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Old 06-10-2021, 07:23 AM   #1
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Tucson to Black Hills

Bride and I are getting ready to leave Tucson (Mt. Lemmon) to spend a couple weeks in Casa Grande and then on to South Dakota. It is getting hot here and monsoon season may or may not happen. With our coach having only a C7 Cat we tend to avoid major elevation changes and higher elevations in general. Does anyone know the best route to miss the mountains? Albuquerque and then north takes us through Denver but there is also the route that would take us through Salt Lake City and miss Colorado completely. Iím sure some of you have made this trip! It may not be possible to get there from here without traveling some high mountain passes. Any help or advice appreciated!
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:52 AM   #2
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Maybe through Kayenta Az to Moab. I don’t think you can avoid big grades unless willing to travel far out of the way. Going east then north through Kansas. You’ll be as slow as the truckers. Don’t forget to downshift and save you brakes on downhills.
Good luck and enjoy.
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:57 AM   #3
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Bride and I are getting ready to leave Tucson (Mt. Lemmon) to spend a couple weeks in Casa Grande and then on to South Dakota. It is getting hot here and monsoon season may or may not happen. With our coach having only a C7 Cat we tend to avoid major elevation changes and higher elevations in general. Does anyone know the best route to miss the mountains? Albuquerque and then north takes us through Denver but there is also the route that would take us through Salt Lake City and miss Colorado completely. Iím sure some of you have made this trip! It may not be possible to get there from here without traveling some high mountain passes. Any help or advice appreciated!
We went from Goodyear to Rapid City to change our state of residency just a month ago. But we went to Verde Valley first.
So we went 1-40 to Albuquerque then picked up I-25 to Santa Fe. In Santa Fe we stayed at Santa Fe Skies RV Park for a couple of days. Instead of going straight north we went to Alamosa, but you could stay on I-25 and go thru Denver to I-76. Head to Sidney, Ne. and stayed at the Cabela's headquarters campground. We stayed there for 3 nights just to rest. Then we took 385 north from there toward Rapid City.
On I-25 there was construction north of Colorado Springs for about 10 miles, traffic thru Denver was not heavy we hit around 11am. I-76 just out of Denver was bumpy, there was also some small construction areas. After picking 138 then Hwy 113 to Sidney the road was very good.

Santa Fe we stayed at Santa Fe Skies
Alamosa, Co. we stayed at Cool Shine RV Park, national park Great Sand Dunes about 35 miles away.
Colorado Springs we stayed at Garden of the Gods for a couple of days
Sidney, Ne. we stayed at Cabela's campground
Rapid City we went to Box Elder and stayed at Americas Mailbox campground. It is just a big parking lot, but what we did it was okay.
Several campgrounds in that area the nicest one was near Spearfish, I think it was Elkhorn RV Resort.

If you are concerned about higher elevations you must avoid Alamosa to Colorado Springs route we did. There is a pass in there that goes to 9600+ feet. We drive a 2017 Ram 3500 pulling a 2018 Road Warrior weighing in at around 20K.
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:21 AM   #4
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If you want to avoid long grades check out this ROUTE. It is a combination of interstate highways and 2 lane highways. I have traveled them all and they are all in generally good condition.

This route crosses the Continental Divide somewhere out in the New Mexico desert. If there weren't a sign you would miss it! There are a few grades on the route but nothing that approaches a mountain pass.

The map goes to Hot Springs, SD. From there, route 79 is relatively flat and takes you to Rapid City, SD. US385 continues on from Hot Springs to Custer, SD without major grades.

I'm not sure this route is very much further than any route through the mountains. Be prepared for miles and miles of miles and miles. Large portions of this route have very little to look at that you didn't just see 2 miles back!
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:24 AM   #5
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Thanks DerekF and hamm2018 for all the great information. The information on where you stayed, hamm2018, is especially helpful. I think we will follow your route (avoiding Alamosa). It isnít that the Cat canít do it, we just try to miss the mountains if we can. We are pretty much flatlanders and enjoy the beaches more than the mountains!
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:27 AM   #6
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Why are you spending a couple weeks in Casa Grande.... 110 deg!!!!

