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RE: Wolf Creek Pass vs. Coal Bank & Molas Passes

How does Wolf Creek Pass from South Fork to Durango compare to Coal Bank & Molas Passes from Durango to Silverton, CO? US 160 and Wolf Creek Pass tops out at ~10800 feet and is 3- and 4-lane roadway. It's nowhere near as bad as legend has it, or it was in the past. Yes, it's a steep pass on the west side, but it's not difficult and there are runaway truck ramps. 2 climb lanes on the eastbound side west of the summit, 2 lanes going down. 2 climb lanes westbound on the east side of the summit, 1 and 2 lanes going down. No shelf road to speak of, IIRC, there are guardrails all the way, and there are some cool pull offs for those photo ops. US 550, Coal Bank Pass (~10600 feet) and Molas Pass (~10900 feet), is 2 lane roadway all the way to Silerton. IMO, Coal Bank is "meh", is barely noticeable as Colorado Passes go. Molas has a nice overlook parking area, and there's an amazing campground north of the pass (seasonal). Neither are as daunting as their 3rd companion...Red Mountain Pass. That pass itself is not so bad, it's the portion from the summit north to Ouray that is the stuff of legends and much discussion on this and other message boards. Tight switchbacks, avalanche shoots and shelf road with no guardrails and steep drop offs. Yes, truckers and buses do it all the time...and they are professional drivers, accustomed to it. Experienced drivers can handle it.
Thom02099 01/22/20 06:28pm Roads and Routes
RE: Interstate 80 thru Wyoming and Nebraska

We are planning a trip to Nebraska, and Illinois this summer and I was wondering do I need to be overly concerned about winds thru Wyoming and eastern Nebraska. I know there are issues during the winter understandably. Has anyone else got information. Thanks in advance. Merrill WYOROAD.INFO is a must have website. Gives up to date road conditions and you can search specifically by route. Side bar menu allows you to select "Conditions by Route" and then select by highway number. If there is any sort of adverse weather, don't ignore it. When they are blowing the winds in Wyoming can be harsh. IF there are adverse wind conditions, find a good place to ride them out. The good news is that, on a normal day, the winds during the summer months will typically be out of the west/southwest, for a tail wind. The bad news is, coming back, they will be a head wind. The highest point on the I-80 system is just east of Laramie at ~9600 feet. It's all down hill to Nebraska from there and it's a rather gradual decrease in elevation all the way to the North Platte area, where you pick up the Platte River valley.
Thom02099 01/21/20 06:37am Roads and Routes
RE: North from Colorado to Mt Rushmore

Hi everyone, We’re taking I-25 north to Orin, then East on hwy 18 thru Lusk and Edgemont. Then onto 89 and 385 north thru Hill City. I would appreciate any info those highway conditions. Google maps looks pretty good, but some personal info always helps. Thanks to all, Bill Specific to the above....lonely. I'm in northern CO, have done that drive more than a few times. Some tips: Fuel up in Cheyenne. Gas/Diesel will be cheaper than in Colorado. and there's no fuel north of Cheyenne for quite a while. Used to be a place in Chugwater but no more. Next fuel is in Wheatland, some 70 miles north of Cheyenne. There's also a truck stop or 2 at Orin Junction. From Orin Jct to Lusk, there are some little "towns" (place names) but very little there, until you get to Lusk. If you need it, fuel up in Lusk. There's absolutely nothing north of Lusk on US 85 other than wide open Wyoming and it's big ranches. There's no cell service in that area, as is the case in a goodly sized portion of Wyoming. There's a rest area at Mule Creek Junction, where US 18 splits from US 85 but nothing else. Good place to stop and stretch a bit. There a goodly climb in elevation heading east from Mule Creek til you get to the SD/WY line. There's fuel in Edgemont. Nice drive once you reach where it flattens out (a relative term for the Black Hills area). Watch for the SD89 turn off, it always seems to sneak up on me :D Rolling terrain, some curves but a good drive all the way in to where you meet up with US 385 at Pringle, and on in the Custer. Hill City is an easy drive up from Custer. Early fall time frame should be a good time for this, but just be aware that it can still get a bit warm...or a bit cold. Did the drive from Lusk to Mule Jct one time when it was 105+ degrees all the way, then cooled to the 80s in Edgemont. ETA: As an alternative, you could take US 85/exit 17 on I-25 in Cheyenne northeast to Torrington, then west on US 26 to Fort Laramie, which is, in my opinion, an underrated attraction and historical site, worth spending some time there learning about the history of that part of Wyoming. Double back to Lingle and pick up US 85 north to Lusk. I've enjoyed that part of the drive more than the part from Orin Jct to Lusk. Whichever way you go, have a great trip!
Thom02099 01/15/20 06:51pm Roads and Routes
RE: Sacramento to South Carolina

