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RE: Million Dollar Highway 550 Co

Headed from Gunnison to Durango. Can I take my 25 foot MH over the Million Dollar Highway? A suggestion. Check out Youtube and search "million dollar highway" for some perspective of what it's like. There's a variety of vids to watch, including a motorcycle perspective. Watch a good selection (probably don't need to watch any of the winter ones unless you WANT to ;-) ) There's a lot of opinions about whether one should or can. Being an informed driver is essential. The driver will NOT get a chance to sightsee unless you pull off for views. There are areas with no guardrails and steep and deep drop offs. Winding/twisty road all the way to Red Mountain Pass. Yes, buses and trucks do it all the time. And they are also professional drivers. It's not so much YOU as it is OTHER drivers who may be in over their heads in driving it and constantly cross over into the oncoming lane. Because of the size of your vehicle, it should not be as bad as some other RV type vehicles going up and over. If you do take it, take your time, be safe and pull over for the views when you get a chance. Well worth it.
Thom02099 08/10/20 08:20pm Roads and Routes
RE: Golden to Gunnison Co

Thanks for all the suggestions. We went with Thom’s route and Monarch Pass. Thanks much for the tip of South Park City, the family enjoyed that. Next stop Durango and Hwy 550. Any more suggestions? Yup! Durango & Silverton Railroad is a must see. Multiple ways of doing it. I've always done the train up and back, but one can also take a bus back from Silverton if you don't want to re-trace your steps. I find much to see in both directions. Also, Mesa Verde National Park , not too far from Durango and good for several days. One's deceptively large so plan on several days to see what needs to be seen.
Thom02099 08/10/20 08:06pm Roads and Routes
RE: Golden to Gunnison Co

Looking for a recommendation for the best route from Golden to Gunnison. We are 25 feet not towing anything. Also, any must stops on the way? Is their a length restriction for the south rim road at Black Canyon of Gunnison Do you want scenic, or "get there"? If you want scenic, here's a suggestion. From Golden take CO 470 southbound from I-70 to US 285 south. 285 will take you through the foothills suburbs and once you get to Pine Junction/Bailey area becomes more scenic. From Bailey you're in a valley and climb to Kenosha Pass at about 10000 feet, then drop down into South Park. Great photo up at the summit of Kenosha, there's a parking area to get some shots of the vast valley below. US 285 continues across South Park and through Fairplay. There's South Park City in Fairplay COVID Info on SPC which is a great recreation of the old west in Colorado, and is, to me, worth a stop an a few hours. US 285 continues on to Antero Junction where US 24 meets up. Continue on US 285/24 to Johnson Village. From there you can explore Buena Vista, and if you want a place to stop, there's multiple good camogrounds/RV parks in that area including the KOA at Johnson Village.That's actually a good place to set up a base and explore that region if you've got the time. Rent a Jeep and take some side trips up and over Cottonwood Pass and explore the Taylor Park area. From Johnson Village go south on US 285 to US 50. You can explore Salida near by that junction. Then take US 50 west to Gunnison, which takes you up and over Monarch Pass. At the top of that pass is an aerial tram that takes you to a summit on the south side of the pass with amazing vistas of the mountains to the south. At 25 feet, shouldn't have any problems with any of the suggestions and finding parking. Not aware of any length restrictions at Black Canyon, but you can check their site at Black Canyon of the Gunnison for more info.
Thom02099 08/09/20 08:44am Roads and Routes
RE: Rocky Mountain National Park to Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Just be aware that I25 from Castle Rock to Monument is still in major reconstruction. Narrow lanes and lots of lane movement. But is there any reasonable alternative when towing a 34' fifth-wheel? I can't seem to find one on the map. There is one other alternative, one that I used when I needed to be on the east side of the Springs at an RV park off US 24. Take I-25 south to E Arapahoe Rd. Head east to S Parker Rd/CO 83. Head south on CO 83 through Parker and Franktown and on in to Colorado Springs. Once there, several routes over to I-25. Yes, there's going to be traffic on E Arapahoe Rd as well as S Parker Rd through Parker. I didn't experience any major problems and I went through during the 3-4pm time frame. Nice drive once past Franktown and on in to the east side of C Springs. Trade off, I suppose, dealing with traffic vs construction zone traffic.
Thom02099 08/03/20 08:38pm Roads and Routes
RE: Rocky Mountain National Park to Cheyenne Mountain State Park

