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Author Topic: Anyone have experience on Colorado Highway 24?  (Read 2701 times)
gumpy
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« on: July 05, 2006, 10:00:53 AM »

Anyone have any experience on highway 24 from Interstate 70 down through Leadville, CO, and on to Salida?

I'm wondering if there are any major grades, hairpin turns, etc, that I'll have problems with in the MC9 towing the Explorer. Looks like there are some hairpins on Google Earth, but they don't look that bad. Anybody ever taken their bus on this road?

How about 91, which runs from Copper Mtn down to Leadville?

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2006, 10:24:22 AM »

I take it 4 times a year with a 40 foot model 10 with an 18 foot trailer. I stay in lower gears but I dont have any problems, nothing a beer and shot wont fix when I get there. Have fun.
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gumpy
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2006, 10:42:01 AM »

Thanks Robert,

Do you know if there are any places to pull out and boondock for a night along there?  Or any place not too far off 24 where we could park overnight and maybe day trip out for a day or so?



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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2006, 01:30:46 PM »

If I remember there are a few large "pull offs" but I dont know if I would pull off for a night. I normally drive it at night. Have Fun
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2006, 02:23:36 PM »

I did 91 from Leadville through Climax to I-70.  Up hill to the pass then over the top to I-70.  1st gear some of the way in my Eagle 10 pulling a ford ranger.  6v92 engine.  No worse than any other Colorado roads.  I did have to preheat my engine in Leadville in July.  It got down to 30 at night.  Ahh, that sounds good right now.  It's 99 outside in south Texas.  Yuk.

David
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niles500
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2006, 05:20:46 PM »

Gumpy - I always take 91 as I always come in from the east and it is shorter - based on your travel experiences you should have no problems with either 24 or 91 - south of Leadville the ride is less exhilarating (and downhill mainly) - I always take 82 over Indepenence Pass (illegaly since max length is 30') into Aspen - At the south end of town, I think off poplar, is a trailer/RV park that usualy has some vacancies - I wouldn't worry about parking on one of the sde streets for that matter - HTH
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2006, 04:42:22 AM »

Thanks Robert, David and Niles.

Niles, is that RV park in Leadville, or in Aspen?

We're not going to Aspen. We'll be coming from our fishing trip to WY heading to the in-laws in Pueblo. I'm sick of driving through Denver and down I-25 and want to see some new sights. I've never been in that part of CO.

I'm also toying with the idea of doing a round about trip down through Silverton, Durango, and across Wolf Creek Pass and over to Pueblo, but not sure time will permit that. I have to finish a retaining wall I've been building at the in-laws. Been working on it off and on for the last 3 years or so.

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2006, 08:35:16 AM »

Hwy 24 south through Leadville to Salida is a good road, better scenery than 70 and 25 out of Denver.  You can take 50 from Salida to Pueblo, down hill all the way following the Arkansa River.  I recommend a raft tip at Royal Gorge if you have time, very beautiful. 

If you go to Durango from Leadville it looks like US 50 to Montrose, south on US550.  I've heard Red Mountain Pass near Ouray is a real bear.  I've never done it, so can't help.  US550 Siverton to Durango isn't bad.  I'd take my bus through there if needed.


I've done US 160 from Durango.  I've done Wolf Creek both ways, slow but no big deal.  I recommend Jakes or a retarder.  I have a retarder. 

We are taking the bus up to Durango, Creede, Pagosa area July 16.  If we stay in Durango we always camp at United Campground north of town near the railroad tracks.   Maybe we will run into each other.

David
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gumpy
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2006, 09:08:08 AM »

David,

If we go down to Durango, it would be around Aug 1 and we'd probably go through Grand Junction to see some relatives I haven't seen in awhile. Chances are pretty slim we'll be able to make that loop this year, though. You're welcome to come up to WY and camp with us the last week of July, or if you come through Pueblo, you can look us up there. Plenty of room to park for a day or two.

We were over 50 between Pueblo and Salida at Christmas time. Good road. I was over Red Mountain about 15 years ago in the Explorer. If I recall correctly, there's 1 or 2 hairpins on it, just out of Silverton. I don't think it would be a big deal in the bus. It would probably be over the line, but it's wide open and you can see far enough to know if someone's coming the other direction. I don't think I'd be too concerned about that one.

I don't have jakes or a retarder, but I have a feeling there's not much in CO that's worse than the stuff we encountered on the trip to AK last summer. There were some pretty steep hills up through Canada, and along the AK pipeline road. After the first one caught me off guard (just north of the Columbia Ice Field) and I warmed up the brakes, I learned to slow way down, gear down, relax and enjoy the view. After we got home, I read that a converted bus had crashed on that hill and killed some people.

