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Old 06-22-2021, 05:09 PM   #1
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Phoenix to Estes Park, Co.

I am in Phoenix, Az today and would like to travel to Estes Park Co leaving tomorrow 6/23/2021.

I am considering this route:
Phoenix to Flagstaff Az. I-17 (no problem here)
Flagstaff, Az to Tuba City US 89 (looks safe to me)
Tuba City to Durango, Co. US 160 (Not sure about this leg)
Durango to Grand Junction Co. US 550 (I am questioning this leg)
Grand Junction to Empire, Co. I-70 (no problem here)
Empire, Co to Granby Co. US 40 (Questioning this leg)
Granby, Co to Estes Park, Co. US 34 (Questioning this leg)

I am driving a 2017 Phaeton, 380 hp pulling a Mini Cooper (about 2,500 pounds)
Is any leg of this trip not reasonable for a 42 foot motorhome towing a car?
Thank you for sharing any information about this route.
Bob
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Old 06-22-2021, 05:26 PM   #2
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All the roads is good for your 42' MH. We've done them at one time or another with our 40'.

An issue you may have is 550 (Red Mtn. Hwy) from Durango to Grand Junction. I suggest you read up on it. We've done it many times but then we're in the mountains all the time so mountain driving doesn't bother us. The section in question for many folks is from Silverton to Ouray. It's short but descending from the summit of the Pass toward Ouray is 7% grade. It's 25 mph. The first 3.5 mi there are 10 hairpin turns with speed limit of 10 & 15 mph. There is very little shoulder. Having said that, many big RVs travel it as do semi trucks so it is doable.

Hwy 145 from Cortez northward is easier.

Empire to Granby - Berthoud Pass EL 11,307' 6 mi. at 6% descent from the summit.

Granby to Estes Park is driving Trail Ridge Rd. through Rocky Mtn. NP. First thing is to check the park's website. I think you now need a reserved time to drive it.... and it's a biggie and weather can be iffy. EB is 15 mi descent with 6-7% curves.

I really suggest you get the 'Mountain Directory for Truckers & RVers' which will give you details on these drives and many more in the West. There's also an eastern edition. We used it constantly even though we may have driven a route previously. It just refreshes us as to what's to come. Naturally, all mountain driving is beautiful! There's a book form and an online version. I like books.

So basically, if you're not familiar with these mountain roads I'd suggest you take your planned 160 to 145 at Cortez, CO to Grand Junction. Then I-70 to 93/36 to Estes Park. (Your first plan to Estes from Grand Junction was 254 mi. My recommendation is 292 mi..... not much difference & a lot easier.)
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Old 06-22-2021, 09:22 PM   #3
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Would not do your route over Red Mountain and definitely not over Trail Ridge Road. I would go through Moab to Grand Juction then I-70 to Denver- then I-25 N to 66 West to Estes. Get setup and explore with the toad. Definitely not the most scenic ( not bad though) but surely the fastest to Estes. Good luck and travel safe
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Old 06-22-2021, 09:38 PM   #4
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Looks like 62 in Ridgway through town could be under construction. Using RV Trip Wizard there is an undetermined route north to cross the river or another about a mile south to cross. Wish I knew about overhead clearances on either of these detours, looks like they are both on gravel. I am towing a car, have to drive slow, save a windshield, if I can't get through the construction.

Thanks for the tip,
Bob
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Old 06-22-2021, 09:40 PM   #5
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Trail Ridge Road?
I will see if I can find which one that is.
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Old 06-22-2021, 10:45 PM   #6
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Trail Ridge Road?
I will see if I can find which one that is.
Trail Ridge Rd. is Hwy 34.
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Old 06-22-2021, 10:59 PM   #7
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Looks like 62 in Ridgway through town could be under construction. Using RV Trip Wizard there is an undetermined route north to cross the river or another about a mile south to cross. Wish I knew about overhead clearances on either of these detours, looks like they are both on gravel. I am towing a car, have to drive slow, save a windshield, if I can't get through the construction.
I don't find any construction on 62:

https://www.localconditions.com/weat...32/traffic.php

https://www.codot.gov/projects/southwestern-projects

A little longer but if you want to avoid 62 take 145 to 141 to I-70.

Also, you don't have to go into Denver to reach Estes Park. From I-70 take 6 to Golden then 93 north to Boulder then 36 to Lyons and on to Estes Park.
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Old 06-23-2021, 07:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbe111 View Post
I am in Phoenix, Az today and would like to travel to Estes Park Co leaving tomorrow 6/23/2021.

I am considering this route:
Phoenix to Flagstaff Az. I-17 (no problem here)
Correct.
Flagstaff, Az to Tuba City US 89 (looks safe to me)
Fine - is safe.
Tuba City to Durango, Co. US 160 (Not sure about this leg)
I would Question Why Durango - Suggest you avoid RT 550 through the San Juan's - Two Options - On through on RT 160 going throught Pagosa Springs - or Up through Cortez and Rico to Ridgway and Lizard head Pass - Easy Beautiful.
Durango to Grand Junction Co. US 550 (I am questioning this leg)
IMHO this avoids too much of the Colorado Most drive so far to see, I would suggest you take the time to Look at getting out throught Pagosa Springs then Up to Salida/Buena Vista/Leadville before heading to I-70 on RT 91 then in Silverthorne - Take RT 9 to Kremmling then on to Grabd Lake.
Grand Junction to Empire, Co. I-70 (no problem here)
If this is the choice - No problem here
Empire, Co to Granby Co. US 40 (Questioning this leg)
Look at running up to Kremmling along the river easy and is the suggested route.
Granby, Co to Estes Park, Co. US 34 (Questioning this leg)
If this is your choice just try to make the Drive Early in the AM or stay by the Lake and drive the Toad.