We will be leaving mid-day on a week day to move from Glacier Basin Campground in RMNP to Cheyenne Mountain SP. I am familiar with the Peak to Peak Highway down to I-70 and to Loveland to pick up I-25 S. I am less familiar with US 36 through Boulder. I am just wondering if someone with more local experience might give me some suggestions about the best route. Maybe I am just lucky, but I have never had any difficulty driving right through Denver on I-25. I am not so sure about Boulder. Thanks for any comments or suggestions. As you're coming in to Boulder on US 36 from Lyons, it becomes 28th St, a major north/south route. Which is to say a lot of traffic and traffic lights (at least the times recently that I've been through). Two suggestions. At the intersection for Iris Ave/Diagonal Highway, make a LEFT onto the Diagonal/CO 119 and go just a bit east to get on Foothills Parkway/CO 157 southbound, a RIGHT exit. Though there are traffic lights on Foothills, there are far fewer than you'll have staying on 28th St through Boulder. On the south end, you'll join up with US 36/Boulder-Denver Turnpike. 2 lanes that exit LEFT (don't want to stay RIGHT to Table Mesa Dr -- made that mistake). This bypasses most of the stop/go traffic through Boulder. Second suggestion. Bypass Boulder altogether. Coming down US 36 from Estes Park to Lyons, instead of turning right and taking US 36 south to Boulder, stay on CO 66 (straight) to Longmont (north side of town). Take it past US 287 intersection and continue on east to join up with I-25. This puts you on the 3 lane section of I-25 all the way down to the Denver area. Safe travels!
Thom02099 08/02/20 08:43pm Roads and Routes
RE: Trailer length - does that influence spot availability?

How many are in your family, and what ages for any kiddos? Any fur friends going along? That can make a difference in the floor plan that you're considering and will impact the trailer size. For example, if you're going to need sleeping for 3 kiddos, you'll probably be looking at a trailer offering 3-4 bunk beds. Where they are located in the trailer can make a difference as to length. Are the bunks lengthwise or crosswise? Previously I had a Keystone Outback 25RSS that had bunks in front crosswise, and 2 slide outs. Would accommodate 4-6 on board. That, to me was close to ideal for length and floor plan. Never had any problems with any site limitations, either commercial park or NP/USFS CG. Box of the trailer was a bit over 22 ft, total length was about 26 ft. Rear slide was another 5 ft but could overhang the rear limits of most sites. Find a floor plan and length that fits your needs now and in to the future, unless you specifically know you're likely to buy something different in a few years (ie, kiddos getting older and not likely to be going along a few years down the road). Something to consider -- RENT a trailer for a few trips out, to see what would work for your family and the size you're interested in. Try out that 30-35 ft trailer in one of your favourite spots, see how it works for you. May find that you could go with a shorter length with the same basic floor plan, or that 30 ft is doable for you.
Thom02099 08/02/20 09:10am Travel Trailers
RE: How Often Do you Get Skunked on FCFS Camp Spots?