I'd love to have one of those electric retarders that go on the driveline, but I'm not sure they'll fit the MC9, or my wallet. I've heard great things about them, though, from some friends who drove and maintained school buses in WY for years.


craig

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2006, 05:11:34 PM »

If you turn off 24 and head up Hwy 82 for a few miles there is twin lakes and a recreation area,not sure how many miles it is 5 maybe 8 from hwy 24.
† I'm on the other side of the hill in Basalt Colorado 20 miles west of Aspen on Hwy 82 or 20 miles from Glenwood springs & I-70.We've got space for another bus for a night or two if your in the area.
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gumpy
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2006, 07:26:46 PM »

Thanks for the info on the twin lakes and the invite to stay at your place. Email me a phone number. "bcmagbb at gumpydog.com". There might be a chance we would come down through Rifle and down 82. I'll give you a call if we come that way. I won't have internet access in WY.

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Craig Shepard
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niles500
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« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2006, 01:45:04 AM »

Gumpy - The RV/Trailer Park is in fact in Leadville - I'm going to reprint from a previous post a similar trip for your benefit - but please feel free to contact me as I can depart more info on your proposed trip (you will love it) by calling me toll free at my office 1-800-476-6955 or cell # 813-267-5486 - HTH

A recent thread has prompted me to relate one of my favorite runs through the western Colorado Rockies - I will chronicle it from Denver to Durango, but it can easily be reversed. It has been a few years since my last run through here, so please feel free to correct any changes - Also I do not do most tourist traps, so I will delete those and some of the obvious attractions along the way - I do this as a summer trip - This trip has some very tough mountain grades and NO guradrails - remember to take your time and enjoy by availing yourselves of the many turnouts to view the scenic overlooks and allow the 4 wheelers to pass without aggrivation -

Heading west from Denver on I70 I like to stop shortly outside Golden at Idaho Springs and take the exit south to the road to Mt. Evans (highest road in US) - When you exit head south and find a location with which to park your bus (this is basically for 4 wheelers although I did once take a 35 foot Class A up once and did drag the rear end a lot on the switchbacks) - the road will be marked on the west side and a ranger will charge you a toll somewhere on the road - this is at least a half day excursion - so bring a picnic lunch as there are many scenic places to stop and enjoy it

Traveling west another 45 miles on I70 exit south at Copper Mountain exit and take Hwy 91 south to Leadville - this is a great old mining town to beat around in with a few unique museums - all within walking distance to a trailer park on the south side of town on the main street which usually has some vacancies and conveniently located with 2 blocks of one of the kewlest saloons in the rockies - NO A/C NEEDED

If you have time for a little dead end run you can continue south on Hwy 24 out of town in about 15 miles you turn west on Hwy 82 - the back way to Aspen - Now this road is limited to vehicles no longer than 30 ft. in length (although I did continue on to Aspen once in the aforementioned 35 footer) after Independence Pass - That being said I find this to be one of the most scenic drives in the Rockies by Motorcycle, 4 wheeler or bus - the return trip back is just as scenic as you view it with a whole new perspective

Leaving Leadville heading north on Hwy 24 to Vail Beaver Creek area puts you back on I70 west - heading into Glenwood Springs and just after the Gypsum exit is the "Hanging Lake" rest area - great place to get out, stretch your legs and take the 1 mile or so hike to hanging lake - after that you will know how acclimated you are to the elevation

The last exit before Glenwood Springs is NoName and on the south side of the exit is a great RV park with campsites right on the Colorado River - it is a good base with which to see most of Glenwood - you can also conveniently do your whitewater rafting right from the campground to which they will return you - My whitewater suggestions for this area are that you use a guide and ask for the smallest raft available as both these requests will provide for a most enjoyable ride - The river has many Hot Springs along the way that only guides and locals know of, has a sometimes risky navigation hazard under the bridge in Glenwood, and because of the depth of the water and drops in elevation is tough to set up for the best whitewater without having run the river before - below town there are photographers on a bridge who will take your pictures at one of the rapids (it is customary to hold your paddles over your head for the picture) - that night you can view and/or purchase your pics in the lobby of the Hotel Colorado - Glenwood of course has the giant Hot Springs pool where the temperature in the main pool is always moderate enough to be very refreshing - West of town, near Rifle, there are horse riding stables for those so inclined, a monument and the remnants of the tragic fire at Storm King mountain which has been the subject a few TV documentaries - Sunlight is a resort located southwest of town by crossing the roaring fork river (at certain times of the year the Roaring Fork is a fishing mecca) which is a nice jaunt for lunch or dinner as the restaurant is world class especially for such a small resort - On the east side of Cooper Ave. (main st.) one block south of the Colorado river is Doc Holiday's bar/restaurant, which was once owned by a prior partner's sister - sit down have a schnaps and a 'Little King' and take in the huge one piece bar, brought down many years ago from Leadville on a wagon no less, and the original 'diamond dust' mirrors - Another fine and world famous restaurant is Sopri's which is located on the way to Aspen

Heading south out of Glenwood take Hwy 133 south out of Carbondale - there are a few rustic and mainly empty campgrounds that you might stay at before reaching McClure Pass and the little town of Marble - the road to the Marble Quarries is dirt and moderately passible by 4 wheelers and better with 4x4's , but both will include a hike - be careful at the quarry as it is deep full of ice cold water and has NO GUARDRAILS - so watch out leaning over

