Arkansan vacationing in Colorado needs trail advice for July 2018.

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JK72450

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Arkansas
My family and I are planning on vacationing in Colorado next summer and I could use some input to make the most of the trip. We will be staying in the Ouray/Telluride area ( that's the current plan anyway ) and should have about 5 days to explore. My wife is not the most enthusiastic off-roader but she has agreed to suck it up. She is also fine with staying in town and shopping for a day or two by herself if need be. She's cool like that. So basically I would like some advice on some mild but scenic trails as well as maybe some moderate trails for when she is not with us. My 17 yr old son will stay with me for the harder trips I'm sure. From my research I was thinking maybe The Alpine Loop for starters and maybe work my way up from there. I will be driving a 95 FJ80 with 3" OME suspension and 33x12.50 BFG All Terrains. Everything else is bone stock. If I'm lucky I'll have ARB air lockers by then but I kinda doubt it. My FJ80 is almost perfect inside and out so I would prefer not to bang/scratch it up if possible ( I have a FJ60 for that ).

This I am interested in getting more info on are things like:
  • Is a radio necessary? If so, what kind?
  • Lockers?
  • What kind of maps are necessary? I have a table with forest roads on it for Arkansas and that works great.
  • Can I fly a drone?
  • Lodging. Should I book super early.
  • Are the trails open in July?
  • etc.
The OB forum so far has been great and I know you guys can help me. THANKS!

ONE NORE THING. It would be great to join some sort of group to wheel with. That's always more fun.
 

old_man

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Lodging in Ouray and Telluride is spendy. Silverton, is also but not quite as bad, but very limited.

Trails start opening mid to late July but this can vary significantly.

Drones can be problematic. Check with the forest service. I figure if you aren't obnoxious with it, you are normally fine, but no drones in any national parks.

If you know how to drive, lockers are rarely needed. If it is wet, Imogene or Corkscrew might benefit. Maps are nice. My favorite is from Latitude40 or NatGeo. You should never be very far from other traffic on the trails in that area.

Make sure and get to Yankee Boy Basin. I love Corkscrew. Poukipsee can be challenging for some vehicles.
 
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old_man

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Pretty much only within a group. Most don't even have them turned on.
 

Zerobird

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We stayed at the KOA in Ourray for 4 nights this past summer. Attempted to do most of the alpine loop but only ended up doing Enginer pass , wanted to take Cinnamon pass back from lake city but it was raining most of the day so it took almost 5 hours to do Enginer pass. Was traveling with wife and 2 year old so was another contributing factor as so the slow pace. Didn't want to be on the trail till 8 at night so we took the long highway around back to Qurray Spent a day at the hot springs, was wife's trade off for spending the whole day in the truck the day before, I didn't mind either. There are so many trails to be done up there, your cruiser should be just fine.
 

Wayfarer

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+1 on old_man's comments.

The Mrs. is not too keen on the camping thing for more than a couple days at a time so I've spent some time based out of the local lodging. My advice is book early because it does get busy up there that time of year. You might try up in Ridgway or even Montrose if you don't mind a little bit of a drive to start your day. Also check out Airbnb type sites - sometimes you can find a deal on a condo or home cheaper than a hotel. We've had some good luck with that. We have also stayed in Lake City a few times and love it but it does put you east of many of trails.

Anywhere you "need" lockers is probably somewhere you don't want to go due to the potential for vehicle damage. Maybe checkout the funtreks website (sorry, too new on here to post links yet) to get an idea about the trails in the area. I feel like their ratings are a little conservative at times but, then again, everyone has different equipment, different experiences, and different comfort levels. Some trails out here get elevated ratings more for the potential to hurt (or scare) yourself than the technical difficulty of the trail itself. They also make a nice guidebook for the area that you can find in most books stores out here. I use the same maps as old_man along with the Gaia app - works great.

Check out the Bushducks website for a list of passes and when they open/close. You can review previous years as well to get idea of what to expect. Know that monsoon season starts mid-July or so and runs to latter August. Typically you'll get an afternoon storm but sometimes it will rain all afternoon. It can make some of the trails in the area little more sporty. Depending on the year wildflowers peak towards end of July, beginning of August - making stunning scenery even more so but also another reason you will never be too far from others. If you haven't nailed down dates, you might want to Google for rallies/conventions/gatherings taking place. Some of these events are big enough to make the trails feel like an LA freeway during rush hour.

Oh, and do check out Yankee Boy. Beautiful place - just so happens my avatar was taken at a campsite there.
 

old_man

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Book real early. The rates are far higher in the summer and the later you wait. The Hotel Ouray right down town is a no frills, very old but cool place. It is up stairs with no elevator. Rooms are really small, but beat the hell out of a tent. Personally I kind of like it. Right across the street is a really good coffee shop where they roast their own every day and they have a full scale chocolatier. Make points with the wife and get a couple of "scrap cookies" for the trail. They take all the various chