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Old 07-27-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
Question: why do you want to do this?
To visit family. There are some reasons why it would be nice to do this once per month or more. Where I am now (PA) I can't visit more than once every 3-4 months or so. Thanks for the info.
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:50 PM
 
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I actually have a question about driving through the Rockies NOT in bad weather. I am taking my old van over to Denver from GJ for permanent relocation this weekend and was wondering what route would be the easiest on the old beast. I don't mind driving a bit extra to avoid too much uphill and the risk of overheating (it's an old van that made it through Denver to here, but trying not to push my luck too much.)

I saw 50 seems to have less mountain terrain, but quite a peak at Monarch Pass.

What route would you all recommend going west to east that is easiest on an old vehicle?
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davros View Post
Thanks. I didn't know Colorado had freezing rain. I think those of us from Denver are really sheltered from "hard core" Colorado living. We Denver natives are no different from Texans and Californians. (no offense)
Since I-70 runs next to the Colorado river through the west half of the state, it also gets freezing fog thats as bad as any blizzard I've been through.
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Old 07-27-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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Wink Plan B

My preferred place to be in a winter storm is either out playing in it, or at home by the fire enjoying it all through the window. Driving in snow is one of my least favorite pastimes. Thus, to the extent possible, I would not drive on I-70 or anywhere else it conditions expected to be inclement.

That said, I've driven on I-70, indeed from Colorado to California or elsewhere, in the dead of winter without much drama. Part of that happy outcome was because I generally avoided storms. Nevertheless, one will inevitably end up driving in snow at times, and I entirely agree with the sentiment that the hazard is not the road or conditions so much as all the other idiots one has to contend with. They are the real menace. Assuming you have a proper vehicle, with proper tires, and at least a fair idea of how to drive in snow, then as long as the roads are halfway plowed driving in the snow can be a cakewalk.

Lots of fun, actually. I remember a drive across the Sierra Nevada of California and Donner Summit on I-80 last winter with particular pleasure. It was the dead of night, snowing fairly heavily, with the roads not far beyond Reno entirely snow-packed until on the far side. Fortunately there were few other drivers to contend with, and at between 25 to 35mph it was just an excursion through a winter wonderland. The only downside was that California has a thing about chains, they were out actively checking every vehicle, and I had to use them.

Something fortunately I don't have to mess with in Colorado. But if the choice, I will stay off the interstate. When it comes to snow I slow way down, which seems the best solution in assuring one will remain on the road. It isn't however always the easiest solution if dealing with other drivers who do not have the same concept, particularly on interstates. They have the mistaken impression that if an interstate the same rules of physics do not apply. So I like to stick to secondary roads where slower speeds are expected, or at least tolerated, and better yet see Plan B: by the fire at home.

My general impression is that in a storm one is better off on I-70 through the mountains than out east on the plains. Seems like most times when the road is closed due blizzard conditions and high winds it is out there. But I don't have the same experience as other posters here with truly inclement conditions as I usually avoid them. What I can say is that the drive between Grand Junction and Denver can be perfectly fine and lovely any time of year, if your timing is right.

Beyond that, I like the idea of Amtrak, although admittedly it might make for a shorter weekend. I've never been fond of buses, and if that can work, the consideration that any accident and you'll be stuck the same as everyone else. Not to mention sometimes, some bus drivers do really boneheaded things, such as driving off cliffs. Although your odds of that probably in the same ballpark as flying, with either worth the chance. On certain weekends you might fly when driving could be questionable. Although keep in mind that sometimes their idea of suitable flying weather is overly optimistic.

Then there is always Plan B. It sounds as if from Grand Junction you'll have more opportunity to visit friends and family in Denver than now. Plan B would be for the times when you might like to but the weather Gods say otherwise . . . and you can extend condolences for your absence by fireside.
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Old 07-27-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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Wink Just how flat?

Per the question about the flattest route between Grand Junction and Denver: you might want to buy a new car.

Monarch Pass on US 50 isn't particularly rough, but it isn't just some summit either. Compared to Vail Pass or the Eisenhower Tunnel at Loveland Pass, yes, probably not as challenging for an older vehicle. One might expect certain grades on that route as well, such as on US 285 going into Denver, although Monarch would be your primary challenge. Not that much out of the way compared to using I-70, either.

Something that could not be said of another consideration I had for you. If seeking a truly flat route, or at least as flat as you're likely to find, the best route might be in looping down through Utah into New Mexico, then back into Denver via the eastern plains. Problem is most any way you go you'll run into some type of pass somewhere.

