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Mike and Carol

Colorado Advice

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We are planning a month in Colorado (September).  We've spent time in Denver (flew in/out) and drove to Durango once from Arizona.  That's the extent of our Colorado experience.

 

The plan is to drive to Colorado Springs (overnighting in Amarillo) for a few days to do Pikes Peak and the other area attractions.  Then head up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a week or so.  Next we will head down to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to do the canyon, Gunnison area, Crested Butte, etc.  It looks like there is a nice campground in the park that is very close to the canyon.  Next, we'll head down to Mesa Verde National Park to explore the ruins and see the area sites.  Last, we'll head over to Great Sand Dunes National Park for a while before heading south to Santa Fe and then home.

 

We are trying to hit as many National Parks as we can and we can do all four in Colorado plus some national recreation areas.  I think we should be alright weather wise but am a little concerned about driving from Rocky Mountain National Park down to Gunnison.

 

Any thoughts or advice on driving, where to go and what to see would be appreciated!  Mike


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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We were to Rocky Mountain National Park, 2 years ago in mid September, and that's a great time with the Elk in rut. We made some notes on the good camp sites, but don't know where they are. There are some that look out over the valley, but probably hard to get. We did get to see 2 bull elk having a heated discussion, with some violent head butting, over who had first dibs on the cows.

 

Great time to visit Colorado.

 

Stan

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Stan and Carol


Blacksburg, VA


2014 Dodge Durango 5.7 Hemi


2014 Legacy Elite II Standard  Hull 63

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We just did just that. We picked up our Ollie in Hohenwald and brought it home to Arizona via Rocky Mountain NP and the Gunnison area. We must have crossed the Great Divide three times. No problem towing with our 2012 Tundra. Camped at Timber Creek campground in the RM park. Interesting that only small RVs could be allowed in this beautiful area at the headwaters of the Colorado River where elk were wandering through the camp. Highly recommend this play. We boondocked along the Arkansas River north of the town of Buena Vista--a lovely area were kayakers told us it was the primo spot for kayaking in CO. (Look for camping icons along the highway in this area. There is a narrow dirt road winding along the east side of the river north of Buena Vista where you might find some good places to boondock if you are interested. We parked for three nights at the Cedar Creek RV Park in Montrose, where we took side trips to Telluride and Ouray. (We recommend this nice park. If you stay there, mention us as the EarthPicks. We played some music for the managers, who are very cool folks.) We also stayed one night in a nice RV park in Cortez called the Sundance. We wish we had spent more time in CO but were mostly just making our maiden voyage home with our Ollie. One thing I can say is that just about every turn in the road in CO brings new charming if not stunningly gorgeous vistas into view. Have a great trip!

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Sounds like a great trip - the Aspens will be turning then.  On your way from Mesa Verde to the Sand Dunes, you will pass through Pagosa Springs.  You should stop there for lunch at least - there are some interesting things to see.  Also, when you get to South Fork, you might want to take a side trip up to Creede, which is an old mining town that's pretty lively, at least in the summer.   The headwaters of the Rio Grand is just west of Creede, at the Rio Grand Reservoir.  I know there are many National Forest campgrounds there but they may be closed by then.  However, there are lots of RV parks in South Fork because it is a very popular summer destination for part-timers. We spend many weeks every year in Colorado dry camping and riding our Polaris RZR.

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My favorite area by far in CO is the Durango/ Silverton/ Ouray area, including Lake City, but that last town is hard to get to, being on the "wrong" side of the mountain, so to speak.

 

If you like offroading, rent a Wrangler and do the Alpine Loop or one of the many other stunning back country trips in the high country.

 

If you like trains, the Silverton Railroad is unbeatable, but it's a long loooong trip up and then back to Durango. One way would be better if somebody can shuttle you back.

 

Do not attempt the Million Dollar Highway from Silverton to Ouray unless you are _very_ confident in your rig and your driving skills.

