AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Colorado advice  (Read 4870 times)

texaskdog

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2143
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Last Login: September 18, 2017, 07:55:33 PM
Colorado advice
« on: June 24, 2016, 07:23:09 PM »

We're heading from Austin, TX to Santa Fe, NM, through Montrose, CO and to Denver/Boulder/RMNP area next month.  We're doing the million dollar highway again, might skip glenwood canyon to hit some good mountain passes and stuff on the way to Boulder.  Anyone suggest some good mountain roads you can take with the average car from Santa Fe to Durango or Montrose to Boulder?  What are good routes? 

We did Mount Evans (loved it but skipping this time) and may consider Loveland Pass.

Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 26, 2016, 12:28:42 AM by andy3175 »
Logged

oscar

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 3971
  • Age: 61
  • Location: Arlington, VA
  • Last Login: Today at 03:30:16 AM
    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2016, 07:40:36 PM »

What about Independence Pass, on CO 82 between US 24 and Aspen (and also Glenwood Springs)? Paved, and when I drove it in 1986 on my first cross-country road trip as an adult, it was good for low-clearance cars. If you leave Montrose via Grand Junction, CO 82 would take you around Glenwood Canyon.

Berthoud Pass on US 40 is on the way to the west entrance to RMNP and its Trail Ridge Rd., and you can do that after Loveland Pass (worth the detour from the Interstate, but check ahead to make sure there's no last-minute closure). If you do Berthoud Pass, allow time to look at the west portal for the long Moffat rail tunnel under the Continental Divide.
Logged
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:
http://www.alaskaroads.com/home.html

kphoger

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5859
  • Location: Wichita, KS
  • Last Login: May 23, 2017, 08:34:22 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2016, 09:02:35 PM »

Ophir Road, from US-550 to CO-145 should be manageable in a standard passenger car.  I've drove this forest road in a rented Jeep back in 2002 or so, but I never even considered switching to 4WD.  I'm planning to use the route again next summer as part of a family road trip; we currently have a Pathfinder but, as I said, most passenger cars should be able to handle it.  If your car has lower-than-average ground clearance, though, then maybe not.

Doing that as a direct deviation from Silverton, however, would mean missing out on the best part of the Million Dollar Highway, because you'd head west before reaching Red Mountain Pass and not rejoin US-550 till Ridgway (do NOT attempt Tomboy Road from Telluride to Ouray in anything except a real 4WD vehicle).  This means the best route to experience it would involve a 64-mile deviation from Durango to Cortez.  But you're rewarded with views like this:


As for Montrose to Boulder, I've driven CO-133 to Glenwood Springs back in the 90s and remember it being a great highway.  But, honestly, you should really do Glenwood Canyon.
Logged
Keep right except to pass.  Yes.  You.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2016, 11:01:52 PM »

Trail Ridge (US 34) especially if you come over the back way from Granby to Estes Park.  Ironic you post this today when I just went over US 550 this morning.  You should be aware there is a nasty spot with construction right now near Red Mountain Pass that will hold you up at minimum 20 minutes.  I would avoid Ridgeway like the plague when you are coming down from Ouray as well, for some reason they think local road construction merits six patrol vehicles on a Friday.  You might want to make a detour to some of the following places I hit up on this trip:

-  Great Sand Dunes National Park north of Alamosa.  That certainly put you on a line for 11,000 foot Wolf Creek Pass since you would be heading to Durango.
-  Black Canyon is worth a visit since you'll be in Montrose.  It's only a 20 minute drive outside the city and not a large park to explore.
-  Colorado National Monument and Rim Rock Drive...Monument Canyon has some kick ass views of Fruita and Grand Junction.
-  Maybe Loveland Pass on US 6 if you want the highest all-year mountain pass in the country and don't mind bypassing the Loveland Tunnel on I-70?
-  I'll fill you in on Leadville tomorrow, I've never been but I'm hoping for good things...but then again I'm a mining buff.

texaskdog

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2143
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Last Login: September 18, 2017, 07:55:33 PM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2016, 11:16:23 PM »

Thanks, I will look at all of these options (and as much as I'd like to do Ophir, Mount Evans was too much for my wife)
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2016, 11:22:38 PM »

Thanks, I will look at all of these options (and as much as I'd like to do Ophir, Mount Evans was too much for my wife)

The good news on 550 is you'll be heading north and be on the canyon wall coming down to Ouray from Red Mountain Pass.  The southbound lanes aren't for the faint of heart with the huge drop-offs into the gorge.  Trail Ridge can be intimidating also but the slope on the horizon is way more gradual.

dfwmapper

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 624
  • Location: DFW
  • Last Login: June 18, 2017, 12:20:34 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2016, 11:50:41 PM »

Santa Fe to Montrose: I-25 north to NM 518 north to US 64 west to US 550 north. Or, if you're open to skipping Durango and US 550, I-25 north to NM 518 north to US 64 west to US 84 west to US 160 east to C-149 north to US 50 west.

