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Old 05-30-2013, 08:43 PM   #1
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Taking our new 2014 ACE to Santa Fe from Illinois. My DW says some mountain driving.

I have never done any mountain driving. Any suggestions? Any problem areas between Taous and Santa Fe we should be aware of? Our unit is the 27.1 if it matters. Thanks.
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Old 05-30-2013, 09:25 PM   #2
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Santa Fe, is just over 2200 ft. elevation. There are no mountains between Illinois and Santa Fe. Google Maps suggest going through Oklahoma City and Amarillo. Even if you were to go I-70 through Kansas, all your driving would be on the east side of the Front Range of the Rockies.

Mountain driving just means you pay attention to keeping control of your vehicle a bit more than on flat land. Going up a mountain, pay attention to RPMs, don't let the engine work too hard at low RPM, it will overheat. Downshifting to keep RPMs up circulates coolant faster and keeps things cooler. Going down a grade, never let speed build too high. Downshift and use engine braking. When you apply the brakes, do it firmly and briefly to slow you down and get back in control with engine braking. Don't ride the brake pedal or apply brakes for long periods of time, they'll get too hot. If you feel like you've braked too much and heated them up, find a place to pull over and take pictures to let things cool down again.
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Old 05-30-2013, 09:32 PM   #3
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Just remember that what gear you go up in come down in. Don't ride your brakes, let the tranny control your speed, and when needed use your brakes to slow you down by 10 or so mph and your will be just fine. When in doubt go slow and easy. Never hurts to pull over and relax. It's not a race.
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Old 05-30-2013, 09:34 PM   #4
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Thanks, good to know. Just seeing if there are any warning I should know about. The DW just tells me which way to go. I obey.
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Old 05-30-2013, 10:57 PM   #5
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there is an "easy" pass at the Colorado/New Mexico border on I-25 ... just north of Raton, NM
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Old 05-31-2013, 08:17 AM   #6
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You don't have to be afraid of mountain driving. I'm a flatlander from Illinois too, but I have driven some of the toughest mountain passes, such as 14A in Wyoming (see photo below). Take is slow and careful. If you have tow/haul, use it. If you have an exhaust brake, use it. Everybody else drives there, so there is no reason that you can't too.

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Old 05-31-2013, 08:35 AM   #7
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You don't have to be afraid of mountain driving. I'm a flatlander from Illinois too, but I have driven some of the toughest mountain passes, such as 14A in Wyoming (see photo below). Take is slow and careful. If you have tow/haul, use it. If you have an exhaust brake, use it. Everybody else drives there, so there is no reason that you can't too.

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We've driven 14A, in our toad. Very scenic, but probably best avoided by a newbie with rig and toad.
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Old 05-31-2013, 08:43 AM   #8
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Santa Fe, is just over 2200 ft. elevation. There are no mountains between Illinois and Santa Fe. Google Maps suggest going through Oklahoma City and Amarillo. Even if you were to go I-70 through Kansas, all your driving would be on the east side of the Front Range of the Rockies.

Mountain driving just means you pay attention to keeping control of your vehicle a bit more than on flat land. Going up a mountain, pay attention to RPMs, don't let the engine work too hard at low RPM, it will overheat. Downshifting to keep RPMs up circulates coolant faster and keeps things cooler. Going down a grade, never let speed build too high. Downshift and use engine braking. When you apply the brakes, do it firmly and briefly to slow you down and get back in control with engine braking. Don't ride the brake pedal or apply brakes for long periods of time, they'll get too hot. If you feel like you've braked too much and heated them up, find a place to pull over and take pictures to let things cool down again.

Correction - The elevation of Santa Fe, NM is approximately 7,000 feet as is the elevation of Taos, NM. The road between the two cities has two lanes at least part of the way (at least the last time I was there). You will cross the Rockies at some point as Santa Fe is on the west side of the mountains. If you come up from Albuquerque going through the mountains east of ABQ has a slight grade but you will not have any problem. Likewise the grade from ABQ to Santa Fe is slight except for going up La Bajada Hill. The summit of La Bajada Hill Route 66 News Route 66 News There is a truck lane there that you would most likely use.

Don't even think about driving your MH in the downtown area of Santa Fe. The roads are very narrow.

Going to/from Santa Fe and Taos, stop and eat lunch or dinner at Rancho de Chimayo. Rancho de Chimayo Restaurante and Hacienda GREAT New Mexican food.
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Old 05-31-2013, 08:54 AM   #9
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Don't even think about driving your MH in the downtown area of Santa Fe. The roads are very narrow.
I'd like to clarify a bit - you can drive THROUGH Santa Fe on Highway 84 (called St Francis Drive in the city) without a problem - it's a 4-lane road. There are some narrow roads in Old Town Santa Fe that are a tight squeeze for a car, much less a motor home - but that's in Old Town. Otherwise, there are large 4-lane roads in the city that will take you through it. We drive through Santa Fe frequently.

From Santa Fe to Taos is an easy drive, with minimal altitude change. Enjoy the trip!
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:07 PM   #10
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Thanks all. Really appreciate the advice!
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:15 PM   #11
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That sounds like a great run. We are in far southern Illinois and want to go same way this winter winding up in Carefree Arzonia. If you think of it lets us know your route, parks, and how it went. Have a great trip. Mike
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:13 PM   #12
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That sounds like a great run. We are in far southern Illinois and want to go same way this winter winding up in Carefree Arzonia. If you think of it lets us know your route, parks, and how it went. Have a great trip. Mike
Mike will try to remember. On our last day. My wife was awesome finding things. This was a rough time to go with lots of windy travel and storms many of the nights. But route was interesting. Not sure if Irv2 has a pm but we can connect if needed.
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Old 07-05-2013, 04:59 PM   #13
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We live in Albuquerque and take our Daybreak to Taos, Angel Fire and Red River often. The route is easy. There is a truck bypass around Santa Fe that saves quite a bit of time depending on which way you are driving. Just don't take the MH into the old part of Santa Fe. St Francis Dr. is not a bad route just lots of lights. Enjoy our fair state.
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Old 07-05-2013, 05:28 PM   #14
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Santa Fe, is just over 2200 ft. elevation. There are no mountains between Illinois and Santa Fe. Google Maps suggest going through Oklahoma City and Amarillo. Even if you were to go I-70 through Kansas, all your driving would be on the east side of the Front Range of the Rockies.

Mountain driving just means you pay attention to keeping control of your vehicle a bit more than on flat land. Going up a mountain, pay attention to RPMs, don't let the engine work too hard at low RPM, it will overheat. Downshifting to keep RPMs up circulates coolant faster and keeps things cooler. Going down a grade, never let speed build too high. Downshift and use engine braking. When you apply the brakes, do it firmly and briefly to slow you down and get back in control with engine braking. Don't ride the brake pedal or apply brakes for long periods of time, they'll get too hot. If you feel like you've braked too much and heated them up, find a place to pull over and take pictures to let things cool down again.
With a 2014 ACE you have the F53 engine with Torqshift transmission which will do most of the above for you. Going up hills, keep it in cruise as much as possible and let the TCM select the appropriate gear. Yes, it will scream at 4,200 to 4,500 rpm but the 6.8 likes running fast. On downslopes stay in cruise with Tow/Haul selected and the transmission will downshift itself to apply engine braking. Keep an eye on your speed and only apply the brakes if you are increasing speed beyond the cruise setting.

If you are looking at upgrades, I would highly recommend the 5 Star Tune.
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