2012 - 2017 Travel Map - Now in the Bad Lands National Park, South Dakota

Steep Mountain Travel to Gypsum CO

September 18 - 19, 2013   

This should be a short Blog post.  We are just here in Gypsum CO as a stopover to get to Arches National Park in Utah. We are here just 2 nights so we can get ready for the next couple of weeks of National Parks and the Balloon Festival the first weekend of October in Albuquerque NM.

Wednesday the 18th we left Golden CO for a 125 mile trip to Gypsum CO in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  We picked Gypsum for a stopover due to it being far enough so that our next trip to Arches National Park would be within reach at 215 miles.  Also, the first part of the trip out of Denver is very steep with grades of up to 7% for the first 30 miles. I wasn't sure how much fuel that would take so we decided to make the shorter trip first.

As advertised, I70 out of Denver starts out very steep with a lot of traffic.  A couple of places I had the accelerator floored on the F-450 and was holding a speed of only 45.  The truck, however, handled it fine.  No increase in either engine or transmission temperatures.

On I70 leaving Denver CO.

First mountain tunnel on I70 West.

Coming into Breckenridge CO.

At about 50 miles in we hit the Eisenhower Tunnel at Dillon, CO.  This tunnel is at 11,200 feet up in the Rockies.  That was our highest point.  Then there was the decent side of 7% grade of 6-7 miles at a time.  I have no problems with going down with this truck.  It doesn't have the “Jake Brake” but it does have a feature that allows the transmission and computer to control the braking as part of the Tow/Haul mode.  

This is a little scary at the height restriction is 13' 11" and we are 12' 10".  This tunnel is at 11,059 feet elevation.

Inside the Eisenhower tunnel

When I reach the speed I don't feel comfortable with going over (around 60 mph) I just put on the brakes and slow to 10 MPH lower than what I was going.  Then, when I let off the gas the on-board computer controls the trucks transmission to try and hold the truck speed.  

At 7% grade, the system cannot hold the speed to where I had braked too.  So I let the speed build back up and then I brake again.  This system of manual braking and then letting the truck control the braking allows the brakes to stay cool. We didn't have any problems navigating the downhills at all.

Anyway, I70 out of Denver is very scenic.  This is something you just need to drive to appreciate the views.  Patty took some pictures but it is very hard to do justice with our phone camera.

On the right is a truck stopping ramp.  I would hope we never need to use that!

Just out side the Eisenhower Tunnel was the highest elevation we drove on.

Just a great view of mountain streams.

We arrived at our campground, River Dance RV Park, around 3:30.  We should have arrived by 2:30 but Garmin and Google maps did not play nice with the bad road signs when we exited I70. We were to take US6 West which runs more or less next to I70. When you exit off of I70 here you go into a traffic circle with Frontage Road (what we needed to be on) and US6 exits.  The US6 exit did not define East or West.  So, we took the US6 exit, 3 times, because we just kept turning around and coming back.  Patty finally called the campground and they told us to take Frontage Road as that was US6 West.  GREAT!

Thursday the 19th we needed to get laundry done and I wanted to get the truck washed.  The laundry here doesn't have a change machine and we don’t have enough quarters.  So we went in to the town of Gypsum to wash the truck and we would get quarters there as well. After washing the truck we went to the gas station and filled up the tank.  Then off to the grocery store for stuff to make a pot of Chili tonight. 

Entrance to our campground.  Our rig is on the right.

Our site

Behind our site is the Eagle River that flows into the Colorado a few miles away. Looking east.

Another view also looking east

View looking west

At the campground office

Just a nice view of our site at sunset.

We are at just below 7,000 feet here and surrounded by mountains.  To say the least, it is a breathtaking view just to do laundry at the campground.  The weather is also cold at night.  Tonight the temperature is to be a low of 36.  Brrrrr!!! So a pot of Chili sounded good for a cold mountain air night.

Tomorrow we head into Utah and the Arches National Park. This will start our 2013 tour of 5 National Parks; Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest.


Stay Tuned!

3 comments:

IL Camper said...

Mark, great post on your trip through the mountains. Looking ofrward to reading about your experiences in the National Parks. Safe travels. Curt
P.S. what GPS do you use? I have not seen one with elevation. Maybe the one I have has it but I didn't notice or don't have that set up.

Steve and Dianne said...

I like your camping spot!
If your in the area check out Goose Neck State Park. Free camping with no services but you are overlooking a meandering San Juan River 1000' below. From here you can also just see in the distance a bit of Monument Valley Arizona...about an hour away. Also not far away from there is Moki Dugway with fantastic views. Then there is Valley of the Gods. This is on a very good dirt road that loops back to the main highway.

Debbie McCormack said...

Looks beautiful! I can't wait to see pictures of Bryce. That is my favotite! I can't wait to go back once we head out to FT next June!