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 > Grand Lake, CO from the west

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rmnpcolorado

Madison, WI

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Posted: 02/23/20 02:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We will be in Grand Lake, CO/west side of RMNP this summer, coming from Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. What is the easiest way in to Grand Lake? We're towing a 25' travel trailer that will make the truck work as we wind through Colorado. I'm no stranger to mountain driving, and have come in to Grand Lake via Winter Park and Berthoud Pass (without towing) numerous times.

On the flip side, what is the easiest way out ultimately heading east and home? I'm comfortable with Trail Ridge Road, but again, have never towed a trailer up and over.

The way I see it, there are three options heading out: Trail Ridge up and over through Rocky (my wife is not keen on that), Highway 40 via Berthoud Pass (not sure I'M keen on that) south to I-70, or 125/127 north up to Laramie, WY (I don't know this route at all). Primarily thinking grades and pulls.

A little background, a couple years ago we took our rig from Mueller State Park west to Durango and the San Juans via Wolf Creek Pass, so I'm comfortable towing in the mountains. I just don't know what that 125/127 route is like. Thanks!


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ppine

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Posted: 02/23/20 02:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The roads are not that bad. Colorado is the hardest state to drive in. Some people should probably drive around it. If you are not one of those, stay on the main roads and pay attention.

agesilaus

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Posted: 02/23/20 04:02pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I don't know how you get to Grand Lake which is on the west side of RMNP by going thru the park and over Trail Ridge. It's either east on I70 then north on 40. Or Catch 40 in the west and go east on that. We did I-70 but we were coming from the east. We left on 125 and 127 into WY. I don't recall any killer grades that way but I am not sensitive to those.


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Thunder Mountain

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Posted: 02/23/20 06:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

40 year resident of Colorado and RVer since 2003. Not many roads we haven't been on in the mountains. There is only one real way for this route, and it is an easy drive in my opinion. Enjoy the drive: US50 to Poncha Springs, US285 to I70, take CO9 from Dillion to Kremling, then US40 to US34 to Grand Lake. I'm sure other Colorado road warriors will chime in. Yes, you will have to do Monarch and Freemont Passes, but neither are white knuckle.


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Thom02099

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Posted: 02/23/20 08:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

rmnpcolorado wrote:



The way I see it, there are three options heading out: Trail Ridge up and over through Rocky (my wife is not keen on that), Highway 40 via Berthoud Pass (not sure I'M keen on that) south to I-70, or 125/127 north up to Laramie, WY (I don't know this route at all). Primarily thinking grades and pulls.



There is another option to these 3. Take CO 125 north to Walden then take CO 14 east up and over Cameron Pass and down the Poudre Canyon. Beautiful drive, Cameron is not overly difficult. A lot shorter than going up and over to Laramie.

If your wife is not keen on Trail Ridge, she will definitely not enjoy the 11 or so miles that you're above timberline with no guardrails and drop offs. US 40 over Berthoud Pass really is not difficult, there are multiple lanes in both directions, no shelf roadway, but it IS a high pass and a goodly incline and decline. Going up CO 125, there's Willow Creek Pass, barely noticeable as passes go. Flat/rolliing terrain to Walden and then north to where 127 splits off. There's a goodly climb on CO/WY 127 but it's not difficult. There's also a drop down to Woods Landing WY, just keep an eye on speed going down. Rolling terrain coming out of Woods Landing in to Laramie.

* This post was edited 02/23/20 08:31pm by Thom02099 *


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Busskipper

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Posted: 02/24/20 06:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thom02099 wrote:

rmnpcolorado wrote:



The way I see it, there are three options heading out: Trail Ridge up and over through Rocky (my wife is not keen on that), Highway 40 via Berthoud Pass (not sure I'M keen on that) south to I-70, or 125/127 north up to Laramie, WY (I don't know this route at all). Primarily thinking grades and pulls.



There is another option to these 3. Take CO 125 north to Walden then take CO 14 east up and over Cameron Pass and down the Poudre Canyon. Beautiful drive, Cameron is not overly difficult. A lot shorter than going up and over to Laramie.

If your wife is not keen on Trail Ridge, she will definitely not enjoy the 11 or so miles that you're above timberline with no guardrails and drop offs. US 40 over Berthoud Pass really is not difficult, there are multiple lanes in both directions, no shelf roadway, but it IS a high pass and a goodly incline and decline. Going up CO 125, there's Willow Creek Pass, barely noticeable as passes go. Flat/rolling terrain to Walden and then north to where 127 splits off. There's a goodly climb on CO/WY 127 but it's not difficult. There's also a drop down to Woods Landing WY, just keep an eye on speed going down. Rolling terrain coming out of Woods Landing in to Laramie.


^^^^^^^^^^ Thom Knows Colorado! Good advice! ^^^^^^^^^^




rmnpcolorado wrote:

We will be in Grand Lake, CO/west side of RMNP this summer, coming from Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. What is the easiest way in to Grand Lake? We're towing a 25' travel trailer that will make the truck work as we wind through Colorado. I'm no stranger to mountain driving, and have come in to Grand Lake via Winter Park and Berthoud Pass (without towing) numerous times.

.....................................

A little background, a couple years ago we took our rig from Mueller State Park west to Durango and the San Juans via Wolf Creek Pass, so I'm comfortable towing in the mountains. I just don't know what that 125/127 route is like. Thanks!


Only thing I might add is the drive up to Grand Lake from Black Canyon would be to get to Silverthorne and then take RT 9 to Kremmling then on to Grand lake - takes Berthoud out of the Picture and other than Monarch Pass on RT 50 is really, as far as passes go not that noteworthy. JMHO [emoticon]

If you were to go North on RT 125 as the exit plan then Snowy Range might rate a Drive through. - That would work, right Thom? MAP - Grand Lake to Snowy Range to Laramie.