Also doing the 9-5 situation with weekends off, so reservations are necessary most of the time. Most USFS campgrounds in this area need reservations, and there are few FC/FS sites in those CGs. There are some FC/FS campgrounds in this area of northern Colorado, all sites are non-reservable. Going to try my hand at boondocking in the Snowy Range of Wyoming in August, with a fall back of using one of the USFS CGs up there (that are all FC/FS CGs).
Thom02099 07/29/20 06:46am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Leadville to Estes Park CO

Heading to Estes Park from Leadville CO. Don't want to go through Golden and Boulder. Looking at Central City Parkway to Blackhawk hitting 119 to Estes Park. Anyone know if it's doable with 40' fifth wheel. Grades are no problem Yes. It's doable and recommended. CO 119 goes in to Nederland where you'll pick up CO 72 and take that north to CO 7, which takes you to Allenspark and on to Estes Park. On the 119 section, there's some switchbacks along the way, and other curves. some ups/downs as well, but it's not a bad drive. Good roadway, it's a typical mountain drive. In Nederland, the downtown streets are a bit narrow, but negotiable. There's a roundabout to get to CO 72. Again as with 119, 72 is typical mountain driving, there's a climb out of Nederland but not overly difficult. RV'ers do it all the time, it's a great drive with some nice viewing areas along the way (one is the fantastic view of Longs Peak from a close up perspective). CO 72 intersection with CO 7 takes you on the final leg into Estes. There's a goodly hill up to Allenspark, but it's not overly long, and again just typical mountain driving which is to say curves. The roadway is fine with pull offs if needed. As you approach Estes Park and enter Larimer County the roadway does narrow some, but the good news is it's been resurfaced. There's a long downhill to get into Estes Park, just gear down as you approach Lily Lake (trailhead signs there). Depending on where you're going in Estes Park, you can take Mary's Lake Road to US 36/Moraine Ave, which takes you in to RMNP and several CG (Estes Park at Mary's Lake, Elk Meadow, Spruce Lake) in that area. Or stay on CO 7 which takes you to the junction with US 36/34 and other campgrounds on that side of town (KOA) as well as the Fall River Road entrance to Rocky. The entire route is a beautiful drive. There's no shelf road, no steep dropoffs without guardrails, none of that. Well maintained state highways, with shoulders and in some places bike lanes. Something to be aware of, it's a popular route for bicyclists and motorcycles, so just a heads up that you may come up on both, or be passed by MCs.
Thom02099 07/28/20 06:42am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Lefthand Canyon Dr., Colorado?

We tow a 32’ fifth wheel camper. Has anyone gone from I-25 (Longmont, CO) to Ward, CO (Brainard Lake Recreation Area/Pawnee Campground)? We would be coming south from Custer, SD. On Google maps it shows to go from Longmont onto what it shows to be Hwy 36 (?), but it is really Lefthand Canyon Road and goes straight to Ward. There’s no number shown for Lefthand Canyon Rd. Otherwise you can go on into Boulder and take Hwy 119 to Nederland, CO and go north to Ward. We are totally unfamiliar with these routes and don’t want to get into some awful road or something. We are coming south from Custer, SD. Thanks Lefthand Canyon Rd is certainly doable. But it's not US 36. It's a well marked turn off from US 36 to Lefthand Canyon Dr. You'll get there by taking the CO 66 exit off I-25 heading west to Lyons. (See also further below) On the outskirts of Lyons, US 36 intersects and takes you to Boulder. Lefthand Canyon is not too far south of that intersection. It's paved all the way to Ward and is a typical canyon drive, which is to say a lot of curves. Be aware that, outside of Ward, it becomes Indian Gulch Rd and goes on in to Ward. The road through Ward is somewhat steep and is not well maintained. Road maintenance is not a priority there. and as you're leaving town, there's a tight hairpin curve before it straigtens out to intersect with CO 72. Make a right at the stop sign onto CO 72 and then nearly immediately make a left onto Brainard Lake Rd. Brainard Lake Rd was completely rebuilt a couple seasons back and is now a good roadway, but there are also multiple hairpin curves to be aware of. There's an entrance station a couple miles prior to the campground so be prepared to pay the entrance fee, unless you have one of the "Geezer" passes, which gets you in free. Pawnee Campground is a couple miles on the right and there's 2 loops there. You're likely to see moose while up there. There's a better way (IMHO) to get there from I-25. Take the exit for CO 66 and take that in to Lyons. In Lyons make a left onto CO 7 and take that up to CO 72. Be aware that you're in a canyon on CO7 as well, so curves and steep sections (12% not uncommon). CO 72 intersection is before you get to Allenspark and is a good road (also known as the Peak to Peak highway) from that intersection to the cutoff for Brainard Lake. Again though, be aware of some steep sections, particularly as you approach Raymond and Peaceful Valley. Watch for the Millsite Inn (restaurant) as you're approaching Ward, the turn off to Brainard sneaks up on you. Also be aware that this drive is very popular with Motorcycles, so heads up on them coming up fast behind you and passing you. Pawnee Campground/Brainard Lake is one of the most beautiful places to stay in CO. Indian Peaks Wilderness all around you with some great hikes. Hopefully that's a reason you're going there. Have my own reservations up there coming up in September before they close for the season.
Thom02099 07/26/20 07:56pm Roads and Routes
RE: Did you notice..........

