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Old 12-05-2015, 09:04 PM   #1
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Durango to Montrose

Late in May we will be in Durango CO. I plan to drive north on 550 to Montrose, CO. 550 is the primary road but I was wondering if anyone has towed their Airstream over the high passes. Do you have to worry about switchbacks or steep downgrades (excess of 10%)?

Thanks for any input you can offer. Rich
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Old 12-05-2015, 09:16 PM   #2
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We have traveled all over that country with our 31' classic, our dodge with 6.7 come- along has a good exhaust brake, just watch your speed and don't get in a hurry and all is well, one of the guys here hauled 80' beams all over them mountains for the ski resorts and larger buildings, a very neat area...
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Old 12-05-2015, 10:17 PM   #3
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It is not for the timid, but I do it two or three times a year with trailer. The speed from Red Mountain to Ouray is 25mph so you can take your time and focus on the road. Use the pull-outs to let traffic by. It's doable but demands your full attention.
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Old 12-05-2015, 10:50 PM   #4
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Durango to Montrose

Just pretend that the 500 foot cliff at the east side of the shoulderless road is not there and you will be fine.

It is no big deal, just be cool.

There are some serious switchbacks but they are all very generous as far as turning room.


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Old 12-05-2015, 11:44 PM   #5
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There is another route if you are concerned about the switchbacks which aren't that bad. Go west out of Durango then take Highway 145 north thru Dolores and Rico over Lizard Head Pass.
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by classic34 View Post
Late in May we will be in Durango CO. I plan to drive north on 550 to Montrose, CO. 550 is the primary road but I was wondering if anyone has towed their Airstream over the high passes. Do you have to worry about switchbacks or steep downgrades (excess of 10%)?

Thanks for any input you can offer. Rich
Amazing on this forum how many people with personal knowledge of the area have replied already! Having visited Telluride a few times (not the high passes), my only comment would be that a trailer trip over these high passes is not for the novice or faint-hearted . . .

Late in May is there any chance that some of the high passes could still closed by snow or avalanche risk?

Please report back next year on what you find.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:12 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your information.
I think 550 would be fine. So, that is the way we will go.
Thanks for the local knowledge and experience.
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:58 PM   #8
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I have driven that route many times over the past 30 years, driving from Denver to ski with my daughter at Durango Mtn ski resort, camping (tent), and family visits. In the early years, the drive, in SUV only, (no RV), was quite thrilling. I always enjoyed the drive....in both directions...it is so awesomely beautiful.

That was "when I was much younger"! (Adventurous)! Two years ago, towing a T@B 15' TT....PAST 70...not so thrilling, more of a white knuckle type experience. That being said...it is doable, if you are careful. (I am now too much of a Fraidy Cat to tow my BAMBI 16' Sport over that route now)!

Keep your eyes on the road, leave the sightseeing to others in the vehicle. Drivers need to stay alert. Try not to meet any other big vehicles, RVs, semis...on the sharp curves, with overhangs, on 2 lane sections, as it will be tight. I suggest you check the state road conditions if early or late in season, as Molas and Red Mtn passes could have snow and ice, and you WILL NOT WANT TO TOW AN RV THEN! There is also potential for road closures due to landslides at any time of the year. Just check with state road conditions.
Good luck and enjoy this beautiful part of our state.
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Old 12-06-2015, 03:06 PM   #9
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BTW, another route, If passing through Denver region, might be to take 285 hwy from Denver to 160 hwy, over Wolf Creek pass, also a pretty drive, just not as hard. When towing, that is the route I take. Just an idea.
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Old 12-06-2015, 03:55 PM   #10
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We did it southbound through Uray to Durango. Construction south of Uray might hold you up for a little bit but the road is good and spectacular scenary. We did it towing our 30'er. Take your time to " smell the roses" along the way.
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Old 12-06-2015, 05:56 PM   #11
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We went to the WBCCI rally in Farmington nam last year & decided to go that route into Colorado ... I was very concerned (ok, I was terrified) ,but the drive was very pleasant, albeit a little nerve wracking - first time jitters as it turns out. I would - will- make that drive again as circumstance permits. My wife tells me my knuckles were mostly white during the drive & I tried not to look off the road toward the canyon.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:11 AM   #12
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I live in Colorado and tow my Airstream a thousand or so miles every summer.
If your tow vehicle and trailer are within weight ratings and your hitch is properly set up, it is not difficult.
Just watch your speed on the downhills. Every curve has a posted advisory speed and if you are at this speed or below, you will be fine. Use engine braking and don't ride your brakes. I have a diesel and have an engine brake which makes things easier.
Remember, truckers in rigs much bigger than yours drive these passes even in the winter without incident.
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:24 AM   #13
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I would hesitate to recommend doing that route with a tow vehicle and trailer that are just within weight ratings. There are actually three separate passes there, all close to 11,000 ft. in elevation. Assuming you are not turbocharged, your naturally aspirated engine will lose about 30% of its power. You'd be crawling over those hills.
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:30 PM   #14
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I would not worry about the above statement. You will have plenty of power with a normally aspirated engine. The recommended speed limits (yellow signs) will in most cases not exceed 45 mph on this route and many are 25 to 35 mph.
If you head these speeds you will do fine going up or down hill.
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