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Old 06-30-2020, 12:19 PM   #1
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The Cortez, Colorado to Telluride Loop Challenge

Due to installing a NEW faulty Nikon San Disk Compact Flash... I lost three weeks of Off the Grid Boondocking photographs. I purchased it as a spare and installed the new disk and not the disk being used, by accident.

I wanted a spare in the event we needed a second. I had all the photographs to document this Adventure... lost

There are many on the Forum who may want to meet the challenge. There is a beautiful pullout at N37 47.09 / W108 04.26 at 9,066 feet on the East side of Road 535 and just before a campground in the trees about a quarter of a mile north.

The DeLorme Colorado Atlas, page 76 will mark the campsite. There are few signs once arriving at the campsites. We liked the open area just south of the NFS site at B-1 for reference on the location.

Nancy and I did this towing with our F350 4x4 and the 27 foot International. You do not need 4x4, as we did not, descending at the north exit back onto State Highway 145. We did it, not by knowing ahead. It is solid and firm all the way... down.

You should be an experienced off road tower, as that would help.

The 535 is paved one third of the way. One third is a wide well maintained NFS road. The last third goes to a well groomed NFS dirt road. It is the LAST FIVE MILES that will be the... challenge.

We did it towing a 27 foot International. The road is a single lane and switchbacks for five miles down the side of a mountain. It is not marked any different than the paved or wide improved road.

The last five miles is all down, narrow but plenty wide for an 8 foot wide trailer with room to spare. We did it with the 27 footer. The biggest threat would be someone coming up and would have to negotiate a switchback for two to pass.

We suffered NO damages... but you will have real kahunas for bragging rights to make this with or without the Airstream in Tow. I did not know in advance of what to expect. You DO. Took less than a hour going down. Maybe faster as I counted each mile as if my LIFE DEPENDED ON IT.

Would the Forest Service knock a road out for... this?

To make it a shorter experience. Start on the North access of 535 from 145 coming out of the Telluride intersection to the north at Keystone. Then find a turn around and... go down. If not sure... Tow Vehicle only. Then Airstream? Chicken... Whoooo Weeee

There will be ONE obvious detail you can photograph to PROOVE you did this. It will be very apparent. The last five miles from the north end going down or the first five miles going up will be remembered. Make sure you have a camera ready for posting on this Thread.

Those of you who want to drive it with the tow vehicle only... take some photographs. It is an experience you will never forget.

I will recall this five miles more than driving up Mount Antero 14,000+ feet in a 1985 Land Cruiser... experience.

If your Boondocking has been dull lately... leave Colorado refreshed. It will leave you with enthusiasm, confidence and a respect for those who, by accident, find themselves taking the challenge was not for the weak heart. A passenger can offer a second pair of eyes, which would also be a plus.
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Old 07-02-2020, 09:13 AM   #2
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Try Tow Vehicle... First on last Five Miles

I thought I would give a warning that anyone who is in the Telluride, Colorado area who might find this post a bit of a challenge... explore the last five miles.

The majority of this road is non eventful. The open pullout campsite is excellent, if coming from the south it is within 100% of everyone's comfort zone.

We did this. I had no choice once on this short section. It was uneventful but not for those who are not experienced 'make it up as you go' towing a pristine Airstream.

If you enjoyed the Ouray, Colorado switchback exiting the south side of town... this is much shorter, steeper and lined with pine trees to keep you from going over the... edge.

OK. Now I will be patient and if someone does this five mile adventure, turn around and go down... tell us what you thought. Provide photographs. If you can do this, you are among the top 10% of Off the Grid Boondockers and the top 1% of Airstream owners overall.

Towing is a SKILL set. Anyone can tow a trailer, a boat and flat bed down the asphalt. Add some need for lopping off bushes, tree branches and planning how to get pass a small culvert in the road will add to this skill set.

If you stay 100% on asphalt towing your Airstream, that is a very wise decision and there is no disrespect intended. I am not my mother. I am my mother's son. She would have preferred to walk alongside the trailer during this five mile switchback to the asphalt highway below.

There are some Boondocking traveling posts that will 'add a sharper edge' to your skill set. This is not necessary for most. But, if you get some experience, it may be needed some day. Most experiences just dull the edge of your ability. SOME will give you the satisfaction knowing many impossible things can be possible, if you have the skill sets.

