Drive from Mesa Verde to Boulder
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Mar 13, 2013 8:30 AM Last Post By: trekker502
Mar 12, 2013 1:49 PM
Drive from Mesa Verde to BoulderHi, at the end of May I'm thinking of driving from Mesa Verde up to Boulder Co. and would like advice on two things:I'm intending to drive via Hways 160 and 285.
Firstly is doing this drive in a day a feasible option? I'd be sharing the driving with my son.
Second: I'm hoping this is going to be a well surfaced road all the way up, is this the case?
The car is just going to be a standard Ford, no 4wd or anything else. I'm assuming the likelihood of the road being closed because of snow is negligible if Weather Underground is correct.
Any help would be appreciated.
Mar 12, 2013 2:40 PM
1Snow on that route at the end of May is extremely rare but not completely impossible. Still, it wouldn't be a huge problem for any car with decent tires. The trip is estimated at 403 miles or 7 hours 46 minutes according to Google. That seems do-able in a day, even with a stop for lunch.
The roads are all well-surfaced, decently maintained, and mostly two lanes all the way. One thing to watch out for--US 285 between Poncha Springs and Buena Vista always has radar cars. Make it a point to watch your speed through there.
Mar 12, 2013 3:00 PM
2Do you absolutely have to do it it one day - it's a pretty long haul. If not, can I suggest you consider going via Telluride (or the Million Dollar Hwy via Ouray) and then Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP plus I-70 for the balance. I think that is probably more scenic and interesting than your proposed route, notwithstanding the large-scale view of the main range from Hwy 285.
Mar 13, 2013 6:18 AM
Mar 13, 2013 6:22 AM
4Highway #285, from Alamosa to Saguache is high desert valley -- possibly high winds. Now I see where the Great Sand Dunes National Park is located! #285 follows the Rio Grande to its headwaters, northwest of Saguache, but you will turn northeast instead. Salida would be a perfect place to spend the night, if you discover that the drive is too tiring for just one day -- there really is no other recommended stopover between Pagosa Springs and Salida. I have driven the #285 from Poncha Springs to Denver in early March as a shortcut to the Denver International Airport, and it was clear driving at that time. Highway #160 is forested and mountainous, with undulating ups and downs -- there was a heavy thunderstorm when I drove it last September. It is not easy to pass slow vehicles at some places.
Mar 13, 2013 6:58 AM
Mar 13, 2013 8:30 AM
6Highway #145 along the Dolores River Valley, from Cortez to Telluride, is narrow, mostly one-lane each way, through dense forest. Last September, I drove the loop from Taos to Chama, then along Highway #160 to Durango and to Dolores, then turned onto Highway #145 north past Telluride, then onto #62 to Highway #550 to Montrose, where I spent the night. Then east onto Highway #50 to Gunnison, for two nights. Then I drove Highway #50 east to Highway #114, before Monarch Pass. #114 took me south to the headwaters of the Rio Grande and then to Saguache, where I picked up Highway #285 south to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The route from Durango on #550 north over the Million Dollar Highway past Silverton and Ouray to Montrose would be much faster than through the Dolores Valley. It is beautiful scenery. If you drove Highway #50, starting in Montrose, you would drive over Monarch Pass, about 11,000-ft elevation. You might still want to rest for the night in Salida, on the east side of Monarch Pass. It is 120 miles from Montrose to Salida. It is a very steep, narrow mountain road over Million Dollar Highway and may be slick or icy with no guardrails in March. It is also steep switchbacks up and down Monarch Pass, with potentially icy conditions.
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