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Old 10-10-2009, 03:21 PM
 
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HI, I need some advice about driving to Pagosa Springs... I will be driving from either Durango or Albuquerque during the last week of November. My question is about the snow... is driving in the snow difficult? I'm used to driving in New England storms, but after reading about Pagosa Springs online there seems to be much, much more snow. I visited Pagosa Springs during June (drove from Colorado Springs) so I am aware of the winding, mountainous roads (160). I'm just concerned about how much snow Pagosa has typically during the last week of November and driving in a rental car. Pagosa Springs is beautiful and I can't wait to go back! Any help about the snowfall and driving would be greatly appreciated!!!
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Old 10-10-2009, 07:29 PM
 
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The roads could be terrible--or they may be dry. Late November and the month of December are typically a fairly dry period in southwestern Colorado, but at least one significant storm will usually roll through during that period. For some reason, the Thanksgiving weekend seems to get one with some regularity. (Some years back, when I had relatives in Denver, I drove back to western Colorado in a blizzard four years straight on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.) One of the most brutal winter driving trips I ever made was from Durango to Denver one year in mid-November. I think there was about 20 miles of dry road in the 330+ miles. The State Patrol was closing the road behind me going over Wolf Creek Pass--so those big, early storms do happen on occasion.

I've said this before and I will repeat. If you are an inexperienced winter driver, the mountains of Colorado are no place to learn in the middle of a winter storm. You endanger not only yourself, but other drivers.
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:43 PM
 
Location: SW Colorado
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People commute daily between Pagosa and Durango and CDOT does a very good job of keeping Hwy 160 clear due to the amount of traffic. As Jazz said, we can get a lot of snow or have no snow at all at the end of November. If there happens to be a big snowstorm the night before, I would wait to leave later in the morning if possible. Your biggest concern on Hwy 160 really isn’t the snow, it is the amount of wildlife (deer / elk) that may be on the road, especially early in the morning or around dusk. Something to always be on the lookout for and a real hazard if you are not watching for them.

If you are coming up from Albuquerque, the shortest route is to come up through Santa Fe, to Espanola, and then on Hwy 84 from Chama to Pagosa. The worst part of this drive in the winter is Hwy 84, which although usually well maintained, is not as heavily traveled and also has a lot of wildlife along the road that you need to watch out for.

Either way you go it sounds like you won’t have to go over Wolf Creek Pass, so half your battle is over right there.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:03 AM
 
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Coloradoan is right, CDOT does solid work! It's been a while since I've been on 84, but yea, lots of deer roaming across the highway. In fact, IMO this year I've seem more wildlife on the road than ever before, not just on highway 84 and 160, but through other western slope roads as well.
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Old 10-11-2009, 09:10 AM
 
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Thank you both for the great and very useful advice. It is very much appreciated. I can't wait to go back to Pagosa!
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Last year in December I drove from Durango to Pagosa and then into northern New Mexico (Chama, etc.) the day after a heavy snowfall. The Durango-Pagosa stretch was okay because the plows came out. It was still a little slippery but it wasn't bad because they were already salting the roads.

But there was no plowing on the northern new mexico highways. They were very slick so I had to drive slow and be careful on curves. I believe I have some pictures of this. If I find them, I'll post them here.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:53 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Some photos taken this past winter driving between Durango-Pagosa-Chama.
Attached Thumbnails
Advice for driving to Pagosa Springs-grand_junction-096.jpg   Advice for driving to Pagosa Springs-grand_junction-102.jpg   Advice for driving to Pagosa Springs-grand_junction-109.jpg  
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:06 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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I just noticed the photos are labeled "Grand Junction." Ignore that. They are in fact photos of Durango-Pagosa-Chama.
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:22 PM
 
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I've been on that road many a time keys-good photos!

A quick note on the NM side of highway 84. Am not sure, but for some time time there have been funding problems with certain areas of New Mexico, particularly the area with not a whole lot of traffic, such as highway 84.

I remember one time, back in 1991, I was traveling with a close friend coming out of Albuquerque to Denver. We encountered car problems (an alternator making a lot of noise and draining the charging system). We came to a stop at 9 p.m. just outside of Maxwell. A state patrolman came along for assistance, and strongly urged us to get a tow truck. We did; I know Raton well, lived there in '82 on a construction assignment. He stressed to us the Interstate would have coverage until 10p.m., and then none till 6 a.m. the next morning. I asked why, because of interstate funding. He said, "because of sudden lack of interstate funding".

With the economy as bad as it has been, and IMO will be for the next couple years, that situation is going on here. With funding problems like that, consider the coverage on county roads.

And trust me on this one, it gets plenty dark out there south of Raton!

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 10-13-2009 at 07:50 PM..
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,656 posts, read 9,386,582 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DOUBLE H View Post
I've been on that road many a time keys-good photos!
Thanks. That area of the state is real nice. The southern San Juans are special.
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