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Old 02-06-2013, 07:16 PM
 
1,059 posts, read 1,631,142 times
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This coming May, my wife & I will be starting our move from PA to Durango. I plan to drive my truck out in mid May pulling an approximately 4,000 lb loaded U-Haul trailer as the first installment of our move as I position my truck in Durango and fly back to complete the packing & loading in preparation for the final move in June.

My current route plans call for crossing I-25 at Walsenburg as I head west from the eastern plains. The route will of course take me across US-160 westbound to Durango across La Veta & Wolf Creek passes. In my estimation, this would seem to be the easiest route across the mountains while pulling the trailer. I am trying to avoid US-550 and the million dollar highway for obvious reasons.

So my question is: would this be the easiest route from the perspective of crossing the mountains to get over to Durango? There are certainly some longer and much less mountainous routes available (like dropping down to I-40 and coming back up) but they are hundreds of miles longer. Alternatively, I could cross I-25 at Pueblo on US-50, follow US-50 West up the Arkansas River valley then pick up US-285 at Salida, head south down through Saguache & Del Norte where I could then pick up US-160 west over Wolf Creek Pass. Not sure that there is any advantage to doing this & it is slightly longer. I've driven this route before in a car and it is a somewhat gradual climb as you drive west up the river valley.

Start to finish, this is a 1700 mile drive and I estimate about 30 hrs driving time at this point if I choose the aforementioned route across La Veta & Wold Creek passes. Any comments from anyone more familiar with the drive? I drove Wolf Creek pass once before back in 2009 eastbound but I was in a smaller car at that time. I just want to be sure that this is going to be the most reasonable route from a towing perspective.

Just looking for some feedback.

Thanks
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:23 PM
 
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Wolf Creek Pass will be the most difficult part of the route, so you may as well stay with your original plan to hit US160 at Walsenburg.

Assuming you have a full sized truck in good condition and are willing to go slowly where it is called for, you should be fine (you did say 4,000 lbs total, right?). Do be aware that extremely severe winter weather is still possible across most of Colorado in May. That goes double for all passes. Double that again for Wolf Creek Pass. Do not even think about towing a trailer across those mountains if there is snow or ice present.

Gear down on downhills. Be prepared to pull off and let your brakes cool down if you get even a suggestion of brake fade. Give yourself plenty of time - An average of 45 mph pulling a trailer will be making good time from Walsenburg to Durango - over five hours not counting any stops.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:14 PM
 
Location: Western Colorado
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You should be fine, as the previous poster said, don't ride your brakes on the downhill grade, use your gears. Take your time, have fun. Good luck on your move.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:40 AM
 
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Thanks, fortunately I do have a full size truck for towing. I have a 2010 Toyota Tundra w/5.7L V8 (slurp!) and the SR5 package giving me a 10,600 lb towing capacity. I figured that Wolf Creek Pass would be the most difficult and I'm familiar with the possibility of winter weather in the passes 9 months of the year or more. One of the coldest days I experienced in Colorado was Silverton in mid June a few years back.

Dropping down to I-40 (jumping from I-70 to I-44 in St Louis, then down to I-40 in Oklahoma City) is about 170 miles longer but only 1 hour longer since it's almost all interstate. The only 2 lane would be the last 10-15 miles or so to Durango on US-550 after crossing the state line from New Mexico.

I'll see what happens when I get closer. One of my older brothers who lives in Col Spgs has offered to come help me drive and he has lots of towing experience after about 30 years of pulling horse trailers with his wife's horses. If I enlist him, we can drive the 30 hours straight through. Lots of time to plan this trip though so time will tell.

Thanks for the feedback everyone.
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:46 PM
 
2,253 posts, read 6,007,883 times
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Wink Wolf Creek Pass vs alternatives

US 160 and Wolf Creek Pass are likely your best bet.

As mentioned, Wolf Creek is more challenging than La Veta Pass, so no point in skirting La Veta to the north on US 50.

Yes, if wishing to forego the passes you could intersect I-25 then south to just north of Albuquerque, NM, and then an easy drive up US 550 to Durango.

There are other options in New Mexico as well. From Alamosa, CO you could cut south on US 285 to Antonito, then southwest on CO 17 over Cumbres Pass (elevation: 10,020 feet). Some twists and turns, but not overly challenging. Another option farther south off US 285 would be west from Tres Piedras, NM on US 64 over Brazos Summit (elevation: 10,507 feet). US 64 through New Mexico is an often interesting and beautiful drive, particularly between Cimarron and Blanco. So one might do that, although it will be mountain driving from west of Cimarron, over a divide to drop into the Moreno Valley and the small town of Eagle Nest, and then up again over Palo Flechado Pass (9,101 feet) to wind down Taos Canyon to Taos. None of this is really daunting, and less demanding than the west side of Wolf Creek Pass. But all these alternatives obviously present detours over the more direct route of US 160.

If in mid-May (and especially this year, likely no snow), then the right truck should have no issue trailering over Wolf Creek Pass (and using lower gears downhill).
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