 

If you have any interest in classic Brit bikes, you can make a detour north of Mesa Verde to Colorado Norton Works in Delores. Yummm!

 

St Elmo ghost town and nearby Leadville are wonderful if you like old buildings.

 

https://roadtrippers.com/stories/st-elmos-fire-the-tragic-story-of-americas-most-enchanting-ghost-town

 

Have fun! I love the Colorado high country. It is way too busy for my liking in summer, but September should be perfect. Watch the weather reports.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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While it was in my pre trailer days, I have been to CO many times, though in the working world, I was limited to quick visits.

 

Estes Park is beautiful any time of year! Perched on the edge of the RMNP, it is loaded with charm. The Stanley Hotel is there, assuming it remains open. This is reportedly the hotel where Steven King was inspired to write The Shining, while not actually used in filming the movie. It was used in filming the tv version as well as Jim Carrey's Dumb and Dumber movie. Reportedly, Steven King stayed at the hotel as it closed and into the off season (by himself) and experienced a haunting in his room (#217-he drank a lot), thus inspiring his famous novel. A tour of the hotel revealed two haunted rooms, one on the second floor and one on the 4th. During the tour I noticed the second floor room (#217-famous from the movie) was vacant. I went down to the desk and booked a night in it. Can't say whether it was truly haunted or not, but each time that evening that we left the room, we returned to find The Shining playing on a tv we had never turned on.

 

The Elk passed through town twice daily. Once early, once late.  Can't remember which direction each time, but the town was right in their path and they had learned to ignore herds of human gawkers.

 

Leadville, mentioned above, besides having interesting old buildings, is the highest city in the US (and that was before pot became legal there!). Elevation is just over 10K.  You will enjoy CO, where ever you wind up. Obviously, be prepared for changingn climate conditions at the higher altitudes, especially later in Sept. I have some great camera shots of snow storms up there, both fall and spring.

 

Perhaps my favorite town is Frisco. You might remember that I am into cycling, and Frisco is truly a hub to paved bike trails running xx miles (more than I can ride) near but seperate from auto traffic. It is the most scenic riding I ever do, though challanging from an Oxygen standpoint, requiriing frequent breaks by a MS sea level boy. My favorite ride out of Frisco is around Dillion Lake including what is called Swan Mountain. The climbs are difficult but doable. Another is the ride from Frisco to Vail Pass. That ride is a 20 mile (or so) long, slow climb. Again, doable with breaks. The ride down on both of those routes is fantastic!

 

Enjoy your trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mike and Elizabeth Smith


Snow Lake Shores, MS


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Mike and Carol,

 

You've received some excellent advice--especially the recommendations from John Davies. My mother's uncle was a newspaperman in Lake City during the silver mining days and my mother started visiting Lake City with her parents every summer in a Model A. My parents, sisters and I made many trips to Lake City while I was growing up and I return to that part of Colorado at least every three years or so. John's comments about the Million Dollar Highway are accurate--I've driven it with my Touareg/Ollie and the experience is not one that I'll forget! If you rent a jeep to tour the Silverton, Ouray, Lake City backcountry, make sure you have a good map and a GPS device--I got lost last year because of a poor map. My handheld Garmin device that I use for hiking helped me find my way. I've attached some photos from my Jeep adventure on June 23, 2016.

 

I love Mesa Verde, but there are a lot of visitors there. I suggest you go to Mesa Verde to learn--participate in ranger programs, ranger-led visits to the ruins, etc., and then go to Canyon of the Ancients National Monument near Cortez. You'll find great hiking, ruins, and you won't encounter many other visitors.

 

If you have a taste for something different, Google Crestone, Colorado. It's located north of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia: "The Crestone area, which includes the Baca Grande and Moffat, Colorado, is a spiritual center with several world religions represented, including: a Hindu temple, a Zen center, a co-ed Carmelite monastery, several Tibetan Buddhist centers, and miscellaneous New Age happenings.

