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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Colorado 4X4 Trip Report - July 2011

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BradW

Mayor of Flat Rock

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Joined: 10/29/2001

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Posted: 08/27/11 09:20am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The DW and I took a few days off from work in July and made a jeep trip out to the Chalk Creek Area near Buena Vista, Colorado. July is not our favorite time to go to Colorado, that would be late September, but you have to go in July or August to be assured of the mountain 4X4 passes will be open. The temperatures driving out were predicted to be brutal, so we drove the first long leg at night, leaving the house on a Wed at 9pm. We arrived at the El Reno, Oklahoma KOA about 11am the next day. We’ve stayed at that KOA many times and never had a problem. They also have a new modern bathhouse and buffalos.

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The Big Texan in Amarillo, Tx

We left El Reno about 5am on Thursday and managed to make it to the Big Texan in Amarillo for breakfast. We left I-40 there and cut across to Raton Pass, NM and then on up to the Chalk Creek CG just south of Buena Vista.

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Chalk Creek RV Park at Nathrop, Co

The Chalk Creek CG is another very good CG if you are looking for a developed commercial CG with hookups. They also have a very nice new bathhouse, humming birds out the whazoo and the folks who work there and the owners have always been very nice to us.

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Billings Lake Area near Salida, Co

Saturday we drove a pretty easy forest road which leaves the Monarch Pass Hwy and heads south to Billings Lake. The lake is at the end of the road which goes by the old mining ghost town of Shavano. Beautiful area up there and it was not crowded at all, even on a Saturday.

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Baldwin Lake Area near St Elmo, Co

Sunday we drove up Chalk Creek towards the Ghost town of St Elmo. We turn onto the Baldwin Lake trail and proceeded up to the lake. This is another beautiful area with lots of spectacular scenery and wildflowers. We saw a herd of mountain goats on the way up. On the way down we took the side trail to Bolder Mtn. If you hate trees and like high narrow rocky steep places, you will love that trail.

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Hancock Pass Photos

Monday we again headed up Chalk Creek but turned onto the Hancock Pass 4x4 trail. We drove up and over Hancock and then continued on to the western portal of the now defunct Alpine Trail Tunnel.

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Alpine Tunnel Trail Photo

The tunnel was built at 11,000’ in the late 1800’s to allow for a shorter/faster train route to Gunnison. Unfortunately construction went slower than expected and by the time it was finished, another railroad had beat them to Gunnison by two years.

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Williams Pass Photos

From the Alpine tunnel 4x4 trail, we turned east and went up and over Williams Pass. The Williams Pass wagon road was built in the late 1800’s to support the construction effort on the Alpine Tunnel. Driving over Williams Pass is a real treat because the Forest Service only opens it during the month of August (weather permitting). It is one of the least traveled roads in the lower 48.

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Bonanza Photos

Tuesday we drove several 4x4 trails in the Bonanza Ghost Town Area. There was lots of mining activity in that area in the late 1800’s. Mainly they mined gold, silver, zinc and lead.

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Marshal Pass Photo

We finished the Bonanza trails early, so we decided to run over Marshal Pass.

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Bear Photo

Saw a muddy black bear on Marshal Pass.

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Monitor Photo

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Battery Photo

Wednesday was a day for electrical problems. Our water pump switch and camper battery both went south. We head to the Lance dealer in Puncho Springs and they found us a replacement switch. Then on to Walmart in Salida for a new battery.

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Grizzly Lake Trail

Thursday we headed back up Chalk Creek and turned onto the Grizzly Lake trail. This trail has a small rock ledge at the beginning and then a long steep narrow rocky shelf road right after that. If you make it past those two places, the trail is much easier the rest of the way to Grizzly Lake. I didn’t take a fishin’ pole this trip, but that lake has lots of trout in it that seemed to eat about any flashy spinner drug by their nose.

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Tin Cup Pass Photo

We got back early so we drove up to the top of Tin Cup Pass. You can't see them in the photo, but with binoculars we could see 100's of elk grazing on the tundra slopes across the valley.

