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Old 05-26-2018, 07:49 AM   #1
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Best way to Ridgeway

My wife and I are thinking of Colorado this summer, and we hear good things about Ridgeway State Park. I was thinking of a nice scenic drive up hwy 550 through Durango, to Silverton.....until I saw the Million Dollar Highway! That is No Way to Ouray!! Any good suggestions to tow a 33 ft trailer from I-40 or I-25 without having to go all the way up to Denver and I-70? We are coming yp from Texas. We are also open to other scenic destinations with at least electric (but no dry camping.)
Thanks!
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Old 05-26-2018, 08:32 AM   #2
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US287 out of Fort Worth to I40 to Amarillo US287 north to US50 West to Pueblo to Montrose. US550 South to Ridgeway. Monarch Pass is between Pueblo and Montrose and it does have some 7% grades but not like US550 between Silverton and Ouray. When we go from TX it's Waco/Fort Worth/Amarillo/Albuquerque/Durango/Ridgeway. 38 foot MH with toad.
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Old 05-26-2018, 10:34 AM   #3
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Thanks. I will check that out.
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Old 05-26-2018, 10:52 AM   #4
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If you don't want to go over Monarch Pass on US 50, you can also take I-40 to Albuquerque, then US 550 to Durango. That part of US 550 is mostly 4-lane and recently repaved, so very fast and easy while towing. You could even camp at Nageezi and visit Chaco Culture National Park along the way (you probably don't want to take your trailer on the Chaco road even though they have a campground in the NP).

After riding the train from Durango to Silverton, take US 160 to Mesa Verde NP, then drive north on CO 145 from Dolores to Telluride and Placerville, then CO 62 to Ridgway. You can camp at Ridgway State Park and drive your tow vehicle to Ouray and back to Silverton from the north in order to see what you missed by not towing your trailer on the Million Dollar Highway.

Or, you can take I-40 and US 84/I-25 to Santa Fe, then US 285/US 84 to Chama, NM and Pagosa Springs, CO. If you do that route, be sure to stop in Chama to ride the train and stop again for a couple of hours at the new Chimney Rock National Monument (very different from Mesa Verde). Then drive US 160 west to Durango and Mesa Verde NP. This route avoids Wolf Creek Pass on US 160, so one less high mountain pass to cross and, as a side benefit, is through some beautiful mountain and plateau scenery

If you want camping suggestions along US 50, US 550, and US 160 in Colorado, take a look at my Colorado RV blog HERE.
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Old 05-26-2018, 11:12 AM   #5
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Excellent blog! While dispersed camping is not our thing you some some great info there. We will sit down with a map and check out the suggested route. We've been to Mesa Verde, Durango, and Silverton and loved the area. Looking forward to spending more time there and hopefully fly fishing some mountain streams.
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Old 05-26-2018, 11:23 AM   #6
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You probably don't want to drive 150 from Durango to Silverson. We were there last fall and it was one way traffic around some very sharp curves due to road repair.

We didn't drive it. We took the train from Durango to Silverton and rode the bus back. You can do it in half a day.

Beautiful scenery that I would have missed because I was driving. Clinging to side of mountains in a rv vehicle doesn't appeal to me.
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Old 05-26-2018, 12:18 PM   #7
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Ridgway

I want to echo what Bubbles said. If you get off I-25 just north of Walsenburg and take CO 69 then US 50 to Salida, Monarch Pass is the only significant pass you have to cross on the way to Ridgway. And US 50 over Monarch Pass is wide and gradual with plenty of places to stop if necessary. Then, it's downhill to Gunnison and mostly flat all the way to Montrose and Ridgway. I've done this several times with a 26 foot Flagstaff pulled by an F150. Easy peasy.

If you take that route, be sure you check out Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Just a short side trip off US 50. Breath-taking and unforgettable.
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Old 05-26-2018, 12:33 PM   #8
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Wolf Creek Pass and the Million Dollar Highway in my opinion are must see's and do's. Train ride Durango to Silverton is a bit long, but a great trip. Spectacular mountains scenery both train and highway, but I prefer highway, SW Colorado is where the Blue Spruce grow so well. Wolf Creek and MDH Roads are not that difficult if you are experienced and the roads were excellent when I travelled both in my motor home last year. However if you are going to be staying at Ridgeway (True Grit filmed there, the John Wayne version), you can go to Silverton and part way to Durango and back and see all that is spectacular on MDH. Don't forget that you see different things going and coming on any scenic drive, worth it, going both ways.