The line on a map is exactly that. A line. Even those who put lines on a map never drove on that road. Expect errors and omissions. This is a BIG Omission.

As they said about Mikey. "Try it, you may like it."
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:49 AM   #3
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Are you refering to Hwy 145 thru Dolores, Stoner and Rico?
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:10 PM   #4
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Are you refering to Hwy 145 thru Dolores, Stoner and Rico?
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Good question. No. That is the route I would recommend for anyone who wants to travel from Cortez, Dolores to the junction to Keystone on Highway 145 and then go East to Telluride which will eventually dead end once through town.

The turnoff of NFS 535 is before Stoner. On the State Map as 38. The route takes you just south of the Wilderness Area...

The excellent campsite is N37degrees47.09' and W108degrees04.26' at 9,066 elevation. There is a campground symbol just north of this spot. Near there is a 'hot spring' notated on the map at Dunton (ghost town?) a few miles south.

The five miles of Airstream Bliss... exits west of Forest Service Road 204. These details should get it narrowed down.

Anyone who is interested. Drive north to the campsite. Detach and complete the last part of the drive north to Highway 145. Top off your fuel at the intersection that goes East to Telluride. Return to the OTG Campsite and decide if you are going to return to Civilization by driving South back towards Cortez OR... tow your trailer the shorter distance I have described as... well, whatever you will call it when you post some photographs.

This 'drive' is like flying a small aircraft over the mountains and... run out of fuel. It is that... interesting to some. Not to all.
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:28 PM   #5
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Ray, Iím sorry to read about your camera card issue. I know you mentioned it was a spare and not the original card. You probably did this already but if not, make sure you format the card in the camera. I still have a Canon S45 that uses a CF card. Since upgraded to Panasonic LUMIX with dual SD slots.

By the way, you were talking about Yellowstone and the yahoos jumping out of their cars in front of you. Iíll bet you forgot your Trunk Monkey at home otherswise he would have taken care of them!
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jeffmc306 View Post
Ray, I’m sorry to read about your camera card issue. I know you mentioned it was a spare and not the original card. You probably did this already but if not, make sure you format the card in the camera. I still have a Canon S45 that uses a CF card. Since upgraded to Panasonic LUMIX with dual SD slots.

By the way, you were talking about Yellowstone and the yahoos jumping out of their cars in front of you. I’ll bet you forgot your Trunk Monkey at home otherswise he would have taken care of them!
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Anyone who found the Thread and Post with the Trunk Monkey... it really takes your mind off of "should I wear pants today... or not". Kind of thing. I cannot recall what post it was on, but sure will make someone's day.

The Trunk Monkey was needed traveling through Yellowstone Park ten days ago. The pure stupidity of many within a number of 'lost' photographs would be mind numbing to those who are courteous and have any self respect of themselves, none for others and exposing the family to moving traffic parked in the driving lane on curves.

The photographs were taken by Nancy as passenger through the windshield. I felt like a Combat Pilot dodging anti aircraft fire. If anyone googles Yellowstone National Park Deaths and Accidents... whoa. I am sure other National Parks are not much different.

I do not plan to return... ever. Well, maybe if I want to take some photos... with a Trunk Monkey on board!

The disc vendor sent a second card. Received it today. It also did not work. These had Made in China printed on one end and mine does not. Since the camera is old, maybe twenty years and still working excellent with the original card, did not have China printed on the end... obviously no longer compatible.

My modern Canon Camera... too many knobs, options and uses a lot of mega pixels for my shoot and RUN... kind of photography.

Three weeks of camping, maybe 80 photos of campsites and the four or five photos of this REAL 'surprise' on the Loop... was a photo Rich Luhr would have printed in his Airstream Life magazine.

These Off the Grid Boondocking sites are really, really difficult to find when they are nice and you take all the time you want camped. Most are unknown... until someone posts the GPS location... which I did for this as it is at the End of Civilized travel for an Airstream. But, we did it. It was not so bad AFTER getting back onto the Highway... but even for myself, the thought of someone coming UP and my going DOWN... you counted EACH mile as if your life depended on it.
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