1246 boring miles:

I-10 to Deming, NM then 26 to Hatch, NM
I-25 north just over the CO border
350 to 71 at LaJunta
I-76 to Sidney, NE
385 into SD then 79 to Rapid City, SD
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:32 AM   #7
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Thanks, Veloduster! Now I have options. We really donít care how long it gets to get there and since we winter in Texas we are used to long roads with nothing to see. Not bashing Texas, though. We love it!
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Old 06-10-2021, 09:01 AM   #8
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this may seem counterintuitive but some your more major grades may be in arizona. if you are going to go north from casa grande to i-40 the two routes are up i-17 to flagstaff or up AZ-87 though payson and then east on AZ-260 and eventually to holbrook and i-40.

you will go through phoenix which is 1,300 feet in elevation and join i-40 at about 7,000 feet in elevation.

once you get on i-40 it is not bad at all over to albuquerque and then north on i-25 up to cheyenne. from cheyenne there are several routes to rapid city.

enjoy the trip.

ps, pray that the monsoons actually do come!
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Old 06-10-2021, 09:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by twogypsies View Post
Why are you spending a couple weeks in Casa Grande.... 110 deg!!!!

1246 boring miles:

I-10 to Deming, NM then 26 to Hatch, NM
I-25 north just over the CO border
350 to 71 at LaJunta
I-76 to Sidney, NE
385 into SD then 79 to Rapid City, SD
Agreed. Skip Casa Grande. If you are really at Mt Lemmon, that's as cool as it gets until you get back in to mountains up north.....
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:05 PM   #10
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Thanks for the info, Twogypsies. We know it will be hot in Casa Grande but havenít seen our grandkids in over a year, so... Bigchick, we will probably backtrack to Deming and then head north. Hope you get a lot of rain because you sure do need it. Jack Klompus, I agree Mt. Lemmon is the coolest place to be in Arizona right now but with monsoon season starting and all the burn areas on the mountain I would hate to see a major landslide block the only road off this mountain!
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:09 PM   #11
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Thanks for the info, Twogypsies. We know it will be hot in Casa Grande but havenít seen our grandkids in over a year, so... Bigchick, we will probably backtrack to Deming and then head north. Hope you get a lot of rain because you sure do need it. Jack Klompus, I agree Mt. Lemmon is the coolest place to be in Arizona right now but with monsoon season starting and all the burn areas on the mountain I would hate to see a major landslide block the only road off this mountain!
... ahh.... grandkids .... that's different!! Yes, the rains - if they ever come - will create some erosion, for sure. Do you have a cabin on Mt. Lemmon? Not many places to put a big RV up there?
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:18 PM   #12
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You are right, Twogypsies, it is tight up here. We are working in a campground at almost 8000í. Since there is only one road up the mountain (there is a service road up the back side but no motorhome would ever be able to make it) I do have what I think are legitimate concerns. There are hoodoos on the way up that look like they are ready to fall at any minute. Only one way in and out is not a good thing. Sounds like you have spent some time here.
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Old 06-10-2021, 11:28 PM   #13
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You are right, Twogypsies, it is tight up here. We are working in a campground at almost 8000í. Since there is only one road up the mountain (there is a service road up the back side but no motorhome would ever be able to make it) I do have what I think are legitimate concerns. There are hoodoos on the way up that look like they are ready to fall at any minute. Only one way in and out is not a good thing. Sounds like you have spent some time here.
Yes, we've been up the mountain quite often but not with our 40' motorhome!
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Old 06-10-2021, 11:59 PM   #14
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Having lived in Santa Fe, NM for 40 years I've traveled all these routes. I would agree to most of the ideas. However, I-25 north of Santa Fe on the NM/Co state line has Raton Pass. It is not all that high but it does have a long accent grade. I would say consider heading north out of Santa Fe to Taos, NM then on to Fort Garlland, Co, pickup US-160 east to La Junita, Co and proceed as others have recommended. US-160 crosses I-25 at Walensburg, Co and you optionally take I-25 north as already proposed. Once while going to SD I turned east off I-25 at Colorado Springs taking US 24 at Limen 71 north into boring miles.

One fun overnight stop in that route was at Toad Stool Park, in Oglala National Grassland in far northwestern Nebraska. Small boondock site but very pretty and different.
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