 

Crestone is easily accessible to visitors, a National Forest Service campground is about 3/4 of a mile north of town,[9] and other lodging is available, including several bed and breakfasts. Activities in the area include camping, fishing, hiking, climbing, as well as spiritual explorations."

 

If you visit Ouray and like hot springs, consider Orvis Hot Springs just south of Ridgeway. It's about 9 miles from Ouray. It's a "clothing optional" facility (I have visited many times, kept my swimsuit on and have never been uncomfortable) with multiple outdoor pools, massage, camping, etc. The setting and grounds are beautiful and the people are very friendly and accommodating.

 

If you are near Aspen, consider visiting Redstone and taking a 4-wheel drive to Crystal, an old mining town. I haven't been in Redstone/Crystal for many years, but have great memories from there.

 

I haven't decided where to go this fall. I've been considering traveling from Iowa to the Canadian Maritimes, but I'm not sure I want to drive that far. I may head west instead--it's possible that I'll see you in Colorado! Visiting the Rocky Mountains in the Fall is a great experience.

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Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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Some quick comments on the Alpine Loop and the established "tourist trails". Other than a few of the ones rated "Difficult" (Black Bear, one-way down into Telluride in particular, has killed some careless visitors) these routes are really not as hard or scary as the warnings indicate.

 

If you have a little experience driving secondary forest roads and are not accrophobic, you will have no problems driving a Wrangler all over the place. If you have doubts then you can take a guided tour. Bring winter clothes because they are open topped and this is a place that is best experienced with unobstructed views.

 

If you drive the Alpine Loop, your halfway break stop is Lake City. As I mentioned, it is a wonderful spot. It has some very cool shops, a good city park, and lots of nicely maintained Victorian buildings, so you can stretch your legs with a small walking tour.

 

I really want to revisit this area and spend at least a week exploring. One reason we traded our truck in on a Land Cruiser is so we can park Mouse at a secure, centrally located RV park, in Ouray for example, and cruise the high passes easily and in comfort.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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One reason we traded our truck in on a Land Cruiser is so we can park Mouse at a secure, centrally located RV park, in Ouray for example, and cruise the high passes easily and in comfort. John Davies Spokane WA

 

So where's the pic of the new SUV? The 200 sure sounds like a nice ride :)


Happy Camping,


null


Reed & Karen Lukens with Riffles our Miniature Poodle


2017 Oliver Legacy Elite II  Standard, Hull #200 / 2017 Silverado High Country 1500 Short Bed 4x4


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Click on our avatar pic above to find the videos on our Oliver Legacy Elite II


 

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So where’s the pic of the new SUV? The 200 sure sounds like a nice ride ????

Here, I am sorry for drifting away from the thread subject. I have only owned the 200 for 24 hrs. I have already removed the rear jump seats, rigged a cargo barrier net in back, and a pet hammock for the dogs in the middle. I am waiting on my adapter harness so I can mount my P3 and then see how the truck works towing....

 

The Ram is in the background. I got a heck of a good trad- in value for it - the non-emissions diesel trucks are in VERY high demand. More pics in a new thread, later.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Nice looking tow vehicle!


Don

 

2020 Conqueror UEV 490 Extreme Platinum

 

 

2019 Ram Rebel

 

 

States I visited with my Ollie (Sold October, 2019)

 

 

States Visited Map

 

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Wow, great advice!  I've got my map and highlighter out filling in my planned framework.  I appreciate the input.  I thought by starting north in RMNP and working south weather issues could be mitigated.  I checked average temps and precipitation  for September and it looks like we will be good.  Mike


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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nothing to see here


Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


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Mike and Carol - You mentioned Pikes Peak.  I'd recommend that you take the cog railway ( http://cograilway.com/ ) instead of driving.  That way, both of you can look around during the trip up and down.  Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Mike and Carol – You mentioned Pikes Peak. I’d recommend that you take the cog railway ( http://cograilway.com/ ) instead of driving. That way, both of you can look around during the trip up and down. Bill

Bill, great suggestion. I wasn't aware a cog railway existed!  Our first stop will be the Colorado Springs area. Thanks - Mike


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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Yes, at $40 a pop its not cheap, but, it sure beats hearing you and Carol taking turns screaming - depending on just which one of you is on the outside of that turn.