.... How busy the campgrounds are? PACKED! And are there any new campgrounds in the pipeline to alleviate the issue? Perhaps depends where you are, and what major attracton(s). I've been trying to go to my favourite CG inside Rocky Mountain National Park. Multiple reservations made over the course of the booking windows, and so far 3 of them have been cancelled with a refund, and an active notice that one coming up at the end of July into August may be cancelled as well. So they are far from busy. They haven't really opened for the season, and all of the notices received were due to safety notices due to Covid-19. As an alternative, stayed in a private RV park in Estes Park. Made a reservation thinking they would be packed. They weren't. There were a goodly number of sites available when I arrived there, and through that weekend. Conversely, had a reservation at one of the more remote campgrounds within the Colorado State Forest SP, and it was full. Not just the campground I was in, but the 2 other ones that were nearby within the SP system. Reservations at another SP campground coming up soon, will be interesting to see if it's full or not.
Thom02099 07/19/20 08:25am Public Lands, Boondocking and Dry Camping
RE: Colorado and Wyoming need rec places to stay

We will be traveling to and staying in or near the following cities during the Month of July Pueblo, CO Cheyenne, WY Caspar, WY Sheridan, WY Denver, CO We are looking for places to stay in our 5th Wheel-2 seniors Could be state parks, campgrounds, Corp of Engineer parks etc Any suggestions of places you've stayed that you really liked? We prefer shade this time of year. Thank you in advance! Colorado State Parks are reservation only, there no longer is any first come/first served. You might be able to find an opening at Cherry Creek State Park on the SE side of the Denver Metro area. Otherwise, in July, most everything is likely to be booked up, even for during the week. Possibly some openings at commercial RV parks, but they will likely also be hard to find for the Denver area. In Cheyenne, shade will be at a premium. The good news is there's probably been lots of reservation cancellations since Cheyenne Frontier Days has been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus. Two of the better places in Cheyenne is the KOA on the east side of the city off I-80, or the Terry Bison Ranch RV Park just inside Wyoming on I-25 at the first exit.
Thom02099 07/07/20 06:33am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Florida to Wyoming travel concerns

For the OP, if your travel plans include National Parks and their campgrounds, you may want to check with the park(s) to see if there is an up-to-date closure notice. I bring this up because at Rocky Mountain National Park, the Glacier Basin CG has been closed for nearly the entire season. I received an email notice that it was going to be closed from July 1-31 as well as from August 1-September 14. That is the entire remainder of the season for that campground. While there are other campgrounds in that park, I'm also aware of limitations at other National Parks in the west. So if your plan involves one, check the most current info for that park.
Thom02099 07/05/20 03:58pm Roads and Routes
RE: New Mexico 'Quarantine" Requirements

Considering spending some time in Colorado. Does anyone know of a good website to keep updated on travel restrictions in the state. This is official Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment This is the official STATE website (notice there is a slight difference in the URLs)
Thom02099 07/05/20 03:48pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Which route would be less higher grade