Continuing south on 133 you'll want to head east/south at the junction with Hwy 92 which provides you access to the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison - there are many campgrounds along the north rim but only one that I can think of along the south rim -

When you hit Hwy 50 you have a choice to continue to Gunnison and possibly the spur to Crested Butte if you have time - eventually you will head west back on 50 and the south rim to Montrose, one of a group of clean unfettered towns in the western Colorado Rockies included with Gunnison, Delta, Grand Junction etc. - you have now entered horse country and there are many summer rodeos, fairs and parades for your pleasure if the timing is right - Montrose is also a good town to put on provisions as this is the last major town till Durango and it takes me usually 2 to 3 weeks to get there

Heading south on Hwy 550 you come to ridgway (one of the homes of Dennis Weaver - where he used to have a quant theatre) and a choice to take Hwy 62 west to Hwy 145 south and the towns of Telluride and Ophir - now resorts - I can remember my first trip to Telluride as a town of only 200 +/- year round residents - now it looks like Aspen 30 years ago - still plenty of beautiful views and 4 wheelin oppurtunities -

South from Ridgway you come to one of my favorite towns - Ouray - just a small town (8 blocks long) nestled in a canyon - you can stay in a park on the east side of town along the Uncompahgre river or a campground up in the Amphitheatre area of the canyon - The park allows you to take a 2 block walk to town - If you have a 4 wheeler one of the treks is just south of town as you climb out of the canyon there is a turnoff to the right that takes you past the Ouray mine (who's prior owners once owned the 'Hope Diamond') and camp Bird - almost immediately aafter you turn on to the road you come to a abandoned mine shaft and some unique water falls - A 4 wheeler will take you most of the way up to Mt. Sneffels but a 4x4 (which you can rent in town) will take you right up to the snow and the base of Mt. Sneffels - one of Colorado's many fourteeners - It is possible to drive up in the morning and do a peak climb on Sneffels and return that evening - Caution that if you are not an experienced Alpine climber this is not a place that you will want to trek past a point a few hundred yards within the base or the ridge as during summer there is still much snowfall and avalanching - the weather also changes rapidly (as I can attest as one time we were caught traversing an almost vertical ridge when a storm came up pinning us on the side of the mountain - we stood in kicked footholds and dug handholds for over an hour trying not to get blown off the mountain - I was roped off in ten foot increments with 3 others and could not see them or hear them during the entire storm) - It is still a great place to play in the snow

Heading south from Ouray to Silverton for only 25 miles is one of my favorite spots in the US and have spent as long as 2 weeks traveling this short distance - there is at least one Campground and numerous clay roads running off Hwy 550 which are not regulated and sparsely occupied - the amount of big game (bears, mountain lions, wolves, deer etc.) located within this stretch is the most intense I have seen in western Colorado - 30 years ago I traveled almost 300 miles (as the crow flies) in this part of the Uncompahge NF and San Juan NF, mainly going up and down, and it is still as untouched and wild as it was then - when you get to Red Mountain Pass, if you can find a turnout, stop and climb one of the Red Mountains (US geodedic maps available in Ouray) as the peaks are not that high or that far above tree line - I have never been on top of the Red's without seeing a mountain lion on the way up or the way down - one time as cresting the top of RM1 we surprised two Adults and two Cubs -

Silverton is a great little town surrounded by snow covered ridges - I refer to it as the 'Key West' of the Rockies - I don't know the condition of the mine road, but after they had changed the grade of the road years ago, while hiking we once found a 'brand new' 10 year old Jeep Wagoneer with less than 10,000 miles on it with barely part of the white roof reflecting under the snow - unfortunately the grade of the new road was 50 feet below this old one - don't know if they ever got it out, but I always warned people not to buy white vehicles in the mountains as it is hard to locate them under 10 years of snow pack - LOL

Heading south from Silverton you come across steep grades and some switchbacks around Purgatory - take your time as this is the ride you would pay for if you take the Durango narrow gauge railroad to Silverton - some times you can see it to the east as it travels along the Animas (sp?) river - In Durango my only suggestion is, even if you don't take the RR, stop and take the tour of the Rail Yard - If they are still restoring and repairing the cars on site it is quite a tour and the craftsmen there are some of the best I've met - There are no parts distributors for any of these babies

Heading west (after restocking your provisions in Durango) about 50 miles on Hwy 160 is Mesa Verde - If you have children they should love it - there is a large campground within the park that is a good base to liesurely tour the many cliff dwellings

Now if you have the time to continue west and see one of the most underated areas of the country, southern Utah, well ......... thats another trip .........

Niles
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gumpy
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« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2006, 05:07:13 AM »

Thanks Niles.

I recall that post, now.

I suspect we don't want to try the independance pass thing in the bus since it's 40' and towing the car brings us out to about 65'.  They might frown on that.

I'm thinking of coming ouf of Steamboat through Oak Creek and over to Wolcott instead of going over Rabbit Ears and Kremling and into Dillon. That's why I was looking at 24 instead of 91. It's closer to Wolcott, I think.

If we decide to go over Rabbit Ears, I'll probably do the 91.

craig
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Craig Shepard
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