I am driving a 2017 Phaeton, 380 hp pulling a Mini Cooper (about 2,500 pounds)
Is any leg of this trip not reasonable for a 42 foot motorhome towing a car?
Thank you for sharing any information about this route.
Bob
Your Coach will be fine - may slow a bit on the Passes but they are so Beautiful what is the Hurry, I strongly suggest the drive up to Buena Vista - just a Beautiful Drive - BUT - I would also suggest you stop around Durango and Enjoy the San Juan's as they are almost as beautiful as RMNP and easier to enjoy.

JMHO,


edit - MAP - https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=cadcd...=2&form=S00027
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Old 06-23-2021, 08:59 AM   #9
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Your Coach will be fine - may slow a bit on the Passes but they are so Beautiful what is the Hurry, I strongly suggest the drive up to Buena Vista - just a Beautiful Drive - BUT - I would also suggest you stop around Durango and Enjoy the San Juan's as they are almost as beautiful as RMNP and easier to enjoy.

JMHO,


edit - MAP - https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=cadcd...=2&form=S00027
If you were to decide not to use Trail Ridge and wanted to get to the Other Side of the Continetal Divide to get to Estes - then Peak to Peak might just be your Route. A left hand Exit just at the Eastern side of Idaho Springs then on up to Estes in the Mountains - easy drive - Beautiful Drive - Nederland - Golden Gate Canyon SP - on to Estes - avoids the traffic of the Cities - especially Boulder.

Map Here - https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=c35fd...=2&form=S00027

Lot's of Options - just need to decide what works for YOU!

Best of Luck,
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Old 06-24-2021, 08:02 PM   #10
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I have lived in Colorado for 57 years. If I were doing your route with your rig, I would definitely avoid both US 550 and Trail Ridge (US 34 from Grand Lake to Estes Park). In fact, I avoid them with my fifth wheel despite having driven both roads innumerable times in my cars and trucks. Wait until you get to Estes, then take the Mini Cooper on 12,000' Trail Ridge--it's a blast (we have a 2012 Mini Cooper).

You could do the same thing on gorgeous US 550 if you take CO 145 to CO 62 and spending a couple of nights in Ouray--the "Switzerland of the Rockies.". A second benefit of a Ouray stay is the public hot springs pool! If you can't get a reservation in Ouray, try Ridgway State Park. Elk Ridge is one of our favorite Colorado state park campgrounds.

Just don't avoid the San Juans--they among our most spectacular mountain ranges. Far more, in my opinion, than the Front Range around Estes Park.
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Old 06-24-2021, 08:03 PM   #11
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I have lived in Colorado for 57 years. If I were doing your route with your rig, I would definitely avoid both US 550 and Trail Ridge (US 34 from Grand Lake to Estes Park). In fact, I avoid them with my fifth wheel despite having driven both roads innumerable times in my cars and trucks. Wait until you get to Estes, then take the Mini Cooper on 12,000' Trail Ridge--it's a blast (we have a 2012 Mini Cooper).

You could do the same thing on gorgeous US 550 if you take CO 145 to CO 62 and spend a couple of nights in Ouray--the "Switzerland of the Rockies.". A second benefit of a Ouray stay is the public hot springs pool! If you can't get a reservation in Ouray, try Ridgway State Park. Elk Ridge is one of our favorite Colorado state park campgrounds.

Just don't avoid the San Juans--they among our most spectacular mountain ranges. Far more, in my opinion, than the Front Range around Estes Park.
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Old 07-04-2021, 10:45 PM   #12
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Thank you for all of the suggestions.
We left Tuba City campground on 160 to Cortez, 145 out of Cortez through Delores, to Placerville, 62 out of Placerville to 550 at Ridgway, North on 550 to Grand Junction.

It was a wonderful drive, the 380 hp Phaeton did ok.... I would hate to take the same route without an engine (Jake) brake, I wonder how a 450 hp engine would handle it. However I did see class "C" motorhomes on the route running both directions, so it can be done.
Next time out in the area I will use a different route just to tour the area. I would like to take that route of 160 out to 112 to 285 to I 70 as Busskipper suggests.
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:21 AM   #13
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On your next trip, be sure to take your toad on US 550 from Durango to Ouray or the reverse, even if you are riding the train. You can stop and have lunch/shop in eclectic Silverton to experience one of Colorado's last mining towns with an active underground gold mine. The Sunnyside Mine operated until the mid-1990s, so a number of former miners still live there.

Silverton gives you a better picture of what life in an isolated mining town was like than "mining-turned-resort" towns like Telluride, Crested Butte, or Aspen. Keep in mind that the train doesn't run in winter and that parts of 550 can be blocked by avalanches to imagine how isolated it can get. Plus it has one of the highest snowfall totals in the state. So, good expert skiing, if you can get there!
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