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Old 04-19-2009, 08:17 AM
 
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
10,791 posts, read 7,672,390 times
Reputation: 17728

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Hi, I'd posted this in the Travel forum but had a suggestion you'd all be helpful here, so ...

From Pike's Peak, which would be the best way to get to Salida:

1. back up to 24 and then south towards Victor/Cripple Creek on 67 and one of the three routes down to Canon City area and then west to Salida? And which of those three routes would be best?

or

2. back up to 24 and continuing west and then south, via Antero Jct., Nathrop, etc?

We'll be in a Jeep and have some 4WD experience. We're after scenic and interesting, nothing too tourist-trappy.

I've read stuff about the Royal Gorge being quite expensive and very commercialized. The gorge sounds interesting but we don't want to spend, what is it? $45 for the two of us.

Would early to mid May be a problem weather-wise in those areas? as in snowed-out closed roads?

Any tips and recommendations along those routes would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-19-2009, 09:54 AM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,780,481 times
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I'll answer the last question first. Early to mid-May can be hot or cold, dry or wet, and snow is still a real possibility in the high country. The road to the top of Pike's Peak may or may not be open yet--likely not. Above 8,000 feet elevation, the trees will be barely even beginning to leaf out. Don't expect to see the pretty green up in the high country that the travel ads show--it's usually still way too early for that in early May.

You would need to check local conditions to see if Phantom Canyon Road or the Shelf Road--the two most scenic routes from Cripple Creek/Victor to Canon City--are open. Spring flooding and rockslides can be a problem on both if it is wet, and snow is possible up high.

Yes, the Royal Gorge is very touristy. A good way to see the gorge is to take the Royal Gorge train trip. If you come during May, other than Memorial Day weekend, you will be ahead of most of the tourist crowds, especially if you hit there during the middle of the week.

One word of caution about renting a 4WD. Most of the major car rental companies have a clause in the rental contract that makes you personally liable for any damage that occurs to the vehicle if it is driven off of the pavement--the various insurance coverages that come with the rental contract do not apply. Be sure to ask about that--it can be an unpleasant surprise to find that out the hard way.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:18 AM
 
Location: Canon City, Colorado
1,331 posts, read 4,518,320 times
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Jazz is right ....
I personally would take highway 24 to (285 south) into Salida.
When taking highway 24, about a block or so after seeing Hartsel...if you turn North on 285, it will take you into Breckenridge! Just a side trip mind you!!!! Anyway, 285 will take you into Buena Vista then, Salida.....beautiful and breathtaking!!
You wont have a problem finding or seeing where Harstsel, Breckenridge or Salida routes are....it is easily marked and right in front of your face!!!EASY!!
Of course, if there is blowing snow with zero visibility, well then, that's another story!! Just kidding!!
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:32 AM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,527,350 times
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I think Royal Gorge is worth a look once but I wouldn't go way out of my way to see it. I wouldn't say I have a huge fear of heights but it definitely keep my hair standing on end walking over on that bridge.

A lot of roads like Independence Pass and Mt. Evans will still be closed or just opening once the snow from the winter is cleared.

Up in the mountains we called May mud season due to all the snow melt. You can get snow in May in the mountains and it has closed roads before, but is not likely to do so. When I lived in Vail, we got snow a few times in early June and and the 4th of July parade got snowed out about a decade ago. Overall though you should have some nice days just be prepared for cold or snow. Above 7000 ft temperatures at night will still be below freezing or freezing.
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Old 04-20-2009, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
10,791 posts, read 7,672,390 times
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Thanks everyone for your helpfulness. I've noted it all down and will use the info to figure out our route.

Nothing's carved in stone, we want to keep it as flexible as possible. Judging by your comments on the weather and potential road conditions, it looks like that's the way it'll have to be.

And I guess we need to pack a few warm clothes.
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Old 04-20-2009, 10:47 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,696 posts, read 9,419,115 times
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In May there will be no snowed out highways. What concerns me is your use of a jeep for off roading.

I don't know those routes in particular, but I'd be a little leery about going on forest roads in the mountains in May. Particularly above 8000 feet. There will still be snow and there will be mud in places where the snow is melting. Your chances of success depend on the road conditions and how well maintained these roads are. Even with a 4wd jeep you could get stuck if you happen to hit a bad spot.

In general, forest roads in the Rockies are a gamble. Some are very well maintained and see a lot of traffic, while others are in very poor condition. May is the end of the winter season in the mountains, so the road conditions are that much worse due to snow melting.

This should not discourage you from using your 4wd. Just don't plan a whole route based on being able to access point A to point B on a Forest road. I suggest you venture out on the Forest roads with the intention of exploring. When you hit a bad spot you can't get around, turn around and go back to the highway.

General weather conditions should be nice, though, mostly sunny, but cold at night. If you plan on camping, be prepared with cold weather sleeping bags and clothing.
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Old 04-20-2009, 01:20 PM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
2,139 posts, read 5,632,052 times
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Pikes Peak America's Mountain

Pikes Peak Highway is open year round, weather permitting.

City of Colorado Springs - Pike's Peak Panoramic Camera
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:24 AM
 
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
10,791 posts, read 7,672,390 times
Reputation: 17728
Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
In May there will be no snowed out highways. What concerns me is your use of a jeep for off roading.
...
This should not discourage you from using your 4wd. Just don't plan a whole route based on being able to access point A to point B on a Forest road. I suggest you venture out on the Forest roads with the intention of exploring. When you hit a bad spot you can't get around, turn around and go back to the highway.

General weather conditions should be nice, though, mostly sunny, but cold at night. If you plan on camping, be prepared with cold weather sleeping bags and clothing.
Thanks 80skeys, don't worry, we don't intend to put the Jeep through the wringer or anything, keeping in mind what the rental agency might put us through if we did . We mainly just wanted the freedom that a high clearance vehicle offers versus a sedan, just in case some unpaved road to some gorgeous, must-see spot is a bit too washboardy for a low-clearance car and keep us from venturing there. Plus, we're just used to driving 4WDs and prefer them. We'll definitely have a lot of plans, A, B and C.

Thanks everyone, you've been most kind and patient. Sooooo looking forward to seeing Colorado.
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