I was thinking of taking I 80 over Colorado but was thinking of maybe trying I 70 but heard that Hwy 50 might also be good, so my question is how is 50 over 70? Is 50 flatter over all and are there any large ups or downs? The downs get to me as I have had some scary moments in the past even though I was doing what is right I just don't feel comfortable on a steep or long down hill. I have done the grape vine a few times and that is not bad. Toyota Trundra 5.7 and a 22ft HiLo trailer about 5000 lbs fully loaded. Would love to hear from those that know the routes. Point of note -- I-80 goes across Wyoming. I-70 for Colorado. You don't mention direction of travel. I-80 across Wyoming has it's highest point just east of Laramie at ~9600 feet, and then down hill eastbound to Cheyenne. If going westbound, about 5 miles of descent down to Laramie. Lots of rolling terrain from Laramie to points west. Depending on your direction of travel, you'll have generally head winds headed westbound, or tail winds headed eastbound. Your rig combo should compensate some for the winds as you have a lower profile than most travel trailers.
Thom02099 06/24/20 06:40am Roads and Routes
RE: Ouray, CO to Fort Collins, CO

Planning a trip from Ouray, CO to Fort Collins, CO. Pulling a 36' travel trailer with my F-350. Google maps suggests Montrose hwy 50 over Monarch Pass to hwy 285 to Denver. Alternate route is hwy 50 over Monarch pass to Colorado Springs, CO then north on 25. Which route is best pulling a trailer? Is the 285 route a good option as I am leaning that way. Another option is to take hwy 70 thru the tunnel but I have pulled up that one before. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance. If you are leaning the US285 route, go with that. It is not a bad route, it's scenic and not a difficult drive. Some things to be aware of: There's lots of ups and downs on this route. Not passes per se, but a lot of hills and valleys. This is especially the case as you get closer to the Denver Metro area and the Conifer to Aspen Park area. Monarch Pass has been mentioned. Coming out of Johnson Village, there's a pretty good climb up to South Park, and then the drive across South Park (which is ~9600feet average elevation) to Kenosha Pass. An easy pass by CO standards, and a lot of down hill once up and over, until you get to Bailey. Outside of Bailey, there's a rather goodly hill climb up to Pine Junction, but there's a climb lane for it. Once to Pine Junction, you'll be on the outer outskirts of the Denver Metro area. A couple of miles of 2 lane/3 lane roadway and then you'll have 4 lane all the way in to CO-470. There's 4 lane through Conifer and Aspen Park and a rather long descent through Turkey Creek Canyon to get to CO-470. Watch your speeds especially going through Turkey Creek, Morrison Police patrol that area that's in their jurisdiction very regularly and are aggressive in enforcement. Take CO-470 toward Golden and join up with I-70 to I-76. For I-76 you'll want to be in the LEFT 2 lanes as it's a left exit, and then there's a split exit to the right for Fort Collins north and Denver south. That exit can be very congested as it feeds on to I-25, as you also have traffic coming on to I-25 from I-270 in the same area. Once on I-25 you'll have 3 lanes northbound to the Longmont exit for CO 66 where it drops down to 2 lanes and gets congested, regardless of the time of day. Also be aware of major construction around Loveland and Windsor with lane shifts, before you get to the Fort Collins exits.
Thom02099 06/24/20 06:24am Roads and Routes
RE: Hey 160 from Cortez CO to Hwy 89 Flagstaff?

Did the bulk of that route enroute to the Grand Canyon 2 years ago. Fuel at the locations noted above. The road is fine with a caveat; in many places (like most of the route) there's barely any sort of shoulder on the roadway, should you need to pull off for whatever reason. And Verizon cell service was practically non-existent with the exception of near any of the areas of any population along the route.
Thom02099 06/21/20 09:42pm Roads and Routes
RE: Small rear slide travel trailer