Montrose to Boulder: US 50 north to Delta, C-92 east to C-65 north to C-330 east, follow the county and forest service roads northeast to I-70 east of Rifle, I-70 east to Dillon, US 6 east over Loveland Pass, I-70 east, US 40 west over Berthoud Pass, US 34 east to US 36 east to C-7 south to C-72 south to C-119 east. Everything except part of the county/FS roads is paved, and the unpaved parts look to be fully passable in a standard car.
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2016, 07:08:59 AM »

Santa Fe to Montrose: I-25 north to NM 518 north to US 64 west to US 550 north. Or, if you're open to skipping Durango and US 550, I-25 north to NM 518 north to US 64 west to US 84 west to US 160 east to C-149 north to US 50 west.

Montrose to Boulder: US 50 north to Delta, C-92 east to C-65 north to C-330 east, follow the county and forest service roads northeast to I-70 east of Rifle, I-70 east to Dillon, US 6 east over Loveland Pass, I-70 east, US 40 west over Berthoud Pass, US 34 east to US 36 east to C-7 south to C-72 south to C-119 east. Everything except part of the county/FS roads is paved, and the unpaved parts look to be fully passable in a standard car.

149 isn't a bad option if you want something off the grid since most of the tourism traffic hits US 550.  Really about the only things you got on 149 between US 160/US 50 is Creede a small mining town and Lake City which was a supply town for the mines.  They sure aren't Silverton and Ouray though....Slumgullion Pass is about 11,500 feet though.

aboges26

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 111
  • Don't mess with Texas, it's fine as it is.

  • Age: 26
  • Location: Lubbock, TX
  • Last Login: September 24, 2017, 09:23:44 PM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2016, 05:07:57 PM »

Out of Santa Fe I sure am partial to taking US 285/84 north to where US 84 branches off to go through Abiquiu and Chama country.  Follow US 84 all the way to Pagosa Springs to hit US 160 to go west to Durango.  Sure is better scenery than US 550 if you do not appreciate the high desert landscape before Farmington :spin:
Logged
Have a blessed day.

kphoger

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5859
  • Location: Wichita, KS
  • Last Login: May 23, 2017, 08:34:22 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2016, 12:09:59 AM »

I'm a mining buff.

I read this as "I'll be mining buff." Which doesn't seem like a very safe idea.
Logged
Keep right except to pass.  Yes.  You.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2016, 12:32:23 AM »

I'm a mining buff.

I read this as "I'll be mining buff." Which doesn't seem like a very safe idea.

Well heading into a mine shaft would be dangerous much less going where a crap ton of cave-ins or open pits might be.  For the most part I'm more into the junk and scrap that gets left behind and usually mining towns whether they still have people or not have a ton to offer in that regard.  There was so much scrap metal, buildings, materials, cars and other stuff laying around between Ouray and Red Mountain Pass just as an example.  I actually was able to find three of the six towns that were claimed to exist between Ouray and Silverton...wasn't hard either with them being on the side of the road.  Usually I'm used to having to drive to a certain point, get out of the car and follow a topographical map or vague directions to a site.  I'm winding down to the last day of a 3,700 mile loop road trip which has included the following mining related places:

Empire, CO
Lead, SD
Central City, SD
Deadwood, SD
Custer, SD
Terraville and the Homestead Mine, SD
Red Lodge, MT
Ouray, CO
Hartville, WY
Ironton, CO
Albany, CO
Chattanooga, CO
Silverton, CO
Leadville, CO

There are a couple that I'll be checking out tomorrow which include Silver Plume, Georgetown and Idaho Springs heading down I-70 to Denver.  Last year I had the chance to really check out Wallace and Kellogg out in Idaho...in addition to all the surrounding places that were accessible.  Hell I did that weekend run up to Bodie before I left for this trip and even threw in a rail town in for good measure with Laws. 

Incidentally, Leadville is completely worth checking out on the way to Trail Ridge.  You even get the 11,300 foot high Fremont Pass on CO 91 which passes right by the Climax Mine which just reopened a couple years back.  Hopefully I'll figure something out on how to share photos from this trip that I'll attach to my road trip page.

texaskdog

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2143
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Last Login: September 18, 2017, 07:55:33 PM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2016, 02:00:48 PM »

We'd also like to take a train ride and have done Durango/Silverton already.  Wondering where the next best train ride is.
Logged

texaskdog

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2143
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Last Login: September 18, 2017, 07:55:33 PM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2016, 02:01:19 PM »

Out of Santa Fe I sure am partial to taking US 285/84 north to where US 84 branches off to go through Abiquiu and Chama country.  Follow US 84 all the way to Pagosa Springs to hit US 160 to go west to Durango.  Sure is better scenery than US 550 if you do not appreciate the high desert landscape before Farmington :spin:

For sure and SO MANY cops on 550, never seen so many even in a city.
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2016, 03:12:45 PM »

We'd also like to take a train ride and have done Durango/Silverton already.  Wondering where the next best train ride is.

