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Open Roads Forum  >  Roads and Routes

 > Durango, CO to Baggs, WY

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rvdivers

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Posted: 08/09/22 02:37pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Heading north out of Durango on US 550; catch Hwy 50 at Montrose to Grand Junction, I-70 to Rifle & north on State Rt 13 through Craig to Baggs...any problems? We're 40' diesel pusher hauling. Want to avoid Denver [emoticon]
Thanks!!


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Posted: 08/09/22 03:37pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

US 550 crosses three high passes between Durango and Montrose. you will be on the outside lane most of the time. lots of climbing, descending and curves. Beautiful, but not something I would enjoy in a big motorhome. There is an alternative route out of Cortez CO but I've never done it...only seen it mentioned here on the forum.
After Montrose, no problem with 71 or 13. There is a nice rest stop sponsored by the Lions club at Rifle, just after you cross over 71 going north into Rifle.


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enblethen

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Posted: 08/09/22 03:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

550 is for experienced drivers. If in no hurry and like to take it easy. Great scenery!


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BarabooBob

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Posted: 08/09/22 06:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you are an experienced mountain driver you will not have any problems with 550. It is absolutely beautiful. Stop frequently to enjoy the views. Don't be in a hurry and you will enjoy it.
If you are not an experienced mountain driver, you may want to avoid 550.
Loaded semi's go over that road year round without problems.


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4runnerguy

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Posted: 08/09/22 09:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As others have stated, US 550 is steep and narrow, yet used by many RV's and semis every year. If you're used to mountain driving, go for it. Do pull over from time to time when traffic builds up behind you. Also, when you pull over the driver will actually get a chance to look at the scenery as otherwise their eyeballs are glued to the road. Red Mountain and Molas Passes are both listed as 7%+ grades by CDOT. Google Maps shows it as a two-hour drive, but given picture stops and traffic, plan on a minimum of three hours.

The alternate route, (US 160 - CO 145 - CO 62) is an easier route but still quite scenic.

Of course, as you near Grand Junction, take 32 Road/CO 141 through Clifton and up to I-70.

As you approach Rifle, take the West Rifle Exit (87) and then east to CO 13 and north. This avoids going through town on a busy and not very wide road. Not much fun in a big rig.

Along your route, Montrose will be your best bet for provisions and the like. Walmart and City Market (a Kroger subsidiary) are both on the south end of town with lots of other stores and restaurants.


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rr2254545

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Posted: 08/10/22 06:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

No way in heck I would take 550 north again - took it last year in my 37ft motor home pulling our Jeep - worst road ever in my almost 100,000 miles of driving a motor home - this is what the road looks like - sure they told be online it was OK to take - but I differ !!!

[image]

* This post was edited 08/10/22 07:14am by rr2254545 *


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GizmosMom

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Posted: 08/10/22 08:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In addition to the perils of driving on Highway 550, please note that there is ongoing construction on US Highway 50 between Montrose and Gunnison.

US 50 Info


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BarryG20

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Posted: 08/10/22 09:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have driven 550 enough times that it doesn't phase me at all, never really did so my view may be jaded a bit compared to others. Yes there are some pulls over it for sure Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes. Yes there are some twisty curveys on it. Yes there are some areas where there are no guardrails and it is a long way down. However that road is not a seasonal road it is open year round for the most part, an occasional big snowstorm may close it for a day or two while they clear snow. Those guardrails aren't there so that they have a place to push the snow off the road in the winter. Nothing I personally consider any worse than many other mountain passes. Yes you have to pay attention to the road and your driving but you should be anyway.

As has been mentioned multiple times already there are quite a few pullouts and places to stop. Take your time Durango to Ouray is about 70 miles. The picture above while accurate for sure is not representative of the road in general. There is only a mile two at the most like that just south of Ouray and in that section there is no place to pull over except at one end or the other.

It is one of the more beautiful routes in the state without question. However going around it over to Cortez and up 145 to 62 I think is also a very beautiful drive. In fact sometimes I will go up one way and come back the other if I have the time as it will definitely add time.

It certainly comes down to your personal comfort level and I for one while in this post am pretty much saying it is not that big of a deal would prefer less people take it might free up some camping spaces over there that are hard enough to come by as it is these days. Perhaps I should be saying how terrible it is and avoid it all costs instead.


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rvdivers

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Posted: 08/10/22 11:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks guys for all the assistance! Not going to Gunnison so won't worry about construction on Hwy 50. Had heard about the nasty delays.

Thanks also for the alternate route idea (145 to 62). Notice that on both of those roads there is notation on my maps of "tunnels". On 145 it looks like "Lizard Head Pass" and on 62 it looks listed as "Dallas Divide". We are 13'2". Any idea of the limitations on those tunnels? Guess I could check Colorado Dept of Transportation/Highways, they may have them listed.

BarryG20 may take your suggestion about going one way, coming back the other! See more country. We've traveled some very "interesting" roads on our travels and hubby (driver) is comfortable and accomplished with roads like in the photo. He used to travel code 3 on very curvy roads with no guardrails. I as the "nagivator"[emoticon] am more the white knuckle rider but enjoy the scenery so won't limit his skills. He'd much rather deal with narrow roads and drop offs than driving through SLC or Denver during rush hour or any time for that matter.

Again, thanks for input. Appreciate it!!

* This post was edited 08/10/22 12:15pm by rvdivers *

paulj

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Posted: 08/10/22 02:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lizzard Head is the name of the pass on 145, but I don't think there's a tunnel on that route. I suppose you need the Mtn Directory to be sure. I haven't driven it south of the Ophir turn off.

62 must cross some sort of pass between drainage basins, but it's not significant.

GM suggests an alternative NW to Moab, and then east on I70. It's longer, but avoids all passes.

There is a tunnel on 550, a bit south of Oury, that's signed 13-7. I remembered it from various videos, and found it on Google Maps Sat view by the gap.

While some tunnels cut under the highest point, saving a last minute steep climb, more often they are found in canyon stretches, cutting through a spur or ridge that runs right down to the river. These tend to be shorter, and not well known.

The main challenge on 550 for big RVs (and passing traffic) is the set of tight curves around Red Mtn. They are tight enough that a big rig might have to straddle the center line.

* This post was edited 08/10/22 03:07pm by paulj *

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