Was thinking 50 to 95 south to Vegas 40 to S.C. Any other suggestions? Trying to avoid too many mountains. What time of year? What part of SC? Getting down to I-10 and taking it all the way across or picking up I-20 would be one of the flattest ways you could go and, if you're planning on doing it within the next 3 months, would likely have more advantageous weather and road conditions. Do you need to "get there" or can you meander some?
Thom02099 01/07/20 06:37pm Roads and Routes
RE: So California to Creede CO

Good info to add would be what type and size RV you will be traveling in. And if you have any problem driving on mountain roads and associated heights and altitudes. Also important...when in the Spring? That part of Colorado was having huge snows around Memorial Day 2019.
Thom02099 01/02/20 05:51pm Roads and Routes
RE: Visiting Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton Ntl Pk,s

All excellent responses to your question. Another recommendation to go in September versus May/June. Out here in the Rockies, we also have mud season, which corresponds with May/June and in to July depending on elevation. Mud season is that time when the snow is melting, sometimes rapidly, and there is mud everywhere. This is particularly true of NP/USFS campgrounds, where there will be snow on the ground in May/June. Commercial CG/RV parks cope with it better, so it won't be as bad in those locales. Tracking in mud inside one's trailer/RV can be a chore, so leave shoes/boots somewhere outside, easily accessible. Mud season will also cause many trails/hikes to not really be doable, much less pleasant. September will be more pleasant, as the trails/CGs have had all summer to dry out. Yes, September can see snow, but early in the season it is frequently light and fluffy vs heavy and wet. And it usually melts quickly in early September.
Thom02099 12/29/19 08:58am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: RV sites recommendations around Mesa Verde NP in May

Stay in the park! There are about 15 full hookup sites. Just reserve early. ^^^^^ This. Morefield Campground in the park is highly recommended if you really want to have the full experience of Mesa Verde. H E R E - Mesa Verde is the link for the camping information, and H E R E - MV Map is a map for Mesa Verde. You will definitely need reservations for Morefield, so make them early. They use the 180 day window for reservations IIRC. Stayed there in October 2017, in a FHU site in Morefield. Senior Discount for getting in the park, but no discount at Morefield. $50/night for FHU as I recall. Here are some things I learned. As previously recommended, stop at the Visitors Center and if you want to go on a tour, that's the place to be. Just make sure you get there before they close, which was around 4:30 when I was there. They can also advise you what specific tours will be available (read as open due to weather or other restrictions). IIRC, you can also get tickets at the Chapin Mesa Museum. The best places to visit require the tour tickets. Distances in the park are deceiving. It's 4 miles from the Visitors Center to Morefield, and another 11 miles to the Farview Lodge area. Another 5 miles to the major cliff dwelling areas, with 2 loops that are each 6 miles in distance. And that's all just on the Chapin Mesa, the "lower" of the 2 mesas. There's also Wetherill Mesa, the "upper" of the mesas, and it's another 12 miles to the cliff dwellings. Fuel. There's fuel in the park. It was outrageously expensive when I was there. Depending on the direction you're coming from, fill up in either Cortez or Mancos. The fuel just outside the park is also as ridiculous in price. .50 to $1 more/gallon at these than it was in Cortez. Time. Give yourself plenty of time. There are plenty of photo ops, and a variety of hikes if that interests you. You can easily spend 3-4 days there and still have things to see and do. Weather. Late Winter/early Spring this past year saw some record snowfalls in that area, from 800% to 1200% above normal. We had major snows around Memorial Day in northern Colorado, and they had even more down there, so consider your timing and keep an eye on late season storms.
Thom02099 12/11/19 06:29pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Ouray, CO- Ouray RV Park and Ouray KOA-Recommendations

