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 > Wolf Creek Pass vs. Coal Bank & Molas Passes

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wildbyon

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Posted: 01/22/20 03:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How does Wolf Creek Pass from South Fork to Durango compare to Coal Bank & Molas Passes from Durango to Silverton, CO?


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agesilaus

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Posted: 01/22/20 03:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I don't know about the others but we've been across Wolf Creek a number of times pulling a 34 ft fiver with no trouble. Sometimes it is windy and stormy with snow possible in the summer but the new road itself is not a problem. Unlike the song, who's writer was referring to the old road and may never have been across it in the first place.


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Lwiddis

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Posted: 01/22/20 05:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For scenic beauty or ease of driving?


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Posted: 01/22/20 06:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Highway 160 is wider and straighter than 550. Both are good but 550 has smaller shoulders in some sections & tighter turns.


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Thom02099

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Posted: 01/22/20 06:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wildbyon wrote:

How does Wolf Creek Pass from South Fork to Durango compare to Coal Bank & Molas Passes from Durango to Silverton, CO?


US 160 and Wolf Creek Pass tops out at ~10800 feet and is 3- and 4-lane roadway. It's nowhere near as bad as legend has it, or it was in the past. Yes, it's a steep pass on the west side, but it's not difficult and there are runaway truck ramps. 2 climb lanes on the eastbound side west of the summit, 2 lanes going down. 2 climb lanes westbound on the east side of the summit, 1 and 2 lanes going down. No shelf road to speak of, IIRC, there are guardrails all the way, and there are some cool pull offs for those photo ops.

US 550, Coal Bank Pass (~10600 feet) and Molas Pass (~10900 feet), is 2 lane roadway all the way to Silverton. IMO, Coal Bank is "meh", is barely noticeable as Colorado Passes go. Molas has a nice overlook parking area, and there's an amazing campground north of the pass (seasonal). Neither are as daunting as their 3rd companion...Red Mountain Pass. That pass itself is not so bad, it's the portion from the summit north to Ouray that is the stuff of legends and much discussion on this and other message boards. Tight switchbacks, avalanche chutes and shelf road with no guardrails and steep drop offs. Yes, truckers and buses do it all the time...and they are professional drivers, accustomed to it. Experienced drivers can handle it.

* This post was edited 01/23/20 06:27pm by Thom02099 *


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agesilaus

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Posted: 01/22/20 06:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My comment on Red Mountain Pass is that it seems to make it's own weather and it is bad weather for the most part. We've been over it maybe 10 or 12 times and I only recall it being sunny once. And this is in June-August. Usually cold rain and occasionally blowing snow.
The road itself has never been a problem for me. But I've been driving mountain roads since the 1970's tho and am immune to no rails, steep drops and switchbacks. Stop at the roadside exhibit and read about the mountain, it has many miles of tunnels inside.

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Posted: 01/22/20 06:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wolf Creek is not an issue I run that both ways with relatives in Alamosa & Durango pulling my 35ft 5W. We drove to Silverton from Durango last year on a day trip. Really enjoyed town but that road is narrow and has many really sharp turns, I did see several RV's. I would take my 5W and plan on plenty of time to get there, it will be a really slow trip.
[image]
Wolf Creek early Oct heading to Alamosa 4" at the summit, watch the weather!!


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padredw

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Posted: 01/22/20 08:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The difference to me is that Wolf Creek Pass is among the "normal" highway passes (such as Monarch) in Colorado. US 550 is more of an adventure--a great adventure.

I had put off towing a fifth-wheel on the "Million Dollar Highway" until a few years ago. I thought I could do it, but I never really needed to as I always went back through Montrose and Gunnison. But that year we had no need to go back that way and I decided that now was the time. It was great! September and the Aspens were glowing. We had some "wintery mix" at the top of several of the passes.

Unfortunately, I was 84 years old at the time and I should not have waited so long. But I'm glad I finally did it.





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Posted: 01/23/20 02:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thom02099 wrote:

wildbyon wrote:

How does Wolf Creek Pass from South Fork to Durango compare to Coal Bank & Molas Passes from Durango to Silverton, CO?


US 160 and Wolf Creek Pass tops out at ~10800 feet and is 3- and 4-lane roadway. It's nowhere near as bad as legend has it, or it was in the past. Yes, it's a steep pass on the west side, but it's not difficult and there are runaway truck ramps. 2 climb lanes on the eastbound side west of the summit, 2 lanes going down. 2 climb lanes westbound on the east side of the summit, 1 and 2 lanes going down. No shelf road to speak of, IIRC, there are guardrails all the way, and there are some cool pull offs for those photo ops.

US 550, Coal Bank Pass (~10600 feet) and Molas Pass (~10900 feet), is 2 lane roadway all the way to Silerton. IMO, Coal Bank is "meh", is barely noticeable as Colorado Passes go. Molas has a nice overlook parking area, and there's an amazing campground north of the pass (seasonal). Neither are as daunting as their 3rd companion...Red Mountain Pass. That pass itself is not so bad, it's the portion from the summit north to Ouray that is the stuff of legends and much discussion on this and other message boards. Tight switchbacks, avalanche shoots and shelf road with no guardrails and steep drop offs. Yes, truckers and buses do it all the time...and they are professional drivers, accustomed to it. Experienced drivers can handle it.


^^^^^^^^^^ I Agree Great Summary ^^^^^^^^^^


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wildbyon

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Posted: 01/26/20 06:31pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the opinions. We do the passes to Silverton almost every year but have friends to visit this year in South Fork. So, a week there and on to Silverton.

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