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Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

michigan
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Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

We will be in Durango/Ouray then on to Taos and Santa Fe beginning to mid August. We are starting out in Durango and then driving up to Ouray. (We will be taking the day train to Silverton) We were going to go up to Ouray through Silverton and then on to Telluride, then spend the night in Ouray and on to Taos... but it seems a bit of a drive. Would it be better if we drove 145 stopping in Telluride, and on to Ouray via 62. I was reading about the Alpine Loop and that certainly would make our drive with less back tracking. I am concerned about the roads. We would be driving the loop from Ouray to Lake City and taking 149 down to Taos. According to the brouchure you are able to drive all 4WD vehicles on the Loop. However other readings suggest only Jeep type vehicles. We will be driving a Tahoe, will this to too large to navigate this section of the Loop? If so any other route suggestions?

Edited: 15 July 2010, 04:43
Santa Fe, New Mexico
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1. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

There are portions of the Alpine Loop that are ok for regular cars and SUV's. The road from Ouray to Lake City is not one of those and Engineer Pass requires a high clearance 4x4. coloradodot.info/travel/…alpine-loop

If you do not want to backtrack then drive to Montrose, over to Black Canyon of the Gunnison, then south to Lake City and on to Taos.

Ouray, Colorado
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2. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

I agree with CasaAzul. You will want to skip the portion of Engineer pass from Ouray to the top of the pass. It really requires a short wheel base vehicle at this point with high clearance. A tahoe might not cut it.

michigan
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3. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

What about the lower part of the loop instead?

Ouray, Colorado
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4. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

Do you have experience in 4WD vehicles? and on these types of roads? If you have experience, you can modify the loop to include CorkScrew Pass and swing into Silverton via Hurricane and California Gulch. A Tahoe should be able to handle that portion. If you are headed to Lake City, you can catch Cinnimon Pass at Animas Forks. You can also just head down from Cork Screw into Silverton and pass the Silverton Ski area. Does this make sense to you?

michigan
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5. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

My husband is a very seasoned driver...4wd..tractors.. race cars...so I think he could handle it. How long would it take to get from Ouray to Lake City?

One other question. If we go up to Ouray through Silverton...Telluride is really a hike...Is Telluride a must?

North Platte...
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6. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

Howdy pj,

It sounds like you will have a great time. I believe Telluride is worth it!

Here is a couple of sites to give you a feel for the area and some trails.

youtube.com/user/…oHHvcUaiDSM

www.narrowgauge.org/4x4/html/engineer.html

Happy trails,

SandBilly

Ouray, Colorado
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7. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

Actually, since you will be 4WD, then, it isn't all that bad. You can take Ophir Pass over which is a pretty mild 4WD road. You catch the road off of US 550 on the Silverton side of Red Mtn Pass and it ends in the small town of Ophir which is about 5-7 miles away from Mtn Village. I think it would only be 2 hrs but it would be a beautiful drive and it would be fun!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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8. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

So I had some spare time...watched some Youtube videos...Check these out to see if this is something you want to drive..

Cinnamon Pass up from Silverton - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvkspFMHX9I

Engineer Pass - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSI_HmnB9i8

After looking at many videos...I think we would have been able to make it in our Dodge Ram150 4x4 truck... too bad we had to sell it.

Don't plan on saving time, but have a wonderful trip.

WestSlope,CO
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9. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

Is your Tahoe a rental vehicle? If so, read your rental contract carefully as it may very likely not allow you to travel on off-highway routes like much of the Alpine Loop or Ophir Pass. And you may incur charges for every ding in the paint and for every day the car is out of service if repairs have to be made (Please read SusieLou's post on this thread if you are renting a car: tripadvisor.com/…26380196 )

If you just have the one day to spend traveling part of the San Juan Skyway and you are concerned about the drive time and not having enough time in Ouray, then maybe you could skip Telluride. But if your objective is a beautiful scenic drive and visiting picturesque, historic mountain towns, then do keep Telluride on the itinerary. You could drive the 145>62 route or you could go as you originally thought, from Ouray to Ridgway to Telluride and back. If you are concerned about the backtrack, I don't think you'd mind it, as it is a gorgeous drive. If you are driving your own vehicle, then the Ophir Pass to Telluride, then to Ridgway and Ouray would be fun.

If I understand correctly, the second part of the question is how to get to Lake City so you can drive south on 149 to 160 to 285 to Taos? If you are not driving your own vehicle, I wouldn't take the Alpine Loop route. But the drive around by Montrose to Hwy50 to 149 won't take much more time, if any, than the Alpine Loop because it is pretty slow going.

Here's my suggested Itinerary:

Day 1. Arrival, Durango activities

Day 2. Durango Silverton train. Earliest departure, train up, bus back. Drive to Telluride via 145. Overnight Telluride.

Day 3. Drive to Ouray, 145>62>550.

Day 4. Drive to Taos. Either 550 S to Durango>Pagosa etc or Montrose>50>149 etc.

10. Re: Ouray to Taos...Alpine Loop driving

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