Hi folks, Planning to visit Ouray, CO in mid to late May/early June 2020 and thinking about booking either the Ouray RV Park or Ouray KOA campgrounds for a week or two for some off ride driving on the old mining roads. I’m leaning towards Ouray RV Park as my choice as the KOA appears to have most sites very close together and more expensive. Looking to see if anyone has stayed at either and your opinions. I’d be reserving a full hookup 30 amp site for a travel trailer. Thanks! Given your timeline, something to be aware of is that many of the OHV/Jeep trails in the area, particularly at higher elevation, will likely still be snowed in. And if the upcoming winter is anything like this past one, it could be July before some of those trails open. Something to consider, and perhaps have a Plan B for a different location.
Thom02099 12/08/19 06:44pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Flattest routes from GA To Nashville,TN

I’m interested in the flattest routes from GA to Nashville with my trailer. A friend drove me from ga to tn once, and went through some pretty unnerving terrain Assuming somewhere in the greater Atlanta area, head west on I-20 to Anniston AL, then take US 431 from Anniston to Gadsden and on to Huntsville, and pick up I-65 NW of Huntsville. I grew up in that area, US 431 has always been a great alternative to the I's. Not much in the way of hills, certainly not mountains to speak of.
Thom02099 11/30/19 06:20pm Roads and Routes
RE: YNP to add cell phone access at Canyon Village

Improved cell phone service would certainly make it easier to report "bad behaviour" to the NPS Rangers. I'm sure many of the vids that have made it here and on YouTube were in locations that may have had poor/spotty service and/or minimal Ranger presence. Personally, don't care about internet service in any of the National Parks.
Thom02099 11/24/19 05:52pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Estes park colorado

There is a new RV park in Granby, near Grand Lake on the "back" side of RMNP. Called River Run RV Resort. It just opened this year so we haven't stayed there, but looks really nice if you're into the "KOA" type park... restaurant, activities, etc. It's pricey though, but for a brand new, nice park, well, you get what you pay for. We looked into a seasonal spot there but it was $$$. This could be a game changer for north central Colorado. Looks like they are taking on Tiger Run Resort in Breck, but with more to offer. H E R E - River Run is a link to their main page; they are a Sun RV Resort, and H E R E - Memorial Day 2020 Pricing is what Memorial Day weekend would cost you. There must be a market for this, or they would not have done it. I can't think of anywhere other than Tiger Run that would be competition for them at this level. Though it really doesn't appeal to me in general, it could be interesting to try it out, and it certainly is in a good location, and a viable alternative to anything Estes Park has to offer, and not too far off the pricing mark, for what you get.
Thom02099 11/14/19 12:15pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Estes park colorado

What I like about Estes Park is that, if you want to do the "touristy" stuff, and take a walk around downtown you can. Besides the shops there, usually there's some sort of art festival going on, which can be entertaining. And of course Trail Ridge Road is a requirement. In 2019 it didn't open until a couple weekends after Memorial Day due to late season snows, and Old Fall River Road didn't open until July. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts for the time you plan to be out here. If it's later in the season, shouldn't be a problem. There are other, less traveled/fewer tourist areas. The Wild Basin Entrance to the park is lesser known, popular with us locals, but most tourists don't know about it. Some great hikes from that entrance, just as good as the hikes around the Bear Lake area. Further south from RMNP there's also the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, and specifically the Brainard Lake area. Some magnificent hikes in this area as well; the vistas alone are worth it. Plan on snow on the ground there into July. Further south, all along the Peak to Peak Highway, are great FS access points for wonderful hikes. Rainbow lakes is one of them, the lakes are isolated, and there are trails that lead into the higher elevations above the City of Boulder watershed. Outside of Nederland, there's access to one of my favourites, the 4th of July CG and the hike to Arapaho Pass. It's a challenge due to elevation, but well worth it once up to the top of the pass. All this can be done from Estes Park as a day trip. So Estes Park is not necessarily "just" about Estes Park.
Thom02099 11/10/19 04:20pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Estes park colorado

