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Old 07-10-2013, 12:34 AM
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I'm driving from Albuquerque NM to Salt Lake City UT and the route has me going through Cortez and Pleasant View via 491. Seems like this road is pretty desolate. Is there anything I should be concerned about, Any deadly cliffs or steep climbs? Cell phone reception?

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Old 07-10-2013, 01:40 AM
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Wink US 491 (aka 666)

US 491 (formerly US 666, before being PC'd) is a perfectly fine road from Gallup, NM to its junction with with US 191 at Monticello, UT.

Not sure about cell phone reception, but do not expect a plethora of services. It is largely empty country most of the way, being one of the attractions. They've done some work on this road between Gallup and Shiprock, so it may seem fairly modern and normal. North of Shiprock (last I saw it) it was a fine two-lane, but with an entirely stupid speed limit in New Mexico. Colorado improves on that.

Just remember to fuel up when appropriate (as in any last town for a good long ways) and you should be fine.

Some interests of note would be the Chuska Mountains on the border of Arizona and New Mexico, to one's left in heading north. If departing the road in places and heading west towards these mountains, there are some old historic Navajo trading posts. It is all Navajo country. In Colorado, and just beyond Cortez, one will be skirting the eastern edge of Hovenweep National Monument (or, by another name, Canyon of the Ancients). Anasazi country. The formal entrance and monument headquarters is in Utah next the border. But there are dirt roads leading into this area of ancient and intricately crafted stone dwellings and mystery off of US 491.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Nedely View Post
I'm driving from Albuquerque NM to Salt Lake City UT and the route has me going through Cortez and Pleasant View via 491. Seems like this road is pretty desolate. Is there anything I should be concerned about, Any deadly cliffs or steep climbs? Cell phone reception?

Good morning Nedely!

I'm quite familiar with this route, in fact I was through there just a few months ago! I live just west of Grand Junction.

It's a good road and reasonably safe. No dropoffs. Yes, it can be a tad lonely in spots but there is more traffic there than you think. You're going through farming country actually with one town (Dove Creek) self proclaiming itself the "Pinto Bean Capitol of the World!" You'll get a fair amount of truck traffic going through that area. In fact there's a port of entry just a couple miles outside of Monticello. You should be fine. You have a few hill climbs and that's it. The elevation peaks at 6800 ft. in Dove Creek, Farmington's is around 5600 ft., and Monticello's is just over 7000 ft.

Regarding cell phone reception, I have Verizon. You're on their signal until you get maybe 20 miles south of Aztec and then there's a 15 mile stretch where you're on "extended network." There's a couple spots between Durango and Cortez where I've noticed no service, but that doesn't last too long.

491 has a few passing lanes here and there and when you get to the Utah border it is two lane to Monticello-period. Several passing lanes put in recently between Monticello and Moab and between Moab and I-70. If you're wanting to stop for lunch, your choices are kind of slim with the Roundup Cafe in Lewis (recently re-opened) and the Lunch Box Cafe in Dove Creek. Both are good places to eat IMO. Lodging is very limited with the National 9 in Dove Creek. I've stayed there once but it's been years ago.

One thing to keep in mind you don't see much state patrol activity on this route but the closer you get to Moab you do. Watch your speed.

Safe travels to you!

ADD>>>Good comments by Idunn (as always). Hovenweep National Monument doesn't get the attention that Mesa Verde gets but it's an interesting place as is the other places Idunn refers to.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 07-10-2013 at 09:17 AM.. Reason: addition, spelling
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:16 PM
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
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Double H and Idunn have given you excellent replies. We're a bit short of deadly cliffs, although the ones at Mesa Verde National Park (about 15 miles east of Cortez on Highway 160) are well worth a visit if you have a few hours to spare. It's one of the nicest and most interesting National Parks in a region which has several of them. Mesa Verde has some wonderful cliff dwellings that have been carefully restored and some stunning vistas. It's like taking a trip back through time - fascinating stuff! If you decide to check out Hovenweep - which has been "discovered," alas - stop on your way and check out Canyon of the Ancients just north of Cortez (take the road west out of Pleasant View).

Also, stop off at Adobe Mills in Dove Creek and score yourself some "Anasazi" beans and a jar of great local salsa. Anasazi beans are a heirloom type bean discovered and rescured by a local pinto bean farmer. They come in a cute burlap sack and are a pretty speckled color. They are emblematic of the region and make for fun "tourist" gifts for the folks back home.

Cell phone service depends on your carrier. You'll probably run into dead spots regardless - generally they don't last long.

Cops don't bother folks too much on 491, but take it easy when driving through Cortez and Dove Creek just to be on the safe side. FWIW, I've also recently seen the Highway Patrol lurking in wait between Shiprock and Cortez. Don't know if this was an isolated incident or if they've decided to take up trolling for speeders who hit the Colorado State line doing 90mph.

I assume you know that you'll be driving through drop dead spectacular Canyonlands Country once your north of Monticello in Utah?

Last edited by Colorado Rambler; 07-11-2013 at 05:55 PM..
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