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Old 05-04-2010, 09:51 AM   #29
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US 550 is a spectacular and slow drive from Ouray south or Durango north. Yes, the road is narrow, steep and has some very tight switchbacks. Because we've taken it a number of times, we tow over Lizard Head Pass when going SW to save time, but if you've never seen that part of the world, do it. Make sure truck and trailer are in very good condition.

Scrapirony 2 summers in Silverton and you might see their MH parked there.


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Old 05-04-2010, 01:43 PM   #30
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Check out the "Old 100 Gold Mine Tour" just outside of Silverton. There are a couple of old miners that own the place, and it is a great place for family and kids. Plus, you get to pan for silver at the end of the tour! When you get close, check the tourist brochures for the location and hours.

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Old 05-04-2010, 01:47 PM   #31
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We like Priest Gulch and there are many Texans there
Kistler & Brenda

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Old 05-04-2010, 01:53 PM   #32
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There is also little Molas which is a dry camping sites. This lake is just north of the large lake and camp ground it is also a great place to camp.. With trails to hike and bike, fish all around. It is on the west side of the highway.

May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

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Old 05-04-2010, 07:08 PM   #33
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Talking I want company this summer

So if you're in the area of Mesa Verde, remember that I have CP (Courtesy Parking). The view cannot be beat! You must be a true boondocker as I am off grid, but in a pinch, if it is sunny any you need a little juice for the batteries, it is available.

Charlie, (Pacerized)! What a great time we all had at Lizard Head. If you all are in the area come visit.

GStephens, if you all are boondockers give me a holler, I can definitely handle five. Nice and rustic, just like the OLD WEST.


Here is the view.
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:41 PM   #34
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Thanks to all who have responded, I appreciate the input. Keep it coming...
If you're wondering what I'm talking about, see post 23.
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Old 05-07-2010, 10:31 AM   #35
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The last time we were in the SW of Colorado we had a rental car and were tent camping. We did not get adventurous in our travels. Plan on being there again this summer in first half of July. Our own truck and towing our airstream. I remember trails over the mountains from Teluride going over to hwy. 550. How passable are these trails ???? I have a 4x4 diesel pickup ( with good brakes ) and am not intimidated easily

Are any of these trails ok to take towing a 31'er along. Or am I better to leave the trailer in a campground and be adventourous without it ???? Thinking of the Teluride and/or Ophir area's. I think it would be spectacular to do some dry camping in the high mtns. if the trailer could handle the roads.

Thanks, trying to plan some adventures for this trip. Appreciate any and all input.

Roger from NJ
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Old 05-07-2010, 12:23 PM   #36
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There are a number of old mining and logging roads in the area you describe. They are not for any travel trailer although in some cases there may be a decent road for a few miles off the main highway. Check it out carefully. If a road is marked 4WD, no trailer will survive it well and turning around may be impossible. Years ago—I don't know if it has been updated—I bought a copy of the Colorado Pass Book and it was very thorough. There are probably other more recent sources for info.

The most extreme jeep roads into Telluride are Black Bear and Imogene (pron.: Eye-mogene). I've never driven either of them. I'd like to think that's because I've never gotten around to it but when you are in Telluride and look up at Black Bear hanging off the side of the mountain, taking that road is a hard choice to make. It's one way and you have to take the Imogene Pass Road the other way. The switchbacks on Black Bear are probably too intense for a full size truck—they are truly for jeeps.

In fact a lot of 4WD roads are best traveled in a compact truck or SUV that is truly a truck and not a car with a truck like body pasted together. When two vehicles meet on a narrow road with a big drop off you may want to be in a vehicle about 3 feet wide. Some never open in the summer because of snow, others by late June or into July.

If you have any fear of heights, this can be daunting. The off camber shelf roads are the scariest. There are so many people exploring the backcountry now that these once quiet areas are busy and isolation seems hard to achieve. I'm unsure whether my perception of it being more and more crowded or just being done with 4 wheeling stopped me from driving the old roads. Bouncing over 4WD drive roads is harder to take in your 60's than it was 20 years earlier.

Nonetheless, telling your friends back in Jersey what you did can make it all worth it. It can be fun and the scenery is amazing. You do have to be very careful as it is dangerous and very expensive to get towed out. Driving in Manhattan is much easier. Start with the easier 4WD roads and gain some experience. Driving these roads is an artform. It is very, very slow going. Ophir Pass is much easier if I recall correctly. There are passes west of Lake City—Cinnamon and Engineer—that are easier too and come out close to the area you are interested in.

Do a lot of research, maybe at the library, for books on Colorado passes.

