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Old 04-04-2008, 09:35 PM   #1
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Experience with Independence pass, CO

We're going to Colorado in July, possibly with our 19' Bambi. We are interested in traversing independence pass. Has anybody here taken their AS up and over? Our TW is a VW Touareg with a V8 and fantastic brakes. Our trailer is not terribly heavy. Thoughts anyone?
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:49 PM   #2
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Go for it. you should be just fine
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:58 PM   #3
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I don't know the specific grade of Independence pass, but it's one of the tougher passes to climb. Having said that I don't think you'll have a problem with your setup. If you have a tow/haul option on your VW I'd use that and try to keep it geared down instead of using your brakes.

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Old 04-04-2008, 11:25 PM   #4
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My thought is don't do it

Quote:
Originally Posted by JustinCase
We're going to Colorado in July, possibly with our 19' Bambi. We are interested in traversing independence pass. Has anybody here taken their AS up and over? Our TW is a VW Touareg with a V8 and fantastic brakes. Our trailer is not terribly heavy. Thoughts anyone?
My thought is don't do it. The narrow road bed is more of an issue than steepness.

Here is the info from the "Mountain Directory West for Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers";

INDEPENDENCE PASS elev. 12095'
(on Colorado Highway 82 east of Aspen, CO)
This pass is closed in winter. Vehicles over 35 are prohibited. On the west side of this pass there are 15 mph hairpin turns that are much less than 2 lanes wide. There is little room to negotiate these turns because of vertical rock walls on one side and vertical drop offs on the other There is also very little visibility ahead to see if someone is coming from the opposite direction. This is certainly a spectacular pass to travel but not in a large vehicle.
The descent westbound begins with a sign that says--"Steep grade next 6 miles." There are sharp curves, including 15 mph hairpin turns but this upper part is much better road than farther down. The grade is about 6%. About 10 miles down from the summit the road narrows and the next 5 miles are steep and winding with the narrow hairpins described above. The Colorado Dept. of Highways lists this pass at 6%.
The eastbound descent begins with a sign--"Steep grade next 5 miles--sharp curves." There are 25 mph curves and 10 mph hairpins and parts of the grade during the first 4 1/2 miles seem much steeper than 6%. After the first 4 1/2 miles the speed limit increases but the grade remains about 5-6% for another 5 to 6 miles, finally leveling off about 15 miles down from the summit.
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:53 PM   #5
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I too would be more concerned with the narrow road & hairpin curves. The chance encounter of either someone coming the other way or someone behind you wanting to pass at "the wrong time" would be unnerving. The pass is beautiful...but I don't think I'd do it with a trailer in tow. Make it a day-trip...

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Old 04-05-2008, 04:58 AM   #6
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Back in 1964 with 4 of us in the family Ford (small V8) we did the pass towing a 16' Mallard. Wish I could find the pic at the top.

There was a post a few months ago with a pic of a "six cylinder FWD GM sedan" that towed a large Airstream up the pass.

Thinking the mightly T-teg could easily handle the climb.
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:19 AM   #7
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It's a LOT of fun on a motorcycle, I can tell you that ... just exactly because of the twisties and hairpin curves. But if you wanna' do it towing, I'd go real early in the morning, so as to avoid some of the traffic.
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:45 AM   #8
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We have towed a 22' Sovereign with a Dodge Ram 2500 many times over Independence pass. The problem is the three narrow sections on the west side. They are basically single lane with blind approaches so you don't really want to meet anyone there, especially when you are westbound. Eastbound traffic tends to crowd the centerline and that pushes westbound traffic up against the rocks. We usually do it early morning to avoid traffic.
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Old 04-05-2008, 07:47 AM   #9
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Don't do it......

A fun trip over Independence would be to unhook the trailer and spend the day just driving the car up and back. The hairpin curves are too dangerous and the spots where two cars can't pass, side by side, would not be worth risking the trailer, car occupants etc.... for.

It's a beautiful drive, but scary enough in a car.

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Old 04-05-2008, 08:42 AM   #10
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In 1978 I towed a Starcraft tent trailer over Independence. The tow vehicle was a 1973 Cadillac Eldorado. With its 500ci engine I had no trouble with towing issues but that loooong hood on the Eldorado gave me some thrills. At times I couldn't see the road over the hood!

Gene
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Old 04-05-2008, 08:51 AM   #11
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I've always avoided it, but my rig is over 35'

After criss-crossing this country a number of times, I've come up with this expression:

"You can always drive up hill to fast, but you only drive down hill to fast ONCE."

You can quote me!

Michael
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:37 AM   #12
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This is why I love this forum...

I couldn't find good info online about the pass. I would rather drive up and back with the Touareg than risk hurting us or the Bambi (I'm having visions right now of raking the side of her against a rock wall!) Day trip it is! Thanks everybody!
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:49 AM   #13
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Good choice Justincase!

It is an absolutely beautiful drive and best enjoyed safely!

Take lots of pictures. Also, drink a good amount of water so you are hydrated. I have taken people up Independence only to have them get a headache from altitude and lack of hydration.
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Old 04-23-2008, 09:42 AM   #14
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A little late on this one, but I've towed a small SOB trailer over Indepndence Pass, and I too say don't do it. As everyone has stated, the problem is the West side with very tight turns and narrow road. The rock out croppings come very close to hitting the trailer if you are on the down side....not as bad if you are going up heading East.
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