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Moose Photo

We saw a couple of moose between St Elmo and Tin Cup Pass.

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Pomeroy Lake Photo

Friday was the last day, so we took an easy trip up to Pomeroy Lake. We parked at the end of the road and walked up to the upper lake and up to the top of the ridge to the east. From there, we could look down and see Grizzly Lake. That was way too much walkin’ for this flatlander because there ain’t no O2 up there.


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St Elmo Photo

We stopped at St Elmo on the way back to camp and walked around a bit.

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CG Photo

Saturday we loaded up and headed for home.

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Salina, Ks KOA Photo

Made it to the KOA in Salina, Ks (another good CG we’ve stayed at many time) about dark. Left out Sunday morning about 9am and headed east through Kansas City, St Louis, Nashville and made it home about 2am.

Additional trip photos here: Colorado 2011 Photos

Missed some good animal photos because we left the big camera and big lenses at home. Ended up just taking a pocket camera. Overall, good uneventful trip with no jeep breakdowns, trailer flats or trailer bearing issues.

Brad


Wake Up America
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bka0721

Republic of Colorado

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Joined: 03/19/2008

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Posted: 08/27/11 09:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What a wonderful trip and pictures, BradW ! I miss my old Lab and the way he loved backpacking and riding in the truck in the mountains, leaning against my shoulder on those turns through Tin Cup and Muddy Gap Passes. Thanks for reminding me of those long ago times, seeing your pup joining you. The wildflowers were beautiful and the wide Cirques were beautiful. I am glad you made it across the sizzling plains to get home. Thank you Brad for a well done Trip Report. Hurry back, Colorado needs the sales taxes.

bryan

FishPOET

La Habra, CA

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Posted: 08/27/11 10:27am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fantastic trip report and awesome pictures. That looks to be another area of Colorado I need to visit. Thanks for sharing.

jiveturkey692000

NE PA

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Posted: 08/27/11 10:28am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great pictures!


Dan">
96 Fleetwood Mallard, 30'
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RRUGG

Newaygo, MI,USA

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Posted: 08/27/11 10:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You sure know how to hurt a guy. I'm slobbering all over my keyboard. We're gonna be in CO. next summer for sure. Love the photos. Great trip.


RRUGG
2009 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ 1500 4x4 5.3L
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Camped in 49 states. Missing Hawaii.

JaredWPhillips

Henryville, IN

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Joined: 07/25/2011

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Posted: 08/27/11 10:47am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Guess I got to get me a jeep now.


MY RVing BLOG
  • 2002 Chevy Suburban Z71 5.3 V8

  • 2001 Chevy Silverado 1500 ext cab 4x4 5.3 V8. GoodYear Wrangler Authority E-Rated tires, FireStone AirBags.

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Eugarps

Hagerstown, MD

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Posted: 08/27/11 10:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BradW,

I guess I'll trade my wife's Civic for a Rubicon. [emoticon]

Great photos and trip report from a part of the country we've been away from far too long.

Bill

SoCalDesertRider

Arizona desert

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Joined: 12/14/2003

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Posted: 08/27/11 11:12am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great trip! [emoticon]


01 International 4800 4x4 CrewCab DT466E Allison MD3060
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weymard

NORMANDY

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Posted: 08/27/11 11:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow ! Great report !Thanks for sharing


FORD F250 LARIAT 4X4 DIESEL 2008
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France, Normandy

sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 08/27/11 11:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing Brad,

You're tempting me even more towards thinking about towing the Suzuki Samurai behind my rig. I'd be tempted to get a trailer like yours, but I couldn't get it round the back of my property, and it would look pretty ugly on the front lawn.

Bill - See, rather than trading my Civic or Sally's Fiat - I just bought the Suzuki as a cheap extra vehicle - now each of us has a normal car + some sort of 4x4.

Steve.


'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
'98 Jeep TJ 4.0
'15 Ford Fiesta ST
'09 Fiat Panda 1.2


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