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Post Info TOPIC: Colorado hwy 550


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Colorado hwy 550


Good Sam's travel planner put us on Colorado 50 then to 550 from Grand Junction, CO to Aztec, NM.  Has anyone run this route?  Opinions?



-- Edited by RonC on Friday 5th of August 2016 05:45:37 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Friday 5th of August 2016 05:49:34 PM

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We rode it 3 times in 1 day...... on our Harley. And even though I know it can be done in a motorhome I will be shying away from it during our visit this month. And I'm used to mountain driving. Just my 2 cents.

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I have been over it many times starting back in 1978 or so. The million dollar highway part (Red Mountain Pass) has some tight switch backs but sometime in the last years the really tight ones - 5 mph - have been upgraded to higher speeds.
Before that I would not have wanted to drive a motor home over it. I probably would be okay with it now but I suspect I wouldn't see much of the scenery - be way too busy watching the road.
Note that 40 ft motor homes towing cars and 18 wheelers go over it. It's all a matter of your comfort zone.

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So what I think I'm hearing is that this is going to be a slow and challenging drive.

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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 K-Z Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides) 24,830 lbs CGVW

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That is a good way to put it I think. It is a not very wide two lane road with no guard rails and a several hundred foot drop in many places.
Beautiful drive though.

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Clay (WA5NMR), Lee (wife), Katie, Kelli (cats) Full timed for eleven years in a 2004 Sightseer 35N. Snowbirds for one winter and now settled down in CO.



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OK ... I'm going the long way around ... no guard rails seals the deal for me! I'd love the drive, but not with a fifth wheel following me. Glad I asked!

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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 K-Z Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides) 24,830 lbs CGVW

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R12


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Both 50 from Grand Junction and 550 are truck routes and are really no problem for a fifth wheel. These routes are marked in orange in the Truck Atlas and big trucks regularly use these routes because they are considered safe for big trucks with no obstructions. You probably have seldom bounced off of a guard rail so the lack of them is a non issue. The road is wide enough for your fiver. The downhills have to be done in a lower gear and there is plenty of warning before turns to slow down. Take your time and enjoy one of the nicest drives in the USA.

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I guess my comfort (confidence) level is lower than some ... I'm pretty sure CO 550 will be uncomfortable for most RV'ers. I don't believe it is a "trucker route". My Garmin Dezel (a truck oriented GPS) suggested a different route to Aztec, NM (I70 W then 190 south to 491 to 160) ... still challenging, but not scary. I'll drive 550 someday, but not with a big 5th wheel behind me. But hey ... that's just my HO.

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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

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RonC wrote:

I guess my comfort (confidence) level is lower than some ... I'm pretty sure CO 550 will be uncomfortable for most RV'ers. I don't believe it is a "trucker route". My Garmin Dezel (a truck oriented GPS) suggested a different route to Aztec, NM (I70 W then 190 south to 491 to 160) ... still challenging, but not scary. I'll drive 550 someday, but not with a big 5th wheel behind me. But hey ... that's just my HO.


 Ron, if y'all need a place to stop in Grand Junction, we have a water/30 amp rv hookup in our side yard (subject to availability). We have friends coming in for a week on the 4th of Sep. But no one else for a while. We live in Palisade (abuts Grand Junction/Clifton) a couple of miles off I 70 exit 42. It sounds like you are bypassing us though.



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Clay, we were in Palisade end of June.  Just before the peaches came ripe!  Love that cute little town.  Now were down in Montrose getting ready to head to Silverton and Husband is also worried about driving our 40' 5er over 550.  We still aren't sure which way we'll be going, but good to hear that others are fine out there driving it.  He's great with mountains he's more concerned with how many really steep downgrades there are.



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Clay ... what a gracious offer!  Unfortunately, I didn't see your post soon enough.  Hard to stay "connected" when we're on the move.  We're in Aztec, NM now and generally headed toward Texas.  Next time we're headed that way we'll give you a shout.  Thanks!!



