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Old 04-05-2014, 04:10 PM   #1
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Santa Fe to Great Sand Dunes, CO?

Hey All,

Has anyone taken 84 North out of Santa FE NM to RT 285 North towards the Great Sand Dunes National Park in CO? Just wondering is 285 is easy going towing a trailer, or mountainous. On satellite view it doesn't look to bad, but just thought I'd check in here and ask.
Also, any good camping experiences in or near Great Sand Dunes?

Thanks very much in advance

Ian
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Old 04-05-2014, 04:23 PM   #2
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Before you leave SantaFe you should check out 10,000 Waves for a massage/spa day. Then the ride won't be so bad, regardless of the route you take.

The campground at the Sand Dunes National Park is pretty good. You might also want to take in the alligator farm not too far from the Dunes.
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Old 04-05-2014, 05:34 PM   #3
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There are some grades, but nothing too steep. Sand Dunes is an old park with tight spaces for large trailers. If you can't find one to fit, there is San Luis SP around the corner which has hook-ups.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:01 PM   #4
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Thanks! When you reference grades are you referring to 285? 6-7% or steeper? Drove from Globe, AZ to Superior, AZ and had some grades that were a bit more than felt uncomfortable with a 31' behind us.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:28 AM   #5
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No winding canyons. Road is good, few hills with long straight grades, mostly leaving Santa Fe.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:18 PM   #6
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Good choice for a destination! We stayed in the park, and loved it - would go back in a heartbeat.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:26 PM   #7
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I take that road at least once a year pulling a trailer (not my AS) when I go elk hunting. While it doesn't have steep grades, it does get a little rough around San Antonio mountain. When you pass through Alamosa if you like Mexican food, try Calvillo's Mexican Restaurant.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:40 PM   #8
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I have taken this trip many times towing my Airstream. There are some easy mountains north of Espanola, otherwise it is good flat two lane road.
There is some stop and go between Santa Fe and Espanola and you have to back track east a couple of miles through Alamosa to pick up the road to the great Sand Dunes. There is a KOA in Alamosa and camping advertised at a funky UFO place near the turn off to the sand dunes. I have stayed at neither place. There is also an alligator farm nearby, that's right, there are hot springs and the alligators live there.
Going back to civilization you can backtrack to Alamosa and take 160 over LeVeta Pass which is easy to I 25 or continue north through Villa Grove over an easy pass and go east to I-25 and east on U.S. 50 to Pueblo.
If you want to go west, best bet is to go north through Leadville and continue over Tennessee Pass to I-70.
Going west on 160 you have to go over Wolf Creek Pass which is one of the steeper more curvy passes.
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Old 04-06-2014, 01:41 PM   #9
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In general, you're talking about heading up either on the west side (285) or the east side (68/64) of the Rio Grande gorge area; the two routes meet up northwest of Taos at Tres Piedras. Neither side is as flat as a pancake, though I suppose there might be a small grade or two on the east side. Nothing that would slow you down much, though.

In terms of scenery, both sides offer something to see. I think I prefer the east route over the west, though. On the east, you basically follow the river itself right up the gorge. (The highway comes out of the gorge about 10 miles before you reach Taos.) And you get to drive over the Rio Grande gorge bridge outside of Taos if you go the east route. Good place to take some great pics -- or to wet your pants if you don't know that it's coming!


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