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Old 01-03-2021, 02:39 PM   #1
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Durango to Grand Junction

Have been invited to tag along with my son and his family from Atlanta to Durango this spring. My concern is hiway from Durango to Grand Junction.
2016 Newmar Canyon Star 3911 towing a Jeep 4 dr Wrangler.
It has been years since we were in that part of the country and were moteling it then. Interested in sites, RV parks, road(s) and side trips.
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:19 PM   #2
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First.... you mentioned 'spring'. That can be too early in the season for driving in the mountains.

A couple ways to get there... 550 north to Delta and 50 to Grand Junction
This includes Red Mountain Pass which is a biggie. The climb would be from Durango to Ouray. From there it's easy-going. We're used to taking the 40' motorhome on high passes so it's just fine with us. However, if you're not used to mountain driving this one is a lot easier:

160 west to Cortez then either 145 north to 141 to 50.... this is still a climb to Telluride but easier than 550 or...

160 west to Cortez then 491 to 141 to 50 .... the easiest but longer and curvier and you'll have steep descents rather than climbs.

Your RV is very capable of doing any of these routes. It just depends on how you feel about high mountain driving.

Which one to take also depends on where you're heading from there.
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:38 PM   #3
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Personally, I'd go through Telluride.
I've driven 550 in the car, but I'd avoid it in my Class A.
I know many have done it, just not me. My wife would have a heart attack.
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:43 PM   #4
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550 from Durango, then to Ouray is a beautiful drive. It's very mountainous with a couple of really high passes and all kinds of cliffs and drop-offs. A lot of it doesn't have guardrails. I drive it all the time in a regular car for work, but I would avoid it in my motorhome unless I really needed to go that way. It would terrify my wife. I once took a guy I worked with that way while he was driving, and towing a 28 foot bumper pull work trailer behind a F-350 dually. He was was so stressed out he really didn't enjoy the drive.

If I was by myself and wasn't worried about my co-pilots blood pressure, I'd do it. It's only like a 75 mile drive lol. You won't be the slowest thing on the road, and all kinds of trucks go through there. In the summer, sometimes the road is partially closed because the CDOT is clearing rockslides from the winter.

The road can be closed due to blizzards from Sept till May.

If I was going to GJ from Durango and had any doubts I'd either do 160-184-491 through Moab then I-70. or go through Telluride. Those roads are always open, even when bad weather closes 550. You can't really go wrong with any of these routes, the entire trip is a "Kodak Moment"

US 50 from Montrose to GJ is pretty boring.
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:16 PM   #5
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Don’t do Red Mountain Pass. Stress plus the braking on the downside isn’t worth it. And this comes from someone who has driven the “Sea To Sky” highway in BC in a 40’ motor home.
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Old 01-03-2021, 10:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc View Post
Have been invited to tag along with my son and his family from Atlanta to Durango this spring. My concern is hiway from Durango to Grand Junction.
2016 Newmar Canyon Star 3911 towing a Jeep 4 dr Wrangler.
It has been years since we were in that part of the country and were moteling it then. Interested in sites, RV parks, road(s) and side trips.
Ton of stuff to see in CO. Durango is a great town, so is Telluride and Ouray. You got to see all of them:-) Also, you should have mountain driving experience if going to CO. I would get the Mountain Directory West for Truckers paperback and study that. It is great for planning trips and wanting to know what elevations are on certain roads, which passes to avoid etc etc etc, and all the comments they have. It will be a very good investment. You can buy the West version here on Amazon.
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Old 01-04-2021, 02:07 PM   #7
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I would go the Telluride route. You still have to cross Lizard Head Pass (4% grade) but it not nearly the pucker factor as going US-550 (7%). I've done several CO passes in my RV but have only done the above ones in my car and would not hesitate to go Lizard Head in my coach but would never take it over US-550.
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Old 01-04-2021, 03:38 PM   #8
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I'll ditto other comments. Unless you are very experienced with mountain driving, avoid Hwy 550. I've driven it in car, Jeep and ridden motorcycle over it for over 40 years and I wouldn't take my motorhome over it unless I had to. The tightest and twistiest part is between Silverton and Ouray. There are some turns that you would have to use most of the roadway to avoid very close rocks on one side and a 500 foot drop on the other with no guard rail or shoulder. But if you can possibly do it in a car, take the drive because it's one of the most spectacular drives you will ever take.
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Old 01-04-2021, 04:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doc View Post
Have been invited to tag along with my son and his family from Atlanta to Durango this spring.

