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Pagosa Springs to Denver via Leadville CO


SRPearson

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The wife and I are thinking of traveling up to Pagosa Springs, CO from Santa Fe, NM, then up to Leadville, CO and out to Denver. Looking for the safest route. Not really fond of white knuckle driving. We will be traveling in a 37' Country Coach (400 hp diesel pusher) pulling a Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup. Gross combined weight of around 44,000 lbs. Or, after Pagosa Springs go to Denver and make Leadville a day trip with the Silverado?

slopoke

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There is really no white knuckle driving from Pagosa to Denver, but several options on routes. The worst is right out of Pagosa on 160 east where you have to go up and over Wolf Creek Pass. Its high and steep, but very good road, plenty of passing lanes for those going faster and no white knuckle sections. Continue on 160 east through South Fork (my summer homebase) to the next small town of Del Norte, where you will take hwy 112 north to cut over to US285. North on 285 through small towns of Saguache, Villa Grove and Poncha Springs. There is a small pass, Poncha Pass, just before you drop down to Poncha Springs, but this is a minor pass by Colorado standards. Continue north on 285 toward Buena Vista. Just before Buena Vista, In Johnson Village, 285 and 24 split. Most locals here would turn east on 285 and take 285 all the way to Denver. But if you want to see Leadville, just go straight through Buena Vista on what is now US24. In about 10 miles you'll pass the left turn to 82 and Twin Lakes (the back road to Aspen), which is a beautiful camping, hiking, fishing area when you have time. US24 will climb up to Leadville, and on the north side of Leadville the road splits again. You have the choice of continuing on 24 NW to its intersection with I-70 near Eagle-Vail; or take hwy 91 north to I-70 near Copper Mountain. Both options involve some twisty up and down but good 2 lane roads. 24 is probably a bit less steep, but the longer option if you're headed east to Denver. No real worries either way and this is a beautiful drive through the Colorado high country. Our annual fall color show, with the aspen leaves turning, is just underway and will probably peak over the next 7-10 days, varying in different areas and by elevation.

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X3.

 

We just spent the weekend at a wedding at Pagosa Springs. We drove down from son's place in Fort Collins and spent the night at O'Havre Lake NF CG. Saw a couple of good dispersed camping sites on the way out and used one on our return. This was about a mile below the lake.

 

This was the weekend everyone in Denver was out viewing the Aspens and they were magnificent. Son and family drove back on Sunday and said that it was bumper to bumper from Fairplay to Bailey. There was not much traffic on Monday

Reed and Elaine

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SloPoke, I forgot to mention, although there are several very nice campgrounds in & around Leadville (both commercial and Forrest Service); since they are all over 10,000 ft elevation they usually begin closing down around Oct 1 -15. Depending on your timing that may be a factor.

Rather than driving all the way back to Leadville from Denver, at least 2 hrs each way depending on traffic & weather; you could stay in Buena Vista which is 2,000 ft lower elevation (much milder weather) with many nice campgrounds, and drive to Leadville from there.

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I want to thank everyone who responded. We are still in Santa Fe and will leave for Pagosa Springs next Tuesday. I know now that it will not be the roads over the passes I need to be concerned about. Where we go after Pagosa Springs will depend on the weather. I appreciate the suggestions on campgrounds. Will let you know how this trip goes once we get into Denver.

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