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Old 05-07-2010, 01:10 PM   #37
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Gene is right about the roads in the area, if they are marked as four wheel drive, do not try to take a trailer. Black Bear pass can be traveled to the top from Hwy 550, but do not try to take a full sized vehicle down from the top into Telluride. That is a short-wheel base road only. Imogene can also be traveled with a 4WD pickup, but as Gene said, it is narrow and very rough. Ophir Pass is another that can be traveled by 4WD pickup. Remember, many of them are called jeep roads for a reason. There are easier roads going east out of Silverton that a pickup can travel. Some of the higher roads may not be open in early July due to snow. I have driven Imogene in early July after it had been opened up by county bulldozers, and we were driving through cuts in snow drifts that were 10-15 high on each side of our Jeep. Spectacular scenery. The counties try to plow some of them, but depending upon snow depths and funding, many don't melt out until later in the summer. The BLM/USFS office in Montrose (970-240-5300) can provide the latest info on what roads are open. Enjoy!!
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Old 05-07-2010, 02:32 PM   #38
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Thanks for confirming what I think I already knew. I have a full size PU and understand what you mean by " Jeep Trail " not being for me. Can I assume ( and yes I know what it means ) that if there is no marking indicating, jeep trail, that it may be open to a larger vehicle ?????

Also, got the message, leave the trailer parked.

Thanks for the input.

Roger in NJ
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:47 PM   #39
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Roger, thanks for the PM. You cannot trust that there will be a sign saying 4WD; many of them end up in fraternities and elsewhere. Detailed topos and forest service maps will tell you which roads are 4WD. If you are very good at map reading, the FS maps can help a lot and save some money because topos have gotten expensive. There are many little roads off the highways and you can easily get lost without a map. FS road numbers disappear too, so careful map reading is necessary. If you want to bring your trailer off the highway and are unsure of the road, check the roads out first without the trailer. There are some amazing places to camp and the more used FS roads are pretty well maintained, but trusting that can leave you backing up a long way. Often FS roads aren't plowed and you can run into snowdrifts blocking roads in midsummer. It can be tricky at high altitude.

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Old 05-08-2010, 07:41 AM   #40
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Thanks Gene,

I think I know what you mean about FS roads. Several years ago we came through Wyoming and from Grand Encampment we took a FS road over the top into Steamboat Spr., Colo. Road was in decent condition with signs showing " no winter maint". It was early July so we continued. We did not have our trailer and had a 4x4 Toyota 4runner. Anyhow the road was fine and the trip was very nice. There was one small bit of snow at the top that had been driven through so we had no problem at all. That was just a gamble with only a road atlas for guidance. Don't know if I would attempt to tow the AS over that pass. But I think the road would have handled it OK. Have to think on that one. Where do I find the FS maps available ????

I think we'll just leave it to day trips with the truck and stick to improved and semi-improved FS roads. Appreciate your thoughts.

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Old 05-08-2010, 09:26 AM   #41
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To get FS maps you can go to an office for the particular forest, but they are often not open. You can order them online either from the specific national forest or from private retailers (might cost more) or from the feds generally. I'd try Amazon too.

If you are near the area, recreation equipment stores like REI stock maps. They have stores in Denver and Grand Junction. There are also topo maps on DVD or CD to read on your computer, but that seems difficult in a car or truck. Book stores will have some—Tattered Cover (a wonderful book store you can spend hours in) in Denver has a pretty good map selection. I found the best road map of Alaska I've ever seen there recently. There are map stores, but they seem to be disappearing. You can get USGS topos at some stores, online or at the Federal Center USGS office in Lakewood (suburb of Denver), but since 9/11 I don't know if you can get in there anymore without a hassle.

Some things have changed since the Colorado Pass Book was published. Sometimes no one can afford to maintain the roads and they are eventually closed. Rollins Pass has been closed for years because Boulder Co. got tired of keeping the Needle Eye Tunnel open. FS funds have been diverted for years to oil and gas development in some places, and fire fighting is taking a massive chunk of funds, so the FS is closing some campgrounds or leasing them to concessionaires. Roads are deteriorating in places as recreational uses are shorted in the budgets.

I'm sure there are stores in Durango that would have maps too since that city is dependent on tourism.

And Google Earth can be fun to check. Several years ago before we took the very remote Dempster Hwy in Yukon Terr. and the Northwest Territories, I followed the whole road on Google to see what it was like. It looked better in person, but on Google Earth it wasn't muddy and didn't use any gas.

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Old 05-08-2010, 09:37 AM   #42
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If memory and google maps serves, I believe camping in Silverton and exploring with a full size pickup would work on some of the roads out of Silverton. I have a 2 wheel drive full size pickup and have been to Animas Forks. I used county road 2 and 9, see googlemaps. Along the way is a large flats that may allow trailers that can boondock. Used to be a town but all gone now. It would be slow driving but I wouldn't hesitate taking my rig there after checking about the roads and camping in the area with locals and the forest service. Animas Forks however, is not labeled on google, but visiting a book store in Silverton ought to allow the purchase of a ghost town and old mine map that will show it and many others in the area. That map or the proprietor ought to tell you which roads are usable for day trips.

I've also driven up state highway 110A North out of Silverton, great photos here and everywhere.

I agree there are lots of people in the hills, but, I can get off by myself by hiking as most people won't get too far away from their cars. Even 20 minutes will make a difference. Use your camera. Plan ahead. Remember, there's no air up there, take water, food and extra clothing, sunscreen, and etc.

There must be more roads one could explore with a full sized PU, the locals will know.

Sounds like fun, I'd better put this trip on my list, it's been years.

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