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Old 12-18-2013, 11:29 AM   #1
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Westbound through the Rockies

We drive a gasser 35 ft. RV towing a PT Cruiser, and I am beginning to plan our 2014 tour of the nat. parks in the mid and southern part of the country. We will leave late summer, ( august ). We have driven across I-90 to beautiful Seattle, and returned I-80 from, San Francisco over Donner Pass, etc.

The question: Is I-70 westbound from Denver over the Rockies any more difficult to climb/descend; than these routes which we have previously travelled? We will be visiting family in Colorado Springs, and I would like to head to : Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, etc..

Thanks for your help.
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:32 AM   #2
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I've done those in a Bounder that size towing a car with no worries.
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:40 AM   #3
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Yes, I-70 has some higher elevations, close to 11,000', and the grades can be up to 7% for quite a few miles.

It is definitely doable, but take your time and make sure you're in the correct gear before starting your descent.
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:30 PM   #4
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From Colorado Springs there are some places (mostly west southwest of there) in Colorado that you should consider visiting on your way to Utah ... in particular Mesa Verde National Park and the "million dollar highway" between Durango and Ouray ...

Get some advice from your Colorado relatives, but I don't think you want to miss these ... they are highlights of ours ...
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:33 PM   #5
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One benefit of I-70 is that it's 4-lane all the way over to UT, and the passes are well maintained. The grades are long in places, but once settled into a constant speed, pretty easy to do. Here's a link detailing the Colorado mountain passes, elevations, and grades:

http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/m...in-passes.html

Here's an alternative route from Colorado Springs over to UT. Take I-25 south to highway 160 near Walsenburg, then head west. Highway 160 goes across southern Colorado to UT. There are two passes you'll go through - the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (9500 feet at the summit of the highway pass) are beautiful, and the highway grade there is fairly mild. The only mountain pass of consequence is after you leave South Fork, CO, and cross over Wolf Creek Pass. - summit elevation about 10,800 feet.

There are several very popular RV parks just west of South Fork. Once you leave the RV parks, there is about a 5 mile stretch of 2-lane highway going up to Wolf Creek that parallels a mountain stream with a few pull outs available to stop and allow traffic to pass. Then it opens up into a 4-lane highway for the rest of the trip over Wolf Creek Pass. The only part you need to really pay attention to is the downhill side of Wolf Creek Pass going into Pagosa Springs, CO. Gear down, don't ride the brakes, take your time, and the scenery is breathtakingly spectacular. If you're not used to mountain driving, you may wish to reconsider - we take this trip on a very frequent basis, living as we do in Pagosa Springs.

Highway 160 goes on through Durango, to Cortez, CO. You'll pass by Mesa Verde National Park just outside of Cortez - beautiful and educational, with two commercial RV parks at the entrance, and one inside the park. From Cortez, you can turn to the north to enter UT, go to Moab, UT, Arches National Monument, Canyonlands, and all the rest.

Zion is a beautiful experience - be sure to check out the height limitation on entering the park from the west - there's a tunnel that may cause you a problem once inside the park. They have to close two-way traffic through the tunnel to allow tall vehicles to pass.

Zion's Tunnel Information - Zion National Park tunnel

The Million Dollar Highway from Durango up through Ouray is a fantastic experience and will take you north to Grand Junction to rejoin I-70 - but if you are in the least not inclined to drive on roads with sheer drop offs having no guard rails (you'll be on the inside near the mountain heading north, and away from the drop offs), check it out first. In addition to the drop offs, there are a few tight twisty turns. Commercial buses and 18 wheelers make the trip routinely, but it's a bit unnerving the first time. I've been driving over that pass since the late 1950s.

Hope that helps! Enjoy the trip - beautiful country...
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:08 PM   #6
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That section of I70 is the only major east west highway we haven't traveled.

A trip this past summer was planned to go there and stay around the town of Frisco. That was plan A, however we were on plan G by the time we hit Utah and that didn't include the Eisenhower tunnel which Modern Marvels produced a show about how they built it.