Just a thought,


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Thom02099

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Posted: 02/24/20 06:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Only thing I might add is the drive up to Grand Lake from Black Canyon would be to get to Silverthorne and then take RT 9 to Kremmling then on to Grand lake - takes Berthoud out of the Picture and other than Monarch Pass on RT 50 is really, as far as passes go not that noteworthy. JMHO

If you were to go North on RT 125 as the exit plan then Snowy Range might rate a Drive through. - That would work, right Thom? MAP - Grand Lake to Snowy Range to Laramie.



Snowy Range Road would definitely work quite well. From Walden, CO 125 becomes WY 230 and goes up to Riverside/Encampment. Just a ways north of Riverside, WY 130 splits off and heads east toward Laramie. The drive up eastbound is very easy and once you get to Silver Lake, you'll be above timberline. A LOT like Trail Ridge Rd, without the traffic/dropoffs/shelf road, and views to die for. About 1/50th as many people there as in Rocky. Stop up top at the Libby Flats Observation area..and then soak in the views. To the south is the northern part of Rocky. To the north is Sugarloaf Mtn, Medicine Bow Peak and Browns Peak. If you have time, take the hike to The Gap...you will not be disappointed. The drive down from Snowy Range Pass is not difficult, a couple of easy hairpins and then just your typical mountain drive down to Centennial. A stop in Centennial might also be worthwhile.

Libby Flats is on my bucket list this season for boondocking. Lots of open area just begging to host a campsite.

4runnerguy

Glenwood Springs, CO

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Posted: 02/24/20 10:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Black Canyon to Grand Lake:

The route with the easiest grades would be US 50 east to Grand Junction, then catch I-70 and head east to CO 131 at Walcott. North on CO 131 to just over the Colorado River at State Bridge and then head east on the Trough Road (CR 1) which parallels the Colorado River for part of its length. The Trough Road is a well maintained graded road that they put magchloride on to keep it smooth and the dust down. This joins CO 9 just south of Kremmling. From there it's east on US 40 etc. If it's dry weather, the Trough Road is the route we (and other locals) take to Grand Lake from Glenwood Springs. If it's rainy, magchloride makes the road kind of slippery so we head north to Toponas and take CO 134 east over Gore Pass to US 40, then take a right to Granby, etc. Gore Pass is just over 9500' so a pretty easy pass.

For a little more scenic variation on this route, take CO 92 out of Delta to CO 133 and over McClure Pass and on through Carbondale. Then north on CO 82 to Glenwood Springs, I-70, etc. The drive along the Crystal River is one of the most amazingly scenic routes in this state esp. up by Marble and Redstone.

Leaving Grand Lake:

I think the hardest thing about going over Trail Ridge Road is dealing with all the traffic. Lots of people sightseeing = slow going. Heading south over Berthoud Pass means heading into Denver from Empire on a very busy stretch of I-70. Not a difficult drive but for the traffic. CO 14 over Cameron Pass and down the Poudre is indeed scenic but can also be quite busy esp. on weekends.

If you don't mind the extra time, the route up CO 125/127 to WY 230 is an excellent option.


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Busskipper

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Posted: 02/25/20 06:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

4runnerguy wrote:

Black Canyon to Grand Lake:

The route with the easiest grades would be US 50 east to Grand Junction, then catch I-70 and head east to CO 131 at Walcott. North on CO 131 to just over the Colorado River at State Bridge and then head east on the Trough Road (CR 1) which parallels the Colorado River for part of its length. The Trough Road is a well maintained graded road that they put magchloride on to keep it smooth and the dust down. This joins CO 9 just south of Kremmling. From there it's east on US 40 etc. If it's dry weather, the Trough Road is the route we (and other locals) take to Grand Lake from Glenwood Springs. If it's rainy, magchloride makes the road kind of slippery so we head north to Toponas and take CO 134 east over Gore Pass to US 40, then take a right to Granby, etc. Gore Pass is just over 9500' so a pretty easy pass.

For a little more scenic variation on this route, take CO 92 out of Delta to CO 133 and over McClure Pass and on through Carbondale. Then north on CO 82 to Glenwood Springs, I-70, etc. The drive along the Crystal River is one of the most amazingly scenic routes in this state esp. up by Marble and Redstone.

Leaving Grand Lake:

I think the hardest thing about going over Trail Ridge Road is dealing with all the traffic. Lots of people sightseeing = slow going. Heading south over Berthoud Pass means heading into Denver from Empire on a very busy stretch of I-70. Not a difficult drive but for the traffic. CO 14 over Cameron Pass and down the Poudre is indeed scenic but can also be quite busy esp. on weekends.

If you don't mind the extra time, the route up CO 125/127 to WY 230 is an excellent option.


Ken has been the on line authority for almost 20 years, on Colorado - Between Ken and Thom you are getting what, IMHO is the Best Local advice on All Things Colorado.

Almost 15 years ago I posted a Picture of a View that I could not remember it's location - Ken ID'd it and then gave me the History....
I've never forgotten that, so Yes Ken Knows Colorado well!

4runnerguy

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Posted: 02/26/20 09:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Busskipper wrote:

so Yes Ken Knows Colorado well!
As a Colorado native I was hauled to the mountains from a very young age. Once I got my own drivers license, the money I earned went into two things: music albums and gasoline to head to the hills. Been doing it ever since, first in standard automobiles and eventually 4x4 pickups (and of course 4Runners!). Moving to the west slope over a dozen years ago allowed us to explore even more obscure places in the Colorado mountains.

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