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Old 03-10-2020, 08:34 AM   #15
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Go over Tehachapi pass to I-40. Take that to ABQ and then I-25 to Denver.
Piece of cake.
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Old 03-10-2020, 09:47 AM   #16
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Thanks again everyone. Here's my background for this question. A few months ago I bought the 2010 23' Keystone Cougar. It now weighs about 6800lbs. I then bought a 2012 vw Touareg turbodiesel with only 75,000 miles on it and the factory mods to emissions had been completed.
It has 407 ft.lbs. torque, 8 speed transit that can be manually shifted and handles the trailer up long grades at 55mph at just 3500 rpm. However, after a test run up a long grade,it blew a rod. The factory had the dealer test the fuel and it didn't pass the test. Skip forward a few weeks and the dealer talked the factory into putting a brand new engine in, under warranty. It was the last tdi engine in the U.S. It runs great, but being a rookie I'm still nervous.
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:06 AM   #17
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Hello DIYTOM,

You seem particularly interested in avoiding steep grades for your trip. As others have said, your point of departure in California and your tow vehicle has some bearing on your choice.

If you are departing the San Diego area I suggest that you take I8 to I10. I10 crosses the Continental Divide in a desert and you would not know you had crossed it if you didn't see the sign. Should you go this way you should leave I10 at Deming, NM and take New Mexico highway 26 north east to I25 at Hatch, NM. MN26 is a good, wide 2 lane highway. Taking it removes a bunch of miles from your trip. Go north on I25 to Denver. On I25 you will traverse Raton Pass right on the New Mexico/Colorado state line. Raton Pass isn't much of a pass for us mountain drivers but it can be intimidating for novice mountain drivers. Good up and down grade driving techniques are required.

I you are departing from anywhere near LA or north to about Fresno, make your way to Barstow and pickup I40. Take I40 to Alburqurque to catch I25 north. I40 has more grades than I10 but still not bad. You still have Raton Pass on this route.

From Fresno and points north consider I80. The grades on I80 are not the Rocky Mountains. They are when crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains while still in California. There are some serious grades on I80 in California. I80 from there is mostly tame with grades that shouldn't bother you if you successfully crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At Cheyenne take I25 South to Denver.

If I were intent on avoiding mountain driving as much as possible I would steer clear of I70. I70 from Vail, CO to Denver has some of the most challenging Interstate driving of any Interstate highway in the nation. Not only does it have long steep grades both up and down but it also carries a very heavy traffic load. It can be like driving in rush hour in a city while ascending/descending steep grades and challenging corners. I've been driving I70 since there has been an I70. Most of the time I avoid it if there is a reasonable alternative. The views are not worth the hassle to me.

You will have some grades to contend with regardless of your route. Do a little reading on the internet on mountain driving techniques. What ever your tow vehicle DO NOT rely solely on your brake pedal to slow you. Learn how to use your engine as a brake.
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Old 03-10-2020, 10:20 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DIYTOM View Post
Thanks again everyone. Here's my background for this question. A few months ago I bought the 2010 23' Keystone Cougar. It now weighs about 6800lbs. I then bought a 2012 vw Touareg turbodiesel with only 75,000 miles on it and the factory mods to emissions had been completed.
It has 407 ft.lbs. torque, 8 speed transit that can be manually shifted and handles the trailer up long grades at 55mph at just 3500 rpm. However, after a test run up a long grade,it blew a rod. The factory had the dealer test the fuel and it didn't pass the test. Skip forward a few weeks and the dealer talked the factory into putting a brand new engine in, under warranty. It was the last tdi engine in the U.S. It runs great, but being a rookie I'm still nervous.
I agree that 80 and then South on 25 or 40 and then north on 25 are preferable. The grades on 70 make it not worth it to me unless I have a destination on that route. And given your tow vehicle and trailer weight I opt for 40. Iíve driven both many times and drove both last summer and 40 is the easiest on a tow vehicle. You still have the Arizona Divide and the Continental Divide, but they are more manageable than the other routes. 80 isnt bad. Long pull East of SLC but if you gear down for it and are patient youíll be ok.
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:22 PM   #19
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If from southern CA, I-10 or I-40 to I-25 then north to Denver. Only pull of any significance is Raton Pass on the NM CO border, and it is an easy one. Last time I was on I-70 in western CO, about 3 years ago, the road was in terrible condition and then you have Vail Pass and Loveland Pass (to Eisenhower tunnel) to climb and descend, and a very long descent into Denver.
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Old 03-10-2020, 04:00 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by DIYTOM View Post
Thanks again everyone. Here's my background for this question. A few months ago I bought the 2010 23' Keystone Cougar. It now weighs about 6800lbs. I then bought a 2012 vw Touareg turbodiesel with only 75,000 miles on it and the factory mods to emissions had been completed.
It has 407 ft.lbs. torque, 8 speed transit that can be manually shifted and handles the trailer up long grades at 55mph at just 3500 rpm. However, after a test run up a long grade,it blew a rod. The factory had the dealer test the fuel and it didn't pass the test. Skip forward a few weeks and the dealer talked the factory into putting a brand new engine in, under warranty. It was the last tdi engine in the U.S. It runs great, but being a rookie I'm still nervous.
I would stay on the flats with that 4800# suv towing 7000#--
Its not the point of towing it--its the point of controlling it---That would be plenty for a 1/2 ton truck in the mountains--JMO
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:18 AM   #21
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If you pull up the OP's profile, he lives in Nipomo.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:09 AM   #22
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You being from Southern California, must have been over the grapevine before, if you where okay with that you will be fine with I70.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:33 AM   #23
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If you take I70 you can skip Vail Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel. Exit at Minturn and take Hwy US 24 over Tennessee Pass and on to Buena Vista. Then take Hwy US 285 over Trout Creek Pass, then Kenosha Pass. US 285 will bring you into south Denver. Lots more scenic, less traffic, and the grades are milder. Mostly 2 lane roads, US highways are better than state or county roads for the most part.
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Old 03-14-2020, 09:25 AM   #24
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If you take I70 you can skip Vail Pass and Eisenhower Tunnel. Exit at Minturn and take Hwy US 24 over Tennessee Pass and on to Buena Vista. Then take Hwy US 285 over Trout Creek Pass, then Kenosha Pass. US 285 will bring you into south Denver. Lots more scenic, less traffic, and the grades are milder. Mostly 2 lane roads, US highways are better than state or county roads for the most part.
I'd agree that RT 24 Minturn to Buena Vista is more scenic - the ride on RT 285 is really not. JMHO

