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Old 02-21-2016, 02:55 PM   #1
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US 50, US550 Colorado

Planning a June trip to Bryce Canyon from Ohio. I would like to travel to Cortez, CO and then Monument Valley on my way. Then returning with a stay in Green River, UT and back across I-70 to home. I have a 37'6" Surveyor TT with a dry weight of 7995lbs and am pulling with a 2002 7.3l diesel F350 2 wheel drive dually. I won't be close to the max hauling capability of my truck, but have some concerns about the grades on the Colorado highways. I crossed I-80 and I-90 last summer and had no issues. Also did some pulling in the Black Hills and no issues there either. There was a decent pull out of Billings, MT going east, but nothing major. I am just looking for advice and opinions on this drive. Thanks in advance!!
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:13 PM   #2
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Monarch Pass on up out of Salida Co will make that pull on I-90 out of Billings Mt look like a molehill. Tops out at a little over 11,000 feet and then down the other side. On Hwy 550 between Ouray and Silverton is the notorious Million Dollar Highway also. Miles of pretty snakey road.
Wolf creek pass on Hwy 160 is pretty good now days. Still any way you look at it going over the Colorado Rockies is pretty steep about any way you go.
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:59 PM   #3
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Assuming the truck and trailer are in good mechanical order, you should be fine with either 160 or 50/550. There is only about 500 feet of difference in maximum elevation between the highest points on each of those routes. If it were me, I would look at what is along each path. Are you planning on stopping for sights and overnight stays or just driving through? Also, think about how much time you want to be driving?
Either way be totally focused on either road.

As Blackrock stated, 50/550 is definitely a more snakey route. But, it likely also has a lot more sights IMO on the way west and down to Cortez. Things along the way, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Royal Gorge and pretty much the entire Million Dollar Highway

The primary things along 160 Great Sand Dunes, Zapata Falls, Chimney Falls, Valecito reservoir.

Both have million dollar views along with climbs and descents. You will end up in Durango and then on to Cortez and don't miss Mesa Verde NP. And if you have never been there, be prepared to be underwhelmed at 4 Corners. It's fun, but defines tourist trap.
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Old 02-21-2016, 04:19 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick responses. I am planning on staying at KOA either at Canon City or Cotopaxi and then driving to KOA at Cortez. My wife was so-so on the Royal Gorge .I was planning on stopping at Monarch Pass, Black Canyon, Telluride and Durango. Just short stops at each. I did live in Gunnison for a short time as a teenager, however that was many years ago and was mainly wanting my family to see the area. I wouldn't want the kids to be carsick or anything and had considered US 285 and US 160 as alternates. Thanks on the heads up on Four Corners. I will use it as a photo op. I am going to plan on 2 nights at Goulding's in Monument Valley. I love the old western movies and have always wanted to see it.
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Old 02-21-2016, 07:17 PM   #5
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Hope you have time for the Durango to Silverton locomotive trip. It's a narrow gauge and hugs the mountain on one side with the Animas river several hundred feet below on the other. it's just a one day trip there and back and typically a fun trip for the kids (and adults). If you go, remember to wash the black soot (from the locomotive stack) from the nostrils when you get back to Durango. Lots of video and still photo opportunities.
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Old 02-23-2016, 10:31 AM   #6
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We live in Denver. Have property in Pagosa Springs and have driven all the roads you speak of, many times. We have a class A and regularly pull a Jeep so we know weight!

In my opinion, all of the major roads in Colorado are fine to drive/pull our toys as long as you know how to DRIVE your toys!

I typically stay off of 285 between Denver and Salida these days. Lots of up and downs and twists and turns on 2 lane roads. Weekends have gotten very busy and you should expect slow travel around any holiday weekends.

When going to southern CO, we take I25 down to Walsenburg, then West on 160. You only have 2 passes to go over. La Veta is an easy one. Tops out around 9000 feet but is a steady easy climb up and down both sides. Wolf Creek, on the other side of the valley is a nasty pass! BUT again, if you know how to drive your toy, you'll be fine. You just have keep it geared low on both sides and you'll be fine. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon!

Once you're down Wolf Creek Pass, it levels off and is an easy drive to Durango. From there, getting to Telluride is a bit tricky over the million dollar highway but again, take it slow. Lots of people drive these passes everyday with a lot more weight than you're pulling and they are ok.

Most people that live in Colorado understand slow traffic with big rigs and will accommodate you. It's the tourists from po-dunk that will give you the finger and the horn while passing you on a double line in a curve. I just give them the 'ol cowboy salute as they go by and wish 'em luck in their ever-frantic lives, while I sit back and enjoy the scenery!

Good luck and stop in the Hot Springs in Pagosa. Good times!
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Old 02-23-2016, 03:34 PM   #7
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Another route that we have enjoyed is 50 to Ridgeway, Co 62 on to Telluride and then take 145 (Lizzard Head Pass) south to Cortez. This road has some climb and some wind but is a pretty nice drive.
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