Tow vehicle would be a Nissan Frontier Pro-X. Towing capacity is 6400lbs. Payload capacity is 1170lbs. So it needs the be light enough for this vehicle. As for storage space I really want to be able to get it in my yard. That’s the motivation for a rear slide. It shrinks the footprint when stored but gives a lot more room when camping. I have about 22 feet to play with total length. The Outback is a little too long. Without the forward bunks it would probably be perfect. And I would prefer hard walled for durability and camping in bear country. There's a smaller Outback model that might work for you...the 21RS for older models or 21OURS for newer models. No side slide and still has the bunks in the front. Hard sided rear slide.
Thom02099 06/20/20 11:17am Travel Trailers
RE: Small rear slide travel trailer

Hi folks, I am overwhelmed with the number of travel trailer floor plans on Google so I thought I’d consult the experts ??. I am looking for a travel trailer with a hard walled rear slide out. It needs to be small to fit my needs in terms of towing and storage capacities. So, my question- What is the smallest travel trailer with a hard walled rear slide out that you are aware of? Thanks in advance, Hip There are certainly an abundance of floor plans out there but not near as many with a rear slide. How small is "small to fit my needs of towing and storage capacities"? What's your tow vehicle? What are your storage capacity limits? Are you looking for new or used? I had a 2007 Keystone Outback 25RSS which I loved. Rear slide as well as a side slide, opened it up to feel much bigger than it was. Some pointers, however, about rear slides. Mine had 2 braces that had to be put in place before manually sliding out the rear slide. No big deal really, it upped the weight capacity of the rear slide (600 lbs). The drawback? The head/foot of the bed were parallel with the rear wall, meaning sleeping sideways. Fine if you sleep alone, not so much if you sleep with someone who may have to get up in the middle of the night. And the bed was a BEAR to make. If Outbacks interest you, look for a newer model that has an electric rear slide as well as the headboard of the bed being under the rear window, so you're sleeping with your feet pointing inward to the interior of the trailer. Makes those night time bathroom trips much easier, and the bed is easier tp make. Another feature of the Outback line (and as I recall, Coleman also has/had some trailers with the same rear slide out), is a forward double bunk, along the front of the trailer side to side. Great for a couple of kiddos and super storage for those times when no kiddos along. The so-called dry weight of my trailer was ~5100lbs. With everything on board, including firewood, and fluids, mine topped out in the 5900-6100lbs range (certified scale weight of trailer alone). Certainly not a heavyweight, doable for towing with a variety of vehicles, including a 2003 Chevy Tahoe LT with all the trailering options, and rear seats removed. Depending on your needs, something like this could certainly do it for you.
Thom02099 06/20/20 09:21am Travel Trailers
RE: Trail Ridge Road Opens...and more

RMNP has opened Trail Ridge Road for the season as of 06.04.20. About 2 weeks later than normal, but not due to excess snow. Rocky is now open to visitors, with some caveats. H E R E - RMNP entry is information on the reservation system they have put in place to enter the park. One must now have a reservation to enter or have a camping permit. The number of visitors allowed in the park, for now, is capped at 13000. The Alpine Store and Vistors Center is not open, and is not expected to open until some time in July. Thanks Thom, as always, for the information. I almost wish they'd keep the reservation system. I'd enjoy going there with less people, even if it meant planning a trip in advance. AMEN to that! I already had 2 camping reservations cancelled, but have more scheduled for later in the season. Now if I can just figure out what they are going to do to the 50% limit on capacity. Hope they don't do an odd/even type thing for open/closed.
Thom02099 06/05/20 04:27pm Roads and Routes
Trail Ridge Road Opens...and more

RMNP has opened Trail Ridge Road for the season as of 06.04.20. About 2 weeks later than normal, but not due to excess snow. Rocky is now open to visitors, with some caveats. H E R E - RMNP entry is information on the reservation system they have put in place to enter the park. One must now have a reservation to enter or have a camping permit. The number of visitors allowed in the park, for now, is capped at 13000. The Alpine Store and Vistors Center is not open, and is not expected to open until some time in July.
Thom02099 06/04/20 07:13am Roads and Routes
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