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Old 07-26-2014, 01:48 PM   #1
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Crested Butte to Carbondale to Aspen

I'm in Crested butte, CO, as of today 7/26/14. I'm wanting to go to the Maroon Bells/Maroon Lake area. In researching routing I've come across suggestions to avoid Independence Pass so I'm thinking of going through Carbondale to the NW. I've heard it's pretty, if I recall, and it seems there may be some BLM land up that way where I can boondock with my 33' Class C.

I'm asking for suggestions as to boondocking in the Carbondale area or other places along that route to Aspen. I like nature and photographing it, so that's something to bear in mind.

The route in blue on the attached map goes over Independence Pass along 82. One of the routes in gray, via 133 goes through Carbondale. I'm not totally sure that 133 is OK for my 33' Class C. Any comments about that would also be appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 07-26-2014, 06:44 PM   #2
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Russ,
I grew up in Aspen and know the area very well. DO NOT drive Independence Pass (Hwy 82) in your motorhome. Hwy 82 has length restrictions. Hwy 133 through the Crystal River to Carbondale is pretty windy and passable. I would suggest you go south to Gunnison, then North through Paonia. Maroon Bells, near Aspen most likely will be impossible to get a camping reservation this time of year. There is no dispersed camping in Pitkin County and very little in Garfield county.
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Old 07-26-2014, 08:47 PM   #3
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Russ,
I grew up in Aspen and know the area very well. DO NOT drive Independence Pass (Hwy 82) in your motorhome. Hwy 82 has length restrictions. Hwy 133 through the Crystal River to Carbondale is pretty windy and passable. I would suggest you go south to Gunnison, then North through Paonia. Maroon Bells, near Aspen most likely will be impossible to get a camping reservation this time of year. There is no dispersed camping in Pitkin County and very little in Garfield county.
Thank you kindly
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:16 PM   #4
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We live in Salida, on the east end of Monarch Pass on Hwy 50. We have a 33' National Dolphin (Class-A), and have driven over Independence Pass numerous times with this coach (no toad, too long), and have a great respect for it. The last time we went over, there were signs prohibiting combined lengths over 35'. This may have changed, so check with the CDOT website for more info, along with any unexpected closures from the recent rains we are experiencing. Since you are already on the west side of Monarch Pass, I agree with other statements about taking the west route to Paonia, which is a beautiful drive along CO 133. Just be sure to check the DOT website before you go, we are expecting some flooding after midnight thru tomorrow evening! Travel wisely, and enjoy Colorado.
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Old 07-27-2014, 06:56 AM   #5
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Last time we were over Independence Pass, we were headed east bound. We were some miles below the pass, when we met the first of two 18 wheelers headed up and west. They needed the entire roadway, including both shoulders to make the switch backs. I have no idea how they missed the numerous signs on the length restrictions. They had to have more trouble as they climbed. They had to use the entire oncoming lane after the pass to clear the overhanging rock faces on the Aspen side of the Pass going down.
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Old 07-27-2014, 11:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Firebug5 View Post
We live in Salida, on the east end of Monarch Pass on Hwy 50. We have a 33' National Dolphin (Class-A), and have driven over Independence Pass numerous times with this coach (no toad, too long), and have a great respect for it. The last time we went over, there were signs prohibiting combined lengths over 35'. This may have changed, so check with the CDOT website for more info, along with any unexpected closures from the recent rains we are experiencing. Since you are already on the west side of Monarch Pass, I agree with other statements about taking the west route to Paonia, which is a beautiful drive along CO 133. Just be sure to check the DOT website before you go, we are expecting some flooding after midnight thru tomorrow evening! Travel wisely, and enjoy Colorado.
Thank you.

133 sounds like the ticket, although I've been on the CDOT site and cannot tell the difference in the colors they use to show DRY and SLIDE! 133 is also not mentioned in the Conditions side bar.
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Old 07-27-2014, 11:11 AM   #7
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Last time we were over Independence Pass, we were headed east bound. We were some miles below the pass, when we met the first of two 18 wheelers headed up and west. They needed the entire roadway, including both shoulders to make the switch backs. I have no idea how they missed the numerous signs on the length restrictions. They had to have more trouble as they climbed. They had to use the entire oncoming lane after the pass to clear the overhanging rock faces on the Aspen side of the Pass going down.
How did you manage to pass them if they needed the whole road and shoulders?
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Old 07-27-2014, 05:53 PM   #8
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Sorry for not seeing your post this morning! If you go to:
Road Conditions, Speeds, Travel Times, Traffic Cameras, Live Streaming Traffic Cameras, Road Closures and Road Work Information provided by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) a branch of Colorado Department of Transportation and look on the right side, you will see the color codes for all road conditions. CO 133 currently shows to be dry. If a road is closed, a round red symbol with a white line will be placed on the road near the incident. If you click on the symbol, more details will appear, including when the road was closed, and the reason for closure. I use the map feature the most, but you can look at all the features and see what works best for you. CDOT also has apps for phones. Travel safe!
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:48 PM   #9
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Sorry for not seeing your post this morning! If you go to:
Road Conditions, Speeds, Travel Times, Traffic Cameras, Live Streaming Traffic Cameras, Road Closures and Road Work Information provided by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) a branch of Colorado Department of Transportation and look on the right side, you will see the color codes for all road conditions. CO 133 currently shows to be dry. If a road is closed, a round red symbol with a white line will be placed on the road near the incident. If you click on the symbol, more details will appear, including when the road was closed, and the reason for closure. I use the map feature the most, but you can look at all the features and see what works best for you. CDOT also has apps for phones. Travel safe!
No apologies necessary, and thanks for the info. I'll revisit the CDOT site. Meanwhile, I've already written to their web master to say I could not distinguish between the colors used for Dry and Slide. I can see the difference in the legend but comparing the color on the map to the legend I cannot tell. Their colors also cover up the road numbers!
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:20 PM   #10
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I agree with everything you have said about the CDOT site, so many other states do it much better. I typically use the 3 tabs located on the right side of the site (Road Conditions, Travel Alerts, and Road Work Alerts) before I travel, especially when going thru the mountains. If you look at the top of the site page, there are additional tabs marked "Truckers" and "Mobile App" that will help once you are on the way. Good luck, travel safe!
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:53 PM   #11
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How did you manage to pass them if they needed the whole road and shoulders?
We were on the east side slope, above the beaver dam valley, where the roadway had been redone recently, widened, and improved. Had we been higher, or on the tight western side, and in the rocky overhanging sections in the tree line, we would have been in trouble.

We had just finished rounding a 180. He was in the next 190 degree switchback, downslope of us, taking all the road and both shoulders moving at less than 10mph. We were able to make a full stop in our lane, and let him finish his turn, and get back into his climbing lane. I commented on the radio to the next bike,_"oh damn, what is he doing on this route?" We start to roll on down the mountain, and get to the corner, and are greeted with the next truck, just swinging on our side of the roadway's shoulder already. He stopped, and we were able to squeeze by on the wrong side of the roadway shoulder, wrong side of his trailer. With any speed or delay of seconds we would have had an accident with no where to go to escape his trailer across the entire roadway. The same thing happens on the "Trail of the Dragon in TN and KY, and there are numerous videos and photos of such accidents. Trucks running over bikers or vehicles, or them going under the trailers in the switchbacks.

Be careful out there.
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