I might also have suggested you cut up through Craig, CO or something and intersect relatively flat I-80 to cross the continental divide at South Pass, then drift on down to I-25 and Denver.

I'm thinking another possibility you might try, perhaps similar to the difficulties posed by Monarch Pass, would be a route via North Park and Cameron Pass. You might take I-70 about as far east as Edwards, then cut up through Kremmling, then north on US 40 to intersect Colorado State Route 14. It will take you through Walden, over Cameron Pass (10,276 feet), then on down through Red Feather Lakes, Ft. Collins, and south on I-25 to Denver. Unfortunately the west side of Cameron Pass is steeper than the more gradual east side.

It would be an interesting drive. As would that of US 50 and Monarch Pass. Or if wishing something more direct, bare buying a new vehicle, just turn on your flashers and creep up some of the steeper grades on I-70.

Turns out the West is rather mountainous.
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Old 07-27-2010, 10:36 PM
 
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Thanks for the detailed info on routes! Yes, I would love to buy a new car, but all my extra money is going to my studio startup!

I think I'm going to go up to 80 Friday afternoon/eve, get a hotel in Rawlins, then finish up Sat AM. I understand there is still a gentle pass that peaks around 9000 ft east of Laramie, but since I don't have a HUGE time crunch (have to arrive sometime during the day Sat) probably my safest option.
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Beyond that, I like the idea of Amtrak, although admittedly it might make for a shorter weekend. I've never been fond of buses, and if that can work, the consideration that any accident and you'll be stuck the same as everyone else. Not to mention sometimes, some bus drivers do really boneheaded things, such as driving off cliffs.
Thanks for the post.

Actually, I don't think it's possible to use Amtrak to go to Denver for a normal weekend, it has to be a three day weekend or more. On a normal weekend, you'd have to leave Grand Junction Saturday, get to Denver Saturday night, and leave Denver again Sunday morning.

As for bus drivers going off a cliff, I think I'm more likely to do that than they are. True the bus gets stuck if the road closes. The reason I'd take the bus is that I don't like driving in snow. I've usually managed to take public transportation to get to work whenever there's a storm.
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Old 07-28-2010, 06:50 AM
 
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Amtrak takes 8 hours from GJ to Denver, so it's only practical if you have loads of time. And they only have AM departures, so it's not like you can catch a train Friday evening and do an overnight
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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Wink Shortcut, etc.

For elevation, the area I had in mind was between Rawlings, WY and Laramie, WY. But, yes, it turns out the highest point on I-80 in Wyoming (8,640 feet) lies between Laramie and Cheyenne.

I may never have driven that stretch, so can't say, but do know of a good alternative. One might take US 287 south from Laramie, it running in a southeast direction to Ft. Collins, CO and I-25. It is a shorter route for one, cutting off the dog-leg via Cheyenne, with speed limits only slightly less than the interstate. It would probably be the quickest route. Perfectly scenic, too. There is a divide to cross at the Wyoming/Colorado border, but it may well prove less challenging than that between Laramie and Cheyenne. Other than this divide, the road is fairly flat out of Laramie, and into Ft. Collins.

Perhaps someone who knows both of these possible routes could best inform you. Aside from the greater distance involved, I-80 will prove a fairly flat and easy route.

In reaching I-80, I have limited experience with northwest Colorado, with the impression, through Rangely or Meeker say, of generally moderate low hills. It is not flat. Again, someone with more experience in this region might better inform you of particular areas of concern. Generally, though, your best route might be north out of Rifle, through Meeker and Craig to intersect I-80. Alternately, and I can't entirely say, out of Loma north through Rangely to Dinosaur, thence US 40 east to Craig, and on.
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Old 07-28-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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What I-80 lacks in grades it makes up for in frequently stiff (30-50 mph) headwinds if you are heading westbound. I used to drive I-80 a lot, and my sedan generally got about 4 mpg less traveling westbound compared to eastbound--the headwind was the difference. The grade west out of Cheyenne to the summit of Sherman Hill is long and sustained as is the grade west of Arlington to the second summit east of Rawlins. Also, I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins has very few services along the road and even cell phone service is spotty in places. If you break down, it's not a fun place to be.

Any route you pick is going to stiff grades (6% or more) somewhere along the way. Even the aforementioned road from Craig to Rifle has a lot of up and down, including Nine-mile Hill. No free lunch.
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