Eisenhower Tunnel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:05 PM   #7
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if you are worrying about overheating or not enough power you can always disconnect the toad and let the little women follow you "over the hill".
i have seen several doing this before the Eisenhower tunnel.
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Old 12-18-2013, 06:19 PM   #8
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That section of I70 is the only major east west highway we haven't traveled. A trip this past summer was planned to go there and stay around the town of Frisco. That was plan A, however we were on plan G by the time we hit Utah and that didn't include the Eisenhower tunnel which Modern Marvels produced a show about how they built it. Eisenhower Tunnel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I70 between Denver and the junction of I15 is a spectacular drive and shouldn't be missed.
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Old 12-18-2013, 08:38 PM   #9
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Thanks to all who replied to my post. Your ideas are very appreciated. For me, planning the trip is a big part of the pleasure of the trip. The experience of those who have "been there and done that" is priceless.
Bob
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:06 AM   #10
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I-70 across Colorado - beautiful drive and we do it regularly. Drop down a couple of gears, keep the revs up, don't lug, and take whatever speed is best to keep the engine cool and pull over if the engine get a bit too hot. Doing all of the above... you'll find yourself in good company!
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Old 01-05-2014, 06:35 PM   #11
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We have driven across I-90 to beautiful Seattle, and returned I-80 from, San Francisco over Donner Pass, etc.
Interstate highways crossing the Rockies in an underpowered motorhome dragging a toad:

Listed in order of difficulty, easiest to most difficult:

I-10: If you don't pay close attention to road signs, you won't even realize you've crossed the Continental Divide.

I-40: Crossing the Continental divide is not a problem, but pulling up out of the Rio Grande valley near Albuquerque will tax your drivetrain.

I-80: There's a reason the Mormon Trail, the Oregon Trail and the California Trail all used this route over the Rockies. Actually there are two passes, because of a geological depression called the Great Basin. The Continental Divide splits and goes on both sides of the Great Basin, but both passes are under 8,000 feet so no big deal.

I-90: Very steep crossing the Continental Divide near Butte Montana. But it's relatively short drive, so not too bad if you aren't overloaded.

U.S. 160 over Wolf Creek Pass: No, I don't want to drive any heavily-loaded RV over that pass. Too long and too steep and 10,856 feet altitude - you can expect snow on the fourth of July.

I-70 thru the Eisenhower Tunnel then over Vail Pass. Two very long and very steep passes. Last choice of the obvious choices for crossing the Rockies.

I don't know about other routes. For example, U.S. 40 from Denver area through Winter Park, Steamboat Springs, Craig, and then on to Salt Lake City. I went skiing in Winter Park, but never continued on west. But because of Berthoud Pass on the Continental Divide, I wouldn't drive a motorhome over that route. Or U.S. 34 across Rocky Mountain National Park? Beautiful, but that's no place for a motorhome.

From Colorado Springs I would take I-25 and go either north to I-80 or south to I-40. If you want to see Mesa Verde National Park, then don't go all the way to I-40. A few miles before you get to Albuquerque on I-25, turn north on U.S. 550 to Durango. You'll cross the Continental Divide near Cuba NM, but it's another of those passes that you won't notice if you're not wide awake. (The Cuba area is a great place to camp in the summertime - nice and cool with lots of pine trees.)

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The question: Is I-70 westbound from Denver over the Rockies any more difficult to climb/descend; than these routes which we have previously travelled?
Difficulty similar to I-90, except I-90 steep part is only a few miles long while I-70 goes on and on and on - through the Eisenhower Tunnel then over Vail Pass.

I-80 is a piece of cake over the Rockies. And you won't be doing Donner Pass this trip. I have a granddaughter in Idaho, so we tow over I-80 frequently. We'll be doing it again in early April, dragging a 7,000 pound cargo trailer.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:59 AM   #12
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US hwy 50 is a good route to Utah,only one steep pass,Monarch(almost 12,000 ft).It is however a two lane road.Been that way several times and enjoy the trip,but it is slower travel.I agree with Smokey,flatest route is I80,but it can be windy.
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:28 PM   #13
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A Gasser towing a car shouldn't be crossing Wolf Creek Pass, in fact I wouldn't be on I-70 thru the tunnel between Denver & Glenwood Springs.
I've driven a semi thru these areas for 35 years & can't count the times I've come up on a motor home doing 20 mph & over heating in the left lane.
I80 is a good route or like SmokeyWren suggested go south on I-25 to I-40 west to Albuquerque then north on US 550 to Durango, this route is between the mountains & an easy drive.
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:44 PM   #14
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A Gasser towing a car shouldn't be crossing Wolf Creek Pass, in fact I wouldn't be on I-70 thru the tunnel between Denver & Glenwood Springs. I've driven a semi thru these areas for 35 years & can't count the times I've come up on a motor home doing 20 mph & over heating in the left lane. I80 is a good route or like SmokeyWren suggested go south on I-25 to I-40 west to Albuquerque then north on US 550 to Durango, this route is between the mountains & an easy drive.
Our first trip in our gasser (our first trip in any type of RV) we took Wolf Creek Pass from Cortez to the 25. It was fine. We'd do it again. Denver via the I 70 west into Utah through the tunnel is no problem. There is a lot of traffic, but if you take your time and are accustomed to traffic, you'll be fine. We were concerned after reading our mountain guide, but it was fine.
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