That was weird the message I posted went blank. I noticed a loop train between Silver Plume and Georgetown that looked like it was worth investigating.  You would exit off in Silver Plume it appears.  I'd recommend Pikes Peak but it's out of your way and you said your wife doesn't like heights.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 12:54:45 PM by Max Rockatansky »
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2016, 06:38:42 PM »

Just added photos from my Road Trip that went through most of the Rockies, might prove useful to you:

http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=17644.0

coatimundi

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 788
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Marina, CA
  • Last Login: May 12, 2017, 12:42:29 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2016, 12:32:21 AM »

As for Montrose to Boulder, I've driven CO-133 to Glenwood Springs back in the 90s and remember it being a great highway.  But, honestly, you should really do Glenwood Canyon.
133 is awesome. Possibly my favorite highway in the state, and it's a hell of a lot more interesting than US 50 between GJ and Montrose, though I've never been up to Grand Mesa and can't compare that route.
A small side trip on that road is Marble, where they still have an active quarry to pull out this beautiful, white marble. You can read more about where the marble was used on its Wikipedia entry, but they have blocks of it just chilling out in the middle of the town (which is really just one dirt street), and you can climb to the top of a hill outside of town and catch a glimpse of the quarry.

Loveland Pass is pretty impressive, but it has a lot of traffic, especially the trucks that are banned in the tunnel.
Logged

kphoger

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 5859
  • Location: Wichita, KS
  • Last Login: May 23, 2017, 08:34:22 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2016, 12:27:42 PM »

As for Montrose to Boulder, I've driven CO-133 to Glenwood Springs back in the 90s and remember it being a great highway.  But, honestly, you should really do Glenwood Canyon.
133 is awesome. Possibly my favorite highway in the state, and it's a hell of a lot more interesting than US 50 between GJ and Montrose, though I've never been up to Grand Mesa and can't compare that route.

When I drove it back in the 90s or whenever, we were behind a local contractor work truck with no working brake lights.  Because he was local, he knew exactly how fast he could take each turn, so we just stayed several car lengths behind him the whole way.
Logged
Keep right except to pass.  Yes.  You.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2016, 12:56:37 PM »

Out of Santa Fe I sure am partial to taking US 285/84 north to where US 84 branches off to go through Abiquiu and Chama country.  Follow US 84 all the way to Pagosa Springs to hit US 160 to go west to Durango.  Sure is better scenery than US 550 if you do not appreciate the high desert landscape before Farmington :spin:

For sure and SO MANY cops on 550, never seen so many even in a city.

There was a ton in and around Ridgeway a couple days ago mostly on the part of town that's on 550.  Looks like they had some pretty major road construction going on, they had a couple bikers pulled over when I went through.

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2016, 02:04:36 PM »

Okay this Georgetown/Silver Plume loop railroad runs a couple steam locomotive...no wonder the place was packed yesterday:

http://georgetownlooprr.com/





Looks like tickets start at $36 dollars for the standard mine loop tour.

sparker

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2335
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
  • Last Login: September 24, 2017, 03:06:01 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2016, 12:49:51 AM »

Beautiful Shay logging locomotive (#9).  Those crank driveshafts are a wonder to watch in operation!  These suckers had so much torque; they'd be good for 30-40 loaded log cars, depending upon the track gradient.  Pounded the shit out of the rails, though -- not much rail weight on often short-lived logging lines, so they'd have to replace track more than once per season.  Still, one of the more successful smaller steam locomotive designs. 
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2016, 07:38:58 AM »

Might also be worth looking into if the One Hundred Mine tour is still in operation if you are going to Silverton for sure:

http://www.go-colorado.com/One-Hundred-Gold-Mine-Tour/

I have my doubts if it's still running given that the home page is down but I seem to recall the remote location made it easy to get in.  Basically the One Hundred Mine is about 5 miles east of Silverton on County Route 2.  The mine buildings located way high up on the peaks probably makes it worth it on it's own but the tour used to take you into the mine on a narrow gauge.

texaskdog

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2143
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Last Login: September 18, 2017, 07:55:33 PM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #21 on: June 30, 2016, 02:38:55 PM »

GT looked like $25 a ticket and wife says we can't afford to do it :(  she wants to spend money on pot LOL!
Logged

sparker

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2335
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
  • Last Login: September 24, 2017, 03:06:01 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2016, 04:01:57 PM »

Still, a helluva lot cheaper than getting into any Disney parks these days!  And at least you're getting some real history, not an impressionistic re-creation!
Logged

texaskdog

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 2143
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Austin, TX
  • Last Login: September 18, 2017, 07:55:33 PM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #23 on: June 30, 2016, 06:53:17 PM »

Don't get me wrong I want to do all the Colorado trains.  She's being cheap.
Logged

Max Rockatansky

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4976
  • Location: Route 9, Sector 26
  • Last Login: Today at 12:16:28 AM
Re: Colorado advice
« Reply #24 on: June 30, 2016, 07:16:14 PM »

Don't get me wrong I want to do all the Colorado trains.  She's being cheap.

Yeah I wouldn't waste your money on that yuppie stuff.  All the things up in the mountains and around the mines are cheap but authentic.  I'd stay away from the ski town crowds and Denver if you can.  Besides a good 12 pack will beat out any of that crap they "sell" in Colorado anyways.

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.