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Best route from Moab to Telluride

Old Lyme...
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Best route from Moab to Telluride

We'll be driving from Moab to Telluride in the 2nd week of September. It seems our options are to head north to Grand Junction and then down to Telluride (least preferred option, as it would entail some backtracking); heading south towards Dolores and then to Telluride; or following Utah 46 to CO 90, 141 and then 145. Any recommendations or insight into travel conditions or the scenic potential of the routes would be appreciated!

Montrose, Colorado
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1. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

Our preferred route is to leave Moab going south on 191. Then east on UT-46 towards Colorado. It turns into CO-90 then CO-141, CO-145 to Telluride. It's beautiful and scenic and the most direct way. The weather during that time should not be an issue, but you can always get current travel conditions for Colorado at www.cotrip.org

The peak color is usually the end of September -- but this route will take you through beautiful scenery anyway.

However, if you have time to visit Mesa Verde National Park between Cortez and Durango, then going south through Cortez would be preferred. Mesa Verde is really great and a quick visit could be done in a day.

Old Lyme...
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2. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

Thanks, Shellking! That's the route I hoped someone would recommend. We visited Mesa Verde on our last trip to your beautiful state, and unfortunately won't have the time to re-visit this trip. We did love the park, even though it happened to rain our entire stay. Another question, if you don't mind. Would you recommend 133 from Delta to Glenwood Springs as a drive, when we're leaving Telluride?

Coal Creek, Colorado
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3. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

Greg,

I make the trip from Boulder to Telluride frequently and have tried most of the routes. Highway 133 (Delta to Glenwood) is one of my favorites. Traffic is usually light and the scenery is spectacular. Another part of the drive that I enjoy, but some people might find stressful, is that there are some narrow, twisty stretches, especially going over McClure Pass. It's not dangerous or challenging, but some people might not enjoy it.

Old Lyme...
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4. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

Envirogypsy1 - Thanks for the info! Don't mind the twisty, mountain roads a bit if the scenery is beautiful. Look forward to HIghway 133.

WestSlope,CO
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5. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

Will you have a day or two to explore Telluride? If you do, be sure to drive as far as Lizard Head Pass while you're there. It's one of the most scenic spots in the state, IMO. Overall, I like the drive from Moab to Telluride the way you and ShellKing have discussed, but wow, Rico to Telluride is gorgeous, too, so if you have a little time, I'd sure put it on the itinerary to go at least as far as Lizard Head Pass. You can hike, or there are plenty of places to pull off, turn around and look at the mountains all around.

London, United...
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6. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

We are planning to drive from Moab to Telluride (and then on to Glenwood Springs) early June, but plan to stop off in Durango in between for say 3 nights. We would travel the Durango-Silverton railway (one-way and get bus back). So as to not to cover the Durango/Silverton stretch twice, would it make sense to drive Durango to Telluride via 160 to Mancos, then 184 to Dolores, and 145 to Telluride?

Grand Junction...
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7. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

That time of the year I would ride from Moab into Durango, head up over the 550 to Ouray, head west to Ridgway pick up 62 ride it to the 145 and take that to Telluride. That gives you Red Mountain Pass and Lizard head pass. Stay at Telluride then head back on the 145 to the 141 and come into junction through Gateway.

If you do not wish to go to Grand Junction, take the road back to Ridgway, run to 50 east in Montrose. Take that to the 135 and ride it to the 12, the 12 will dump you out at Paonia State Park where you can pick up the 133 through Carbondale to Glenwood Springs. But when you come out in Carbondale, if you have time head to Aspen, go through it and ride to the top of Independence pass.

Edited: 06 August 2013, 21:36
London, United...
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8. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

Very helpful, bbally. Assume this gives sufficient time to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP which I wanted to do in any case?

The 12 appears to go through Kebler Pass en route to the Paonia SP and 133. Is this and whole route likely to be passable ie ice/snow free in first week in June and doable in average rental car and not 4 X 4 ?

WestSlope,CO
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9. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

Ray, Kebler pass is not paved all the way, so is not recommended for rental cars as the contracts almost always prohibit off highway travel. Some people do it, as it is a maintained road, but I've just heard too many reports of people having car trouble, having to be towed, and then finding out they are liable for the tow, the repair and the loss of service while the car was repaired. Besides that, it is at 10,000 feet and there aren't any guarantees it will be open the first week of June. McClure Pass is paved and is a beautiful drive. (Hwy 133) Check the road conditions before you set out, whichever route you want to take. If for some reason McClure was closed, you could always go around by Grand Junction.

I would probably take the route described in post #1 from Moab to Telluride to Dolores to Mancos to Durango. After Durango, drive to Silverton and Ouray. You see much different scenery from the train than you do from the highway. Yes, you'll cover the road between Durango and Silverton again as you go north, but you won't regret it. It's a gorgeous drive and you'll be able to stop at the overlooks. Then you'll also get to do the Million Dollar Highway between Silverton and Ouray. By doing this, you will have almost completed the entire San Juan Skyway loop. You'll have missed the section between Ridgway and the place where you turned off toward Telluride. If you have time that day, drive on to Ridgway (or half way there so you can see the beautiful views of the San Juans to the south) and back before you turn toward Placerville...yes, another short backtrack, but again, you won't regret it.

Okay, back to the route from Durango north--head on to Montrose and the Black Canyon. Allow at least an hour or two there (more if hiking or you want to go to all the overlooks plus the East Portal), then on to Glenwood. Have two routes in mind, depending on how much time you have, the weather, and what you feel like. After the Black Canyon, if you feel like it and it is still early afternoon, continue on Hwy 50 east to Hwy 92, where you'll head north to intersect 133 at Hotchkiss. This is scenic, but very winding and slow in places. If you'd rather make a little better time, drive through Montrose and Delta to Hotchkiss, etc. And the quickest route is to go toward Grand Junction, take a right at the light just after Whitewater toward Clifton, where you'll intersect the Interstate.

Well, I guess there's one more scenic route I'll add--you could go to Delta, then to Cedaredge, then over Grand Mesa to intersect the Interstate. You'd very likely see snow that way, but they keep the highway open over the Mesa year round.

Grand Junction...
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10. Re: Best route from Moab to Telluride

i drive it on the motorbike all the time with the wife and gear. it is a well maintained road good for any car. rental or not. that said i thought this was for a september ride?

june riding is usually no problem however in a heavy snow year you would want to check the COtrip website or send me a message end of may. if it is open i will have motorbiked it and can let you know.