Gone there a lot and usually go to Albuqueque, then Cortez, probably the fastest route. Going on I 40 west to Clines Corner then north to Sante Fe, then to Chama, then Pagosa Springs, then Durango, then Cortez, then to Telluride over Lizard Head Pass (not difficult) to Ridgeway would be my recommendation if you have never been in the area.

Don't miss Mesa Verde, consider a trip into Utah as well to Canyonlands, Arches, etc.
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Old 05-26-2018, 01:28 PM   #9
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Another possibility is to go to Walsenburg and head west on US 160 through Alamosa to Monte Vista. Turn right on US 285 to Saguache, then head west up SH 114 over North Cochetopa Pass to US 50 and Gunnison and Montrose via the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Then left at Montrose to Ridgway. It's an easier pull for an RV and very scenic. Be sure to gas up in Saguache before heading west.
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:05 PM   #10
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When we drove US 50 last October, one lane of the highway on the east side of Cerro Summit was closed and being reconstructed due to the latest of the many landslide on that pass. Had to wait for a pilot car and a long line of traffic coming the other direction, not fun when towing a 5th wheel from Ridgway SP back to Denver. So, I would check the "Colorado 511" Web site to see if that construction is completed.

FYI, many RVers don't realize that Cerro Summit, while not as high as Monarch Pass, is just as steep, long, and winding, just fewer trees and much less scenic.
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:10 PM   #11
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When we drove US 50 last October, one lane of the highway on the east side of Cerro Summit was closed and being reconstructed due to the latest of the many landslide on that pass. Had to wait for a pilot car and a long line of traffic coming the other direction, not fun when towing a 5th wheel from Ridgway SP back to Denver. So, I would check the "Colorado 511" Web site to see if that construction is completed.

FYI, many RVers don't realize that Cerro Summit, while not as high as Monarch Pass, is just as steep, long, and winding, just fewer trees and much less scenic.
That was last year...

I believe that work is done now!
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:18 PM   #12
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Yep, I just checked the Cerro Summit Webcam (HERE) and the reconstruction and repaving looks to be completed.
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Old 05-26-2018, 02:23 PM   #13
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Yep, I just checked the Cerro Summit Webcam (HERE) and the reconstruction and repaving looks to be completed.
I got caught up in that when staying at Blue Mesa on the way to Mesa Verde and back.

Was still going on in October, but most of it was done then except a couple of spots.
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Old 05-26-2018, 07:46 PM   #14
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Be careful on stretches of 50 to Cerro summit from the east side. Very rough with severe dips that can dump everything inside your RV. They have tried to fix that stretch for years, but it seems to fail as fast as the fix it. Hopefully they have worked on some of those areas, but was up there a year ago and it was still bad. That being said, that is still your best way to avoid Red Mountain Pass. I do Monarch all the time double hitched. Long uphill and downhill runs but take your time and gear down and you'll be fine. Not nearly as tough as Wolf Creek (which is doable) or Red Mountain, (not in a big rig thanks).
When you stay at Ridgway, the sites below the dam are very nice with hiking, and river fishing very close. You have the sound of the river. Very soothing.
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Old 05-26-2018, 08:15 PM   #15
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Wow, lots of great suggestions. Thanks! Camping by that river certainly sounds inviting. Now to do some planning...
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:14 AM   #16
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Another possibility is to go to Walsenburg and head west on US 160 through Alamosa to Monte Vista. Turn right on US 285 to Saguache, then head west up SH 114 over North Cochetopa Pass to US 50 and Gunnison and Montrose via the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Then left at Montrose to Ridgway. It's an easier pull for an RV and very scenic. Be sure to gas up in Saguache before heading west.
After reviewing the various options suggested these one seems to be the best option for us. Thanks to all that made suggestions!
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Old 06-03-2018, 11:19 PM   #17
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After reviewing the various options suggested these one seems to be the best option for us. Thanks to all that made suggestions!
Just a short note that while SH 114 in Saguache is a nice route to the south of Monarch Pass, there are many stretches of 35mph speed limits with winding curves. It takes more time and attentive driving than it might look on a map. There's also some nice fly fishing on the Gunnison River just west of the town of Gunnison.

Safe Travels.
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:08 AM   #18
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This is what I do on the Blue Mesa just west of Gunnison...
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:29 AM   #19
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Just a short note that while SH 114 in Saguache is a nice route to the south of Monarch Pass, there are many stretches of 35mph speed limits with winding curves. It takes more time and attentive driving than it might look on a map. There's also some nice fly fishing on the Gunnison River just west of the town of Gunnison.

Safe Travels.
Thanks. I'm sure we will enjoy the scenery.
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:45 AM   #20
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Elchilero53 nailed it.

Lived in Montrose, Colorado many years and always used this route to head to Texas for Christmas with parents.
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