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Post Info TOPIC: Monarch Pass CO


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Monarch Pass CO


connie and I are driving US-50 this summer and it looks like we will be going over Monarch Pass right around May 31. The grade is 6.4 according to the state of CO...and looking at the weather averages for the pass it’s a high of 42 in May and 57 in June...so figure around 50 at the end of May. 

Gradeeise it’s slightly steeper (0.4 degrees) than Eisenhower farther north...but with the 5500HD pulling the rig I’m not really concerned with the grade. 

However...it’s a 2 pane road over the pass probably... but that late there should be no snow or ice on the road. 

Is there any real reason not to go that way and head up to I-70 to go over Eisenhower instead?



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Did it last summer. Beautiful drive.

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Winnebago TT 2101DS & Tahoe LTZ, 300 watts WindyNation solar-parallel w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state/county campgrounds. 14 year Army vet-11B40 then 11A - old MOS 1542 & 1560.



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Thanks Larry…we used to live right of US-50 in northern VA and always wanted to drive the length of it…so we're doing it this year heading west from KC first then coming back east on US-20 out of OR then down to KC and finish the drive back to the east coast which puts us right near the grandkid towards the end of travel season for a visit.

I'll obviously pay attention to the weather as snow is always possible over the passes in CO…and my research indicated that it's just fine but figured I would get a second opinion (or third) of somebody who's actually driven over it. Ed Harrington (fellow NH owner) emailed me offline and concurred that it's just fine. Grade-wise…we've always found the passes out west to be easier than back east. They're longer of course as the mountains are higher but the average grade up and down doesn't get much above 8% and may are in the 6% range…although there are some exceptions of course. We've been on a lot more double digit grade passes in the northeast US and the Smokies than anywhere else except maybe on our Alaska trip…and even then I only recall a couple that were more than 10%. We've been across 70 through Eisenhower tunnels and although that's a nice drive it's (a) out of the way since we're trying to stay on US-50 and (b) it's not on US-50.

There is one section going through the Smokies back east that we're going to bypass…although the grades aren't too bad it's just too many curves and switchbacks to really be RV-worthy with a 40 footer in tow…so we'll skip around that part on I-64 as we head back east and if time allows we'll probably do an overnighter in a hotel with just the car to officially cover those miles.



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Neil, look for an abandoned mine on the left side of the highway and across the river about 30 miles outside of Pueblo. If the light is right a picture taking bonanza! Its always about the light.

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Winnebago TT 2101DS & Tahoe LTZ, 300 watts WindyNation solar-parallel w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state/county campgrounds. 14 year Army vet-11B40 then 11A - old MOS 1542 & 1560.



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LarryW21 wrote:

Neil, look for an abandoned mine on the left side of the highway and across the river about 30 miles outside of Pueblo. If the light is right a picture taking bonanza! Its always about the light.


 East or west of Pueblo?  North or south side of Highway 50?

We've driven that road many times over the years and I've never seen a mine.

But, also off of Highway 50 and just west of Granada, CO, there is a dirt road going up to the Amache Japanese Internment Camp.  While most of what is there is just foundations, they have reconstructed a barracks, the water tower, a guard tower, and there is a nice cemetery on the site.

Terry



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Neil & Connie,

We drove Monarch Pass with our fifth wheel in early May of 2013 ... in a light snow. The road was covered in snow in the morning, but it was dry by the time we got to the top. I made sure we checked the forecast and the DOT webcam at the pass.

We drove west to east, and in that direction there is a passing lane for the last seven miles to the summit. Unfortunately, you don't have that luxury approaching from the east.

You have more power than we did at the time, so I don't think the grade will be an issue for you. As I mentioned, the Colorado DOT does have a webcam on the pass, so you can check the conditions before you start your ascent just to be sure as there could be snow at that time of year.

Just do a final check on the conditions, and you should be fine.

 

 

 



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Thanks Larry…we'll keep an eye out for it.

 



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Thanks Howard…that was our plan…check the web cam, forecast, and I'm sure there's a web page with summit conditions. If it's bad weather…we'll either delay a day or two if need be or alternatively head up around Denver and over 70…although if the weather on 50 is bad the weather on 70 probably won't be any better. I didn't look at it super closely yet…but those appear to be the only two good routes over the Rockies at that point, looking south all I saw was 3 number state roads and those typically aren't really rig worthy.

We'll be in Canon City before heading over the pass and going to Gunnison…hopefully the weather will cooperate as the long way 'round 70 is a much longer way to get there.



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You might also check out Hwy 114 - heads down to Saguache and you can go down and around to Walsenburg or keep going south. It isn't doesn't go as high ad Monarch pPass. My dad would pull his trailer that route rather than Monarch Pass, plus it is a nice drive as well.

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I will check that out for a possible alternate as well. Thanks. 



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Neil,

The highway going west through Walsenburg, CO is Highway 160.  It goes on west and over La Veta Pass (not a biggie) and then on to and over Wolf Creek Pass (more of an issue there.)  However if conditions aren't right for Monarch or further north, Highway 160 is pretty good.  Beyond Wolf Creek Pass is Pagosa Springs, Durango and on west to Cortez.  No real passes that I remember past Wolf Creek.

Cortez also gives one an opportunity to see Mesa Verde, if one is into the cliff dwelling interests.

Terry



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Thanks Terry...although that gets us a little too far west but I will add it to our alternate routes possibilities. If it was late June then the chance of snow at Monarch is probably getting pretty low but at the end of May it’s going to be slightly higher...hence my making sure I have thought about potential alternate routes. 

Pour goal for the summer is to stay on US-50 to the west coast and we need to get up to Gunnison for the national park there. 

We were in Mesa Verde 2 years back and it’s one of our undiscovered gems...way off the beaten track and even in late June the crowds just were not there. We especially liked the original road into the park...it’s now a hiking trail and I could not really imagine cars going over it back in the 1920s. Really outstanding park though. 



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