Which campground with full hookups would you recommend around Estes Park Pulling a 26 footer Travel trailer Been looking on line and not that many good choices Thank you To specifically answer your question, there are about a half dozen RV parks in Estes Park. And Estes Park is a very popular destination for RVers during the season, as the parks are usually reserved well in advance, and also late in the October Elk rutting season. Estes Park Campground at Mary's Lake is owned by the town of Estes Park Recreation and Park Department. They have FHU, W/E only and no hookup sites. The FHU are the typical in a line type sites with not a lot of space between site. The W/E sites are all back in and these are the ones I prefer when I stay there. They have a dump station on site as well. They are also the cheapest of the commercial RV parks in Estes Park at $47/night for FHU. Estes Park also administers another campground at East Portal, but it's primarily for smaller rigs -- popups and tents. Elk Meadow RV Resort is right at the entrance to RMNP. It is on a sloping hill, but has pretty good sites, a mix of back in and pull thru sites. Restrooms have always been very clean and well cared for. If you can get a site on the south side, you'll have an unobstructed view of Longs Peak, the highest point in RMNP. Elk Meadow in not cheap. Last time I stayed there was $61/night with discount, and now I think they are over $70/night. Their electricity was a bit quirky the last time I was there (pedestals were misaligned from the site they actually served), hopefully that's been resolved. Added plus the very real probability of elk walking/grazing thru the park. Their companion park is Spruce Lake RV Park which is fairly close to Elk Meadow. Also a fairly nice park, all back in sites, getting one by the river gives the added pleasure of the sounds of rushng water, if you're into that sort of relaxation. It's a bit tighter than Elk Meadow, and is just as expensive. Paradise on the River RV Park is a quaint little park that is right on the river. It's also hard to get into, and is usually reserved a year in advance if not longer. Getting a spot here is probably the most difficult in Estes Park. Manor RV Park is right next door to Spruce Lake and looks to be very nice. I have not stayed there, it looks to be pretty tight to get in there, but it does get pretty good reviews. Also not cheap, seems their prices vary from $60s-$70s/night. Unlike all of the above RV Parks, the KOA in Estes Park is on US34 coming in to Estes Park, and is on a hillside on this very busy road. The sites can be tight. Prices seem to vary, presumably based on rig. About 7 miles outside of town, there is Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park. Another park on a hillside, the sites seem to be a bit random and pricing seems haphazard, according to reviewers. Another one I have not stayed at, it just doesn't appeal to me at all. IF you could do a few days without hookups inside RMNP, I would strongly encourage it. That is now where I spend most of my time, camping in either Moraine Park or Glacier Basin. Both have very distinct appeals. In Moraine Park, B loop is preferable, in Glacier Basin, D loop is the preference, at least for me. Best views, and most likely have deer and elk wander through your site. IF you haven't checked it already, H E R E - campgroundreviews.com is the link for reviews of all parks in the area, including parks in Drake and Loveland, along with USFS/RMNP CG. On the west side of the Park, by Grand Lake, there are 2 commercial campgrounds -- Winding River Resort and Elk Creek Campground. Both have FHU availability, or just W/E hookups. Of the 2 I prefer Winding River. It has an authentic western feel to it, and the FHU sites are isolated at the far end of the property.
Thom02099 11/09/19 10:06am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: South Dakota, July 2020

Driving from the PNW we'll make Devil's Tower and Deadwood a 1-2 day stop one way or the other, eh? Yes we'd enjoy hiking around base of the Tower. So maybe the rest we can base out of Custer SP or similar? At Rushmore I understand there is some hiking you can do just out of the memorial itself which gives unique views and is very uncrowded. Since you are in to hiking, a must do would be Black Elk Peak, formerly Harney Peak, which is the highest point (at 7244ft) in South Dakota. It's not a difficult hike and well worth it for the vistas when you get to the summit. This could consume a goodly portion of a day. There are various accesses, so a query of Black Elk Peak will give you several choices. One of the hikes starts at about 6200ft with an elevation gain of about 1100 feet in 3.5 miles. There's also a loop trail hike.
Thom02099 11/04/19 05:37pm Roads and Routes
RE: Colorado campground for next summer

