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Old 04-20-2012, 09:26 AM   #15
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I've gone over some of those challenging passes mentioned in the last several posts, but without the Safari. West out of Death Valley through Panamint I recall as very steep and long as Don states. If you keep going you get to Lone Pine. A lot of movies have been filmed in the nearby Alabama Hills. You can drive through them (don't take a trailer) and it will all look familiar, especially from old westerns. I think a lot of Hopalong Cassidy movies were filmed there. The Sierra Nevada looms in the west.

Lukachukai Pass is in the eastern part of the Navajo Res. and crosses the NM-Ariz. state line. Also narrow, winding and steep. On the west side is an old trading post. It is the typical old trading post—convenience store, rugs and jewelry and I think they had gas. The family also owns one in Page, Ariz.

Going south from Ouray on US 550, the road out of town is steep and when you reach the top you follow a road without guard rails (so the plows can push snow off the side) and a big drop. It is a beautiful drive, but daunting for flatlanders and most others when you look down. There is also a snowshed—a man made tunnel where avalanches occur frequently to keep snow off the road. Starting May 20 we'll be spending 5 nights at the Ouray KOA and may take a drive to Silverton one day.

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Old 04-20-2012, 09:42 AM   #16
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Gene; when you go south out of Ouray and you get to the narrow part of the canyon. Keep an eye out for a "I'll call it a cabin" on the right. It's high up on the mountain side across the river. It looks like there is some kind of cable way that crosses the river about 100 yards north of the cabin. This must be how they get supplies to the place. When I was there 2 years ago, there were clothes hanging on the line outside. So it appears to be inhabited. I can't recall whether it was north or south if the waterfall. But talk about an out of the way place.
Have a good trip.
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:00 AM   #17
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Those cables were used at mines to carry out the ore in buckets. Sometimes the cables remain, other places just the towers where the cables used to be. The mills were often located way below the mine portals one one side of the valley. The mills needed a good supply of water (available in the valleys and not where the mines were) and used gravity to allow the slurry from the crushed ore to flow downward in the first steps of the milling. Then the semi-processed ore would be dumped into rail cars or, later, trucks, and then taken to another facility which would refine it further into whatever they were mining for. In Colorado that usually meant metals like gold, silver, lead, copper, zinc and others.

There were gold and silver mines above Ouray in places like Yankee Boy Basin that operated from the late 19th century until after WW II. Ouray was where the supplies were purchased and merchants made money there and built some very nice Victorian houses. There are also hot springs there. Today the town survives from tourism and retirees.

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Old 04-20-2012, 10:11 AM   #18
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Big Bear Lake from Lucerne Valley

Never go into Big Bear Lake, CA from Lucerne Valley. When you get to the end of the divided highway there's a sign which says "Trucks/trailers over 28' prohibited" and then next "Grades ahead 6% to 16%", and no place that you can turn around to go back. Severe switchbacks will be encountered going up the mountain which will cause you to take up the entire road with one side right against the rocks and the other side on the very edge of the cliff. The pucker factor is very high.
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:21 AM   #19
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Let me guess how you know this, Crusty . . .

Doesn't sound like a fun drive.... especially if DW is saying... "oh look at that view lol"
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:25 AM   #20
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I have been over the pass from Ouray to Telluride. It always amazes me how the miners got all that heavy equipment up the narrow roads. The use of trams were big in those areas. I've wondered if the cabin I spoke of was or is a 1 man mining operation, given the price of gold and silver these days.
My oldest son works in the gold mine near Victor, CO. He says they are doing quite well. They do it a whole lot different today. Open pit and all.
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:25 AM   #21
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no place that you can turn around to go back.
Is there no place to turn around at the sign, or after you ignore the sign? We've seen places were they "advise" not to travel, but no place to turn around when you see the sign.

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Old 04-20-2012, 11:30 AM   #22
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I actually made it in a cabover Peterbilt pulling a 48' trailer but let me tell you that I could smell vinyl on my breath from sucking the seat up.

That's a road that no vehicle pulling a trailer more than 10' long should ever be on.

Take a look at it on Google maps and zoom in on the mid-climb portion (and that only hints at the vertical climb).

There's no place to turn around once you see the first sign. That was some years ago and maybe it's changed since then but I wouldn't go there unless I knew for certain that I could go back, and the switchbacks will always be there
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:03 PM   #23
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Looks good from here.

Big Bear Lake, CA - Google Maps

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Old 04-20-2012, 12:06 PM   #24
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TG Twinkie--Did you mean "gold" instead of "good"?

I agree with all of the above on mountain passes. I have only been Airstreaming for the last 3 years but made most of those mountain passes in my faithful VW camper and three wide-eyed teenagers. Beartooth Pass out of Yellowstone is the "mother of all" passes. But my biggest challenge in 'Stream has been the California State Hwy 1 along the coast from LA to Oregon.
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:32 PM   #25
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Yes. Gold in the roadbed. Probably worth more than a million today.
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:41 PM   #26
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For the record, that was Granite Pass at over 9,000' east of Greybull in Wyoming, and we were eastbound so it was mostly climbing "leaning forward", <No idea why we do that..> and watching terrified looks of others coming at us. Clue should have been cheery signs alongside highway notifying us of "Shell Creek" exit, followed by "Shell Rapids" and finally "Shell Falls".. We did not try "OMG" pass on 14A.. We did arrive in beautiful high meadow where we were sure we could find Heidi with a little looking.. Long wide-open switchbacks for miles as we descended into South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore...
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:41 PM   #27
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There must be no restriction on trucks. (maybe trailer length) as this shows 2 truck/pup combinations near the top.
Big Bear Lake, CA - Google Maps

It looks like a very scenic drive.

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Looks good from here.

Big Bear Lake, CA - Google Maps

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Old 04-20-2012, 01:51 PM   #28
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Following your suggestion Dave, I just took the virtual trip up the mountain via Google street view and I see that the road has been widened and improved since my trip up it. I would never have made it if those guard rails had been there when I went up it.

I still wouldn't take an AS up it from that direction however because of the switchbacks and the other way in from Dan Bernardino is so easy.
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