If the Original poster can get to Colorado he surely can get over Loveland Pass on I-70 with little issue. I would suggest that by taking the RT 24 and RT 91 he could avoid the Vail Pass and see more great parts of Colorado, still getting through with a very gentile drive to Breck before heading up to/through the Tunnel.

If he is really Worried about doing any steep passes then Your Route would work for him.

In my quest to drive as many of the routes in Colorado as possible I have taken RT 285 only to find it to be one of the most boring drives West of the Foothills in Colorado - again - JMHO

It will be interesting to see what the OP does - as it appears he has a strong Puller that will need to use his gearing to go Down Hill and save his Brakes.

Think this has been a very inclusive post that will give the OP many things to think about and the Option to get where he wants to be with little Issue.

JMHO,
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Old 03-14-2020, 03:09 PM   #25
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I've read and commented on this post and find it an interesting post. The OP has told us he is driving a VW Touareg TDI. I have no doubt that he has more engine than is required to tow the trailer he has. The Touareg has very short overhangs beyond the bumpers. This moves the hitch much closer to the rear axle than on an American pickup. The short distance reduces the side to side leverage the trailer has on the axle. For this reason it will do well in corners and in windy conditions especially if he has an equalizer hitch. The Touareg has really good brakes and if he has added a good brake controller for the electric brakes on his trailer it will brake well.

However, it is a diesel engine and as such will have limited engine braking compared to a similar size gasoline engine. On long down hill grades it would be very easy to overwork both his car and trailer brakes even if he shifts into lower gears. His main tool for dealing with this limitation is knowledge. He needs to practice downhill driving to teach himself how to know the gear he manually shifts into for any situation to reduce the use of his friction brakes. SLOWER is better! He needs to learn his vehicle limitations. He might learn that for long steep declines like the grade from the top of Lookout Mountain on I70 to the intersection with C470 the maximum safe speed is 20 MPH!

Many will say go down the hill at the same speed you could go up the hill. That saying is NOT TRUE for a diesel engine vehicle that does not have some form of auxiliary braking.

There are companies that make exhaust brakes that could be adapted to his TDI. Probably $2K by the time it is installed. I have no idea how this would effect the longevity of his engine and transmission. It would definitely make downhill driving less stressful.
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:54 PM   #26
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I'd agree that RT 24 Minturn to Buena Vista is more scenic - the ride on RT 285 is really not. JMHO

If the Original poster can get to Colorado he surely can get over Loveland Pass on I-70 with little issue. I would suggest that by taking the RT 24 and RT 91 he could avoid the Vail Pass and see more great parts of Colorado, still getting through with a very gentile drive to Breck before heading up to/through the Tunnel.

If he is really Worried about doing any steep passes then Your Route would work for him.

In my quest to drive as many of the routes in Colorado as possible I have taken RT 285 only to find it to be one of the most boring drives West of the Foothills in Colorado - again - JMHO

It will be interesting to see what the OP does - as it appears he has a strong Puller that will need to use his gearing to go Down Hill and save his Brakes.

Think this has been a very inclusive post that will give the OP many things to think about and the Option to get where he wants to be with little Issue.

JMHO,
Loveland Pass is on US Hwy 6, not I70. It's both higher and steeper than anything I suggested. The approach to Eisenhower Tunnel from the west is a long uphill grade, something the OP was wanting to avoid. While Hwy US 285 through South Park may be less scenic, it has far less traffic than I70. It's possible to see all the 14ers in the Mosquito range, and sometimes bison on the ranches in the area. I70 is not all that scenic either. On the east side of Kenosha Pass it follows the South Platte River for a while and is very scenic. Plus the descent into Denver is much milder than I70.

Another thing to consider. If coming from the south and going north on I25, there is a major construction project between Colorado Springs & Denver. It has narrow lanes with walls on either side and accidents occur almost daily causing long traffic delays. Definitely not a pleasant driving experience.
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Old 03-15-2020, 06:33 AM   #27
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Loveland Pass is on US Hwy 6, not I70. It's both higher and steeper than anything I suggested. The approach to Eisenhower Tunnel from the west is a long uphill grade, something the OP was wanting to avoid. While Hwy US 285 through South Park may be less scenic, it has far less traffic than I70. It's possible to see all the 14ers in the Mosquito range, and sometimes bison on the ranches in the area. I70 is not all that scenic either. On the east side of Kenosha Pass it follows the South Platte River for a while and is very scenic. Plus the descent into Denver is much milder than I70.

Another thing to consider. If coming from the south and going north on I25, there is a major construction project between Colorado Springs & Denver. It has narrow lanes with walls on either side and accidents occur almost daily causing long traffic delays. Definitely not a pleasant driving experience.

My mistake - Should have said Under Loveland Pass on I-70 -
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