinion. After the engine brake popped out due to excessive speed about a mile east of the Eisenhower going towards Denver summer before last I made a mental note to myself to avoid this route when possible in the future. In a gas motor without a turbo the power will be way down at the top.

If you are going to the south rim of the Grand Canyon a better route to go is South from Denver to Albuquerque and then west on 40. If you are going to the north rim I 70 likely better. I 40 is a far easier route.
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Old 02-10-2014, 11:59 PM   #9
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The thing you REALLY have to worry about - 180+ miles between the west side of Grand Junction and the first exit in Utah that has a gas station. Nearly as far from Green River to the next gas going west. Pay attention and fill up!

The grades are really no big deal as long as you gear down and don't get behind on the speed.
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:22 AM   #10
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Done it in our older gas rig and now DP , like others have stated , never ever let the rig gather speed on the way down and don't attempt in bad weather
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Schweikle View Post
Get one of these: Mountain Driving Guide for Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers All grades and hazards clearly listed
X2.

Take the route you are comfortable with. We drove this in our gasser our very first trip in our RV. It's not as bad as we thought, but it does require full attention to the drive. Long grades and also lots of traffic. We wouldn't hesitate to take it again though.
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Old 02-11-2014, 04:13 PM   #12
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Drove from Kansas to central Utah last summer and found the drive very pleasent. A lot of headwind in Kansas and the road through Denver was bumpy, but not as bad and I5 going through LA. The climb wasn't as bad as going down. Take your time and downshift and you will be fine. Very beautiful drive and we stopped a few times.
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Old 02-11-2014, 05:26 PM   #13
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Just did that route again this year for the 3rd time. First time in a 1992 460hp X 34' Georgy Boy towing a Suzuki and just this past summer in a 38' Georgetown towing a Jeep Wrangler. It is a great trip, beautiful and slow. Slow because of the overall elevation and the steep incline and declines. We actually reached speeds of 30 mph on some of the inclines, but remember - you cannot walk that fast - look at the mountains. The trip up to the Eisenhower tunnel is the worst so you will get that out of the way first. Gas up when you have a chance, some places are a long way apart. You might want to stop in Moab and see the parks there. There are not many RV parks so make sure to give a call to make sure you find a night home. Remember to use your gears - same gear on the way down as used on the way up - it will make your brakes happier.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:07 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the responses. This is one heck of a helpful forum. I lived in Denver for approximately two years. During that time, I was absolutely terrified when my in-laws drove me to the peak of Mount Evans, on a 2-lane highway across Loveland Pass. I am starting to have serious reservations about using I-70, although my son tells me that drive should be a bucket list item. Guess I could use I-40 to go to the Grand Canyon, and on to Las Vegas and California. Our northern most Calif city will be San Francisco. I saw a comment about I-80. Any comments about a eastern bound return on I-80, probably in July? What I saw in research is that the highest point on I-80 is about 8,000 feet. Guess we could jump on I-25 South and head back to Denver on a side trip, while on the way back home. I am from Florida. Please believe me when I tell you that you do not want me driving on your snow covered highways with an 18,000 pound vehicle. We are still finalizing things we want to see while out west. Looks like I-80 would make Yellowstone Park accessible too. This will be a trip that will last most of the summer. Just want to be back in Florida before it gets cold.
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