My concern is Highway from Durango to Grand Junction.

2016 Newmar Canyon Star 3911 towing a Jeep 4 dr Wrangler.

It has been years since we were in that part of the country and were moteling it then.

Interested in sites,

RV parks,
road(s) and
side trips.
First off - let me Say this is IMHO one of the most Beautiful Spots in the US. PERIOD - so whatever you have planned in reference to time, you will need to Increase it - As Much as Possible!

I will leave you a link and it will Help - this is an area that deserves more time and more exploration than most will give it - that is Why most of Us Return again and again. I'll Just Name Drop - Ouray - Silverton - Red Mountain - Lake City - Rico - Ridgway - Alpine Loop - Lakes - Streams - Rivers - National Forests - Reservoirs.......On and On

This Link may help - https://www.irv2.com/forums/f42/oura...it-442372.html

This drive was been discussed for years - I used to be in the Camp to Drive it in the RV - - - Not after last year, Just driving the Toad, I was almost forced off the road Multiple time by those "New Mountain" Drivers, who Just had to Prove they "Could Do It" They did it, but it is so much more crowded today than it used to be, and is just over crowded. The road is open year round - BUT after last years drives on RT 550, in the Toad, I have switched Camps and will advise all those in RV's to just take the Drive around through Rico on to Ridgeway then back to Ouray, RT 550, it is a drive all should take, as it is just Beautiful, and easy in RV's Leave the RT 550 to those who need to be there and then drive it in the Toad - it just deserves your ability to Stop and Enjoy the Shear beauty it offers the afore mentioned weather, unless immediate, will not be an Issue.

You have a 4X4 this will open up a world of travel and Adventure - take advantage of it - my experience will tell you that Locals are the Best source of Knowledge - so seek them out and explore those Mountains.

Another link I'll leave you will give you images of the San Juan's - Stan has one of the best and most organized Photo's of his travels - use it to help decide many of the - https://www.pbase.com/sparker1/root%26view=tree -

As far as suggestions on CG's the State Park is your Best bet if you can get in - https://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Ridgway - Ouray has a number of options near or in town. The National Forest also has boondocking option if that might work for you.

Here are the two RT Maps that will help - neither go through Telluride - - Telluride is a dead end route.

https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=ee134...=2&form=S00027

https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=77e89...=2&form=S00027

Last I'll mention Mesa Verde NP as it is really not that far and well worth the effort.

Give us a little more info and we can try to help a little more.

Best of Luck,
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Old 01-04-2021, 04:21 PM   #10
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I would go the Telluride route. You still have to cross Lizard Head Pass (4% grade) but it not nearly the pucker factor as going US-550 (7%).
Lizard Head Pass is greater than 4%. Starting northbound from Cortez at 6190' elevation you need to climb to 10,222' elevation to Lizard Head Pass south of Telluride.

The 'Mountain Directory' as talked about in the above posts, gives a description of Hwy 145 for the northbound descent into Telluride from the Pass as the first 3 miles of curvy 5-6% grades. Then 6 miles of rolling hills with 30 and 35 mph curves. The last 3 miles into Telluride are steady 5-6% downhill with 30 mph curves.

From Telluride to Placerville at the intersection of 145/62, you will descent for 6-7% for about 3 miles.

Then if you want to take 50 into Grand Junction at Placerville you'd pick up Hwy 62 which has the Dallas Divide at 8970' elevation. It's halfway between Placerville and Ridgeway. From the summit you'll have 6% for 6 miles. Once you come to Ridgeway it's smooth sailing to Grand Junction.

