Smitty77_7

May/June South half of Colorado tips

36 posts in this topic

Vallecito Lake or Vallecito Resevoir ? There seems to be one of each with the Lake being north of the resevoir.

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Follow up question in regards to mild back dirt road/trails trekking.

 

We have a 2007 CRV AWD Toad, with a higher profile tire providing 1" extra ground clearance. We have Yokohoma YK-HTX tires, which are slanted more towards on road, vs off road. (Geolandar AT-S before this set, which while not full off road tires, did a pretty good job in dirt/gravel for this light riding car.)

 

So my question. Are the roads around the back roads and trails around the Pagosa Spring area a place we can take our CRV? We would not be pushing it hard, as it is not equipped for this, and take it slow and easy. We've done probably 2-3K miles over the years, on dirt roads and trails. Usually stopping and turning around if we feel we did not feel we wanted to abuse the car too much on a bad road:)!

 

Or, should we rent one of the Jeeps available.

 

And I suppose I should ask, if renting a Jeep, where should we consider? Cortez, Durango, Pagosa, Etc. - if spending the funds for one or two day sof getting out and about - which of the areas in this thread would you expend the funds to do so?

 

TIA,

Smitty

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We have driven our vehicles on many, many backroads over the last 47 years of camping and traveling.

 

If we saw a road on a map with a destination we thought was interesting, we just started driving on the road. We would go as far as we felt we could drive w/o getting stuck or doing damage to the vehicle.

 

I do 99% of the driving and always go slow. On the rough spots I drive with one foot on the brake and one on the accelerator so I can creep over rocks. Biggest chance of doing damage is when you bounce down on something sharp.

 

How far you go and just how rough a road you drive on depends on your experience and driving ability.

 

Way back in the 1970's we drove our Buick sedan across the 45 mile gravel River Road inside Big Bend National park. The bulletin board on the east end of the road did not say 4x4 recommended. When we got to the visitor center at Castolon on west end the road, the ranger there said "You did what? You didn't know the west end of the River Road was 4x4 recommended?" We made it fine. A few sections were kind of touch and go as far as ground clearance was concerned, but I didn't find the road all that bad.

 

Bottom line: Do some research and start off. Make your own judgements. If the road gets too rough then turn around. Go ahead and ask for road conditions from the ranger at the visitor center, but keep in mind they will ALWAYS err on the side of being over cautious. They don't want to be in the position of someone getting stuck and blaming the park or National Forest for getting stuck. Never be in a hurry. Never feel you HAVE to go to the end.

 

There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of gravel and dirt roads in Colorado which ARE suitable for vehicles which are NOT 4 wheel drive.

 

Take plenty of water and extra clothes even if you rent a jeep.

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For a really great 4 wheel drive route, rent a jeep and take the Alpine Loop from Silverton, over Cinnamon pass to Lake City, then back across Engineer Pass to Silverton. This is an all day 10-11 hour drive. Fantastic views. Also the wild flowers in American Basin, just over Cinnamon Pass are fantastic in July.

 

For a much more enjoyable drive, make it a two day drive and spend the night at a motel in Lake City.

 

In 1997 we did the Alpine Loop in our 3/4 ton 4x4 pickup with a light weight truck camper in the bed of the p/u. We took 3 days for the trip. The first night was in American Basin, 2nd night near Lake City at the CG at Lake San Cristobol. The third night was about 3/4 of the way up to Engineer pass.

 

Links to more info about Alpine loop, here here, here and here

 

Also a huge number of the roads on the maps above are suitable for your CRV. If or when the road gets too rough back up to a place to turn around.

 

Here is a link to info from Lake City about Alpine Loop. Lots of great pics of the views from Alpine loop as well.

 

Here is a quote about 2 wheel drive access to the Alpine Loop from the above link.

 

Important Road Conditions InformationSignificant parts of the Alpine Loop are accessible by regular, two-wheel drive vehicles. The highest and most spectacular areas are accessible only by high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles. If you do not have this kind of vehicle, you can rent one in any of the surrounding towns, or hire a tour provider to drive you.
Edited by Al Florida

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In the Silverton area here are links to our blog entries of our drives to Ophir Pass and Clear Lake.

 

The road to Ophir pass was suitable for any vehicle, but the road down the west side was too rough for a low clearance vehicle. The road to Clear Lake was steep, but no areas which required high clearance. Of course the road conditions change from year to year.

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I don't know if you dry camp or boondock. If you don't you really should try it. There are lots of great boondock and dry camping CG's in Southern CO.

 

Here are a couple of examples from our trip in Colorado

 

Mineral Creek, near Silverton. You will need to scroll down to near the bottom for the boondock spot.

 

Near Taylor Reservoir in the mountains above Gunnison, CO. In this blog entry there is info about one of the scenic gravel roads in CO suitable for 2 wheel drive and RV's.

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Google will find you many sites with back road information for Colorado. Lots of old abandoned railroad lines to explore.

 

regards

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There are many gravel roads around Pagosa Springs that you can do - no need to rent a Jeep. If you're thinking of getting on the Alpine Loop, many parts are 4x4 only and by the time you get to those areas you may not find a good turnaround spot. Definitely rent a Jeep for it. You'll enjoy it more. I think your transmission would be hurting navigating some of the areas and uphills. Renting in Silverton would save you some driving time to do some of the main stops on the Alpine Loop. Consider even staying in Silverton. The drive up from Durango is good. If you can swing July 4 in Silverton it's an extremely fun small-community celebration. Silverton is one of our favorite places in the U.S.! The part of Hwy 550 that some have trouble grasping is from Silverton to Ouray although we enjoy the drive. Ophir Pass is extremely easy compared to others in the area. :) We've also stayed at South Mineral Creek. It can be very crowded in July but not so in August. If you can get a spot with your windshield facing the stream you'll have an awesome view! Get to talking with 4-wheelers in the campgrounds and you might get invited to join them in their vehicle. It happened to us when we had the 5th wheel.

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Just be aware that this year there is a large narrow gauge railroad convention in Denver. Late Aug early Sep. Many places that are railroad related in Colorado will be crowded with train nuts. ME included.

 

regards

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We stumbled upon a town replica of Silverton, including the train up in the hills of Silverton a few years ago. Don't know if it's still there but it was an awesome sight!

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