Thank you everyone for the responses. I am also looking at Westcliffe if anyone has any info. on that area and RV parks H E R E - Westcliffe is the link to reviews for campgrounds/RV parks in that area. Note that there are several RV parks to choose from, in addition to USFS CG. The views from the valley looking west are incredible, from just about anywhere in the valley.
Thom02099 11/04/19 03:24pm RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Colorado campground for next summer

First, the search. As pointed out above, use campgroundreviews.com for your search. Buena Vista is in the Upper Arkansas Valley, so also consider from Salida to Leadville and points in between. There's quite a number of commercial campgrounds that could fit what you're looking for. Sounds like you're not really interested in USFS CG, and there are a plethora of those around that area. When you find one that suits your needs, make reservations early, as the Upper Arkansas is a popular area. As to getting there, you CAN get there without substantial climbs, by taking US 50 west from Canon City. It's twisty/curvy and some ups/downs, but by no means any substantial climbs. Takes you right to Salida and on to Poncha Springs, where you can pick up US 285 which will get you into the heart of the Valley.
Thom02099 10/30/19 05:55am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: Clickbait truck ads

They ought to pay you 30k to buy that thing ^^^^^ THIS! These trucks are F-u-g-l-y
Thom02099 10/20/19 06:26pm Tow Vehicles
RE: Texas to Ridgway CO late November

Possibly I might be crazy, but thinking of Ridgway CO during Thanksgiving week. 287 to Amarillo 87 to Raton NM, I-25 then 50 across to Montrose. Weather wise, is it a big gamble this time of year? Need a campground that has electricity cause we'd be going in a pop-up and need to be able to run a couple of space heaters. We've been to the state park there before...in the summer. Will use their bathroom and shower facilities. Any thoughts.... That route is probably the best to consider, given the time of year. Even with snow. Two passes -- Raton and Monarch -- to contend with, but both are well maintained during winter/snow months. Yes, it can be something of a gamble, but the good news is that November is not one of the snowiest months in Colorado. But the weather/temps can change rapidly. As to where to stay, the State Park could be a good bet, since it is open all year. HOWEVER, keep in mind that Ridgway SP is now a RESERVATION ONLY park, and that appears to be applicable during the off season months beyond October. There are 20 RV sites available. H E R E - Ridgway SP is the link to the CPW website for Ridgway. Also, appears that some of the facilities may be limited. Might want to check out campgroundreviews.com for other alternatives. There's some campground/RV parks that are open all year. Looks like the KOA in Ouray is open year round, and that's a highly rated park.
Thom02099 10/17/19 07:02am Roads and Routes
RE: Push to privatize National Park Service campgrounds

I don't know what the original motivation was when the rules/laws were made to allow for a discount for senior citizens to enter National Parks (and by extension, use of USFS campgrounds). But I can speculate -- Respect. Respect to our seniors who, in many cases are "the greatest generation". In many cases survivors of one and (earlier) two World Wars and the "conflicts" in Korea and Vietnam. The generation who's women worked tirelessly in factories during those wars. The generation who rebuilt and retooled this country after wars. Just as we show respect for our veterans of all foreign wars/conflicts with discounts on services, this (senior pass) small discount to our seniors is also a way to show respect for their service, even if they were not in the military serving our country. Service can take many forms. Living through trying times is one of them. Honour our elders, even if we are now one of them. Never forget. Thank you to ALL for your service to our country.
Thom02099 10/13/19 09:29am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
RE: South Dakota Advice

OP here. Thanks for the responses, keep them coming! We've researched the sights in the area, and have read about the "usual suspects". Any off-the-beaten-path ideas? If you're into hiking, there's a great hike to Black Elk Peak, formerly Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota, at over 7200 feet. Not overly long or difficult, the views are incredible from the top.
Thom02099 09/16/19 10:06am RV Parks, Campgrounds and Attractions
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