Hwy 550 (Red Mtn. Pass) from Durango to Ouray you'll have 7% grades. The problem some have is only the section between Silverton and Ouray as it doesn't have guardrails and no shoulder so the road appears narrow. Northbound the dropoff is in the opposite lane so it doesn't pose a problem like southbound where you have to drive right on the edge.

Definitely drive it in your car though as that's gorgeous country & that's how you get to all the fabulous 4x4 trails. Silverton is a neat historic town. If you're lucky to be there over the July 4 weekend they put on quite a fireworks show and the parade is great. We always boondocked at South Mineral Creek BLM area and spend 2-4 weeks there.

There's absolutely no reason to avoid this whole area driving a RV. 550 between Silverton & Ouray maybe yes if you're not comfortable with mountain driving. But the other ways to Grand Junction are very doable and thousands and thousands of RVers have done it. That's why there's campgrounds there!
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Old 01-04-2021, 04:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
Lizard Head Pass is greater than 4%. Starting northbound from Cortez at 6190' elevation you need to climb to 10,222' elevation to Lizard Head Pass south of Telluride.

The 'Mountain Directory' as talked about in the above posts, gives a description of Hwy 145 for the northbound descent into Telluride from the Pass as the first 3 miles of curvy 5-6% grades. Then 6 miles of rolling hills with 30 and 35 mph curves. The last 3 miles into Telluride are steady 5-6% downhill with 30 mph curves.

From Telluride to Placerville at the intersection of 145/62, you will descent for 6-7% for about 3 miles.

Then if you want to take 50 into Grand Junction at Placerville you'd pick up Hwy 62 which has the Dallas Divide at 8970' elevation. It's halfway between Placerville and Ridgeway. From the summit you'll have 6% for 6 miles. Once you come to Ridgeway it's smooth sailing to Grand Junction.

Hwy 550 (Red Mtn. Pass) from Durango to Ouray you'll have 7% grades. The problem some have is only the section between Silverton and Ouray as it doesn't have guardrails and no shoulder so the road appears narrow. Northbound the dropoff is in the opposite lane so it doesn't pose a problem like southbound where you have to drive right on the edge.

Definitely drive it in your car though as that's gorgeous country & that's how you get to all the fabulous 4x4 trails. Silverton is a neat historic town. If you're lucky to be there over the July 4 weekend they put on quite a fireworks show and the parade is great. We always boondocked at South Mineral Creek BLM area and spend 2-4 weeks there.

There's absolutely no reason to avoid this whole area driving a RV. 550 between Silverton & Ouray maybe yes if you're not comfortable with mountain driving. But the other ways to Grand Junction are very doable and thousands and thousands of RVers have done it. That's why there's campgrounds there!
Twogypsies is correct in the assessment of the area - I will say that many people can handle RT 550 - Issue is with the amount of Inexperienced drivers and the increased Traffic making it just not nearly the drive it used to be - JMHO.

Drive it in your Toad from either Direction and see what you think -it's a great way to Spend a Day up and Back.

Let me include a few more images as it is Spectacular and the Road looks so good in Color.



Some old - some new - and one Alpine Loop - even in the Winter - it is Just Beautiful!
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Old 01-05-2021, 11:00 AM   #12
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Better yet, take the bus up to Silverton and the train back down.
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Old 01-06-2021, 11:10 AM   #13
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One more option - if Cold and Still Spring - Snowing - might just look to this as an interesting and Different Option if Grand Junction in the Next stop.

MAP - https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=259a5...=2&form=S00027

So many options just never enough Time -
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Old 01-08-2021, 01:15 PM   #14
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Thanks folks, this is exactly the kind of inside information we are searching for. We have done the Big Horns our of Buffalo a few time in the MH and have no qualms about mountains in the diesel coaches we had back those years. Just a little bothered that we might be in someone's way when we start up some of the long grades in the gasser.
Finding gas in another concern because doing a Google Earth look I didn't see much.
Weather is still on my mind however. I guess 'you pays yo nickel and takes yo chance' in that regard.
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