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Old 09-12-2020, 10:31 AM   #1
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Hartsburg , Missouri
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Best route going west in Colorado

We are considering a last minute trip to the Arkansas River headwaters area near Leadville Colorado. We'll be headed west in I70 but then have the option of taking I70 west of Limon, through Denever and into the mountains or taking Highway 24 west of Limon, through Colorado Springs and into the mountains? Any suggestions?
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Old 09-12-2020, 11:21 AM   #2
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Oh... goodie goodie... MY suggestion.

- Take I-70 through Denver up into the mountains to the WEST.

- Take Highway 91 west of Frisco and go SOUTH to Leadville.

- Leaving Leadville, go SOUTH on Highway 24 through Buena Vista, look at all of the 14,000+ peaks to the West. Ahhhh, fresh Snow by the time you get there on their Peaks.

- Take Highway 285 when to get to the Junction of Highway 24/285 at Johnson Village to Poncha Springs and EAST on Highway 50 to the Royal Gorge (visit and walk across) We use to be able to drive without a trailer years ago, then Canon City and at Penrose, Highway 115 to Colorado Springs.

Watch the weather reports. Snow IN the mountains should be expected. When the report is Snow in Buena Vista... change your plans. Unless you brought Cross Country Skis with you.

Have fun. Monarch Pass is an 'eye opener' at 11,312 feet dry, wet or snow. Only one of the many high passes in this part of Colorado to excite the family members still riding with you.

If you are bored, do Highway 550 from Durango / Silverton to Ouray.
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Old 09-12-2020, 11:36 AM   #3
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Stay away from I70 west of Denver on or near the weekends.
Take C470 to Hwy285 then turn right at Johnson's Village on Hwy 24.
Once you clear the Conifer area it will be smooth sailing.
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Old 09-13-2020, 07:00 AM   #4
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Thanks for those suggestions! --Frank
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Old 09-13-2020, 07:05 AM   #5
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I-70 has been hideous this year on the weekends. And yes, we’ve already had snow in the mountains. We had about 6” at my house last week. If you can avoid I-70 west on the weekend, then it’s no problem and it’s the way I’d go.

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Old 09-13-2020, 09:31 AM   #6
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I'd suggest traveling during the week and hunkering down on the weekends, no matter what the route. Much less stress ....

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Old 09-13-2020, 09:44 AM   #7
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Colorado is closed! Well... it's not *quite* that bad, but the wildfires have been wreaking havoc, so be sure to check with cdot for up to the minute road closures. 70 was closed at Glenwood Springs for quite some time. Last week it was a hundred degrees and raining ash in my front yard; I couldn't see the houses across the street for the thick smoke (not kidding, real Biblical "end of days" type stuff). Then it snowed for two days (temp dropped *60* degrees in 18 hours) and now it's beautiful again (sunny and 70), but I'm not sure what's going on with the fires at this point.
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Old 09-13-2020, 10:50 AM   #8
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Talking Serendipity and the I-70 Parking Lot

Originally from FL, Ive been all up and down the eastern seaboard and I75/65 corridor but never in the NxNW even after living in SoCal since '80.
So I did a recon mission commencing July 2, got into Moab for July 4 weekend then left 7/5 for Denver.
A "recon mission" for me is to scope out routes and camp areas before hooking up the "house", in my F150 7700 with (well feathered) camper shell.

If you have a sense of adventure (and an open schedule), dig this- Sunday July 5, lv Moab around noon and head for Denver on 70 E. Sure enough, even E-bound I-70 east ps.
I consult Google maps and don't see another parallel/alternate route but I get off on 82 anyway... just to see where it goes (it helps not to tied to a schedule as long as I get to Denver... some day). And that's how I discovered Aspen, the Monaco of the mountains except instead of yachts, they have private jets! (Dozens of them at the airport, an incredible display of wealth), then over the continental divide at 12k feet elev.
Nice surprises, both.
Made a left on 24 NB through Leadville, back to I-70 then on to Denver for the night (about 11 ish)

Moral of story - Sometimes a jacked I-70 can take you to places you didn't think about :-)
Ive only heard about Aspen. Never planned to go there, but glad I did!

note: consulting Google maps for memory purposes, that stretch of 70 is STILL red. hmmm...

Bon Voyage
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Old 09-13-2020, 04:37 PM   #9
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Hwy 82

Highway 82 between Aspen and Leadville is a beautiful drive. Donít plan on pulling your trailer though. It has a 35ft total length restriction and is so narrow in spots there is no centerline. If you take I-70 west through Vail and turn south on Hwy 24 you pass right by Camp Hale, the birth place of the 10th Mountain Division.
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Old 09-13-2020, 05:01 PM   #10
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Colorado native here. I'd recommend avoiding I-70 through the mountains, if at all possible. On weekends, it tends to turn into a parking lot, especially this time of year when everyone is "leaf-peeping" the aspens.
Your plan of taking Hwy 24 at Limon, and just continuing on through Colo Spgs makes a lot of sense, and it's a beautiful route. If you time it right, you can stay at Mueller State Park, about 30 miles west of Colo Spgs. From there, you have an unobstructed view of Pikes Peak, all decked out in aspen-gold and likely capped with snow. Then the next day, you continue west on 24, hang a right where 285 splits off to the south, and head north along the Arkansas River directly into Leadville.
I agree with someone above that, if you can leave your trailer in Leadville, Independence Pass is well worth it, especially in fall. You would have to backtrack about 15 miles to Twin Lakes, then take Hwy 82 over the pass to Aspen, CO. The most beautiful place on the planet, IMO.
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Old 09-13-2020, 06:30 PM   #11
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Another Colorado resident. 2x daytripper. We are headed that way this next weekend.
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Old 09-14-2020, 12:08 PM   #12
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US 285,
Saw a big bull moose there a couple weeks go.
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:09 AM   #13
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Onward to Leadville

Heartily agree to taking Hwy 24 at Limon, and just continuing on through Colo Spgs. I have traveled both routes and while Hwy 24 is two lane it is scenic and much more relaxing. Enjoy the trip but won't you miss the pumpkin fest?
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Old 09-20-2020, 10:28 AM   #14
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Another vote for 24 from Limon. I70 is a pain when it's relatively good - and that's very rare these days.
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Old 09-20-2020, 11:34 AM   #15
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The fire along I 70 at the Glenwood Canyon is contained and not a problem. If there is significant moisture the road may close due to rockslides. I would take I 70 on a non weekend day and leave the opposite way. Mueller state park has been almost full even during the week. White Star near Leadville is nice. The city of Leadville has a dump station and potable water in town. Minimal fee. I think 5$ to dump and less to fill with water.
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Old 09-20-2020, 12:03 PM   #16
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What TG Twinkle said...we live right on Hwy 285 south of Buena Vista...take 24 across the state, through Co Springs to Johnson Village. Turn R (N) to Leadville or S to this beautiful valley! Weather is terrific!! Be safe and have fun!
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