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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 K-Z Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides) 24,830 lbs CGVW

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We're in Ouray, headed tomorrow to Cortez, and I asked about US 550 from here to Durango on the Facebook RV Roads and Routes group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/RVRoadsAndRoutes/). Option 2 is to go through Telluride on CO 62 and 145.

Although a couple people said it could be done, most recommended against it. The most pithy advice was, "You'll do far less laundry with Option 2." I thought that was pretty funny!

Our neighbor in the park here in Ouray has a fiver almost as large as ours. He's from somewhere else in Colorado. He said there is absolutely no way would take his rig on US 550 from here to Durango.

The Mountain Directory West says about Red Mountain Pass, on US 550 between Ouray and Silverton: "This is not a designated truck route and if you have driven it you will understand why. Truckers should go into Ouray from the north and Silverton from the south. Motorhome and RV drivers may want to take this road but should be advised to use caution." [emphasis theirs] It goes into detail about the grades and tight turns. That plus the advice I got from others convinced me to go the long way around.



-- Edited by David and Cheryl on Thursday 11th of August 2016 08:37:44 PM

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We just finished a few days in Durango and went for a drive to Ouray. We did pass a couple 18 wheelers and did see one motorhome around 42' pulling a Jeep but had one long line of traffic behind him and finally found a place to turn out. It's just a couple of the areas that have absolutely Zer0, nada, no road past the white line on a couple corners that would bother me if meeting a large rig from the other direction. My wife took a picture of a 18 wheeler in front of us on such a section and it tells the story that words can not.


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We also drove from Ouray to Silverton today to check it out.  While there were a couple of spots like you mentioned, Dave, just past Ouray, I didn't think it was that bad.  Today is Saturday and there wasn't much traffic.  If we drive it during a week day, we don't think it'll be that bad.  The road is visible enough on those spots that you can take up both lanes and stay plenty away from the edge.  I did notice several pull outs along the way too.

We will be in Ridgway for a few days starting tomorrow, then Ouray for a couple weeks and Silverton for a couple weeks.  Where are you guys now?



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DebbieM wrote:

We also drove from Ouray to Silverton today to check it out.  While there were a couple of spots like you mentioned, Dave, just past Ouray, I didn't think it was that bad.  Today is Saturday and there wasn't much traffic.  If we drive it during a week day, we don't think it'll be that bad.  The road is visible enough on those spots that you can take up both lanes and stay plenty away from the edge.  I did notice several pull outs along the way too.

We will be in Ridgway for a few days starting tomorrow, then Ouray for a couple weeks and Silverton for a couple weeks.  Where are you guys now?


  I think it might be a little different in a 5th wheel than a MH also, pivot points are a little different. Like I said, I'd drive it in the motorhome but had no need.

We have moved on and are in Ignacia Colorado now and will move to Pagosa Springs in a week, then probably Creede I'm thinking. 



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I have driven 550 several times between Ouray and Silverton/Durango, always in non winter conditions.  The only time I have driven it with a trailer (26' bumper pull TT) was last August.  I think the scariness is way overrated.  First, the scary part isn't very long, maybe 15 miles? (maybe more, but not a lot).  It is one of the most beautiful drives in the West, and if you take it at an appropriate speed, it just doesn't seem that bad.  My wife was worried about it, having very little experience with "scary" drives, but afterward she didn't see why it was considered such a big deal.  I don't remember there being difficult downgrades either.

I realize everyone has their own tolerance level for such things, and that the OP has already bypassed this route, but I wanted to throw in my $.02 for any others who might be considering the drive.  Keep in mind that there can be snow quite often in March, April and even later in these parts, but it usually melts quickly this time of year.

Also, someone mentioned a guide recommended going "through Telluride" as an alternative.  Visiting Telluride is a great side trip, but it is at the end of a box canyon.  The only way to get anywhere by going through Telluride is via one of the worst 4-wheel drive roads in Colorado! (there are two such roads leading into the town)



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