 

Bill


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Yes, at $40 a pop its not cheap, but, it sure beats hearing you and Carol taking turns screaming – depending on just which one of you is on the outside of that turn. Bill

I didn't think the Pikes Peak drive was scary at all. Exhilerating, for sure. No guard rails except for the outside of the tight turns, but it is wide, striped and very well maintained, paved clear to the top now, and no sheer cliffs. I would be very reluctant to tow Mouse up to the top, but without a trailer it isn't especially spooky. Unless you have never driven in mountains before.... on a scale of 1 - 10 it is maybe a 3. If I recall correctly RVs are discouraged, so it is just cars and pickups... going 25 mph.

 

The elevation near the top is a big factor if your vehicle does not have forced induction and you are heavily loaded. Going down you have to use your very lowest gears and go slow. Just like any other serious High Country mountain pass. The average grade is less than 7%.

 

 

http://www.pikespeak.us.com/Essentials/driving-tips.html

 

http://roadtreking.com/climbing-pikes-peak-rv/

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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The scare factor of mountain roads depends on where you learned to drive, your own idiosyncrosies, and your confidence in your driving/driver, and your vehicle.

I often tell people, Paul is a fearless driver, but I'm not a fearless passenger. I'm a lifelong flatland dweller... Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Florida. Not many challenging mountains here.

Heck, I've been known to get sick in the balcony watching a ballet. Several times...

Nonetheless, Paul confidently and carefully drives the unpaved high mountain goat trails, sans guard rails, and I not only survive, but have learned to help to look ahead for oncoming traffic on the one lane roads. Iceland's west fjord sheer drop offs from one lane dirt roads will either cure you, or make you stay home...

I don't want to stay home...

 

Sherry

 

 

 

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If we drive up to Pikes Peak it will be sans trailer for sure. We spent months in the Alps in 5 different countries, I'm used to driving in the mountains. The cog train does sound interesting though. Mike


Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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My post concerning "screaming" was intended to be "cute" and not in  anyway disparage anyone's ability (or lack thereof) to drive mountain roads.  By taking the railway both people can look around without the hassle of also having to watch traffic.  Both people can look for wildlife, both can look at the view, both can relax.  Certainly it gives you another alternative.  Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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My post concerning “screaming” was intended to be “cute” and not in anyway disparage anyone’s ability (or lack thereof) to drive mountain roads.

 

I chuckled right away and appreciate the humor!  It made for an amusing thought cloud......

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Mike and Carol | Fair Oaks Ranch, TX | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram Rebel 4X4 5.7L Hemi

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We took that drive (Million Dollar Highway) with our Ollie about three weeks ago--going North to South (Ouray to Silverton). Have done it before in a single vehicle. It was not all that intimidating with Stan (our Tundra) and Ollie. One of the hairiest drives I've ever taken, however, was a few years ago over Engineer Pass--unpaved between Ouray and Lake City--with a two-wheel-drive Tacoma in late spring. The apex of the pass was pure ice and snow.  Don't think I would try to take Ollie over that one at anytime--although pulling Ollie with four-wheel-drive Stan so far has been a pleasure and piece of cake. We are looking forward to more Colorado adventures for sure.

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Onward through the Fog!


EarthPicks of Cochise County


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We spent last September in the Estes Park area and stayed at Paradise on the River and backed right up to the river and could fish.  Great people own it and keep it very clean and it is very quick access into the park.  We also stayed near Frisco and Breckenridge at the Tigers Run Resort with full hook ups and backed up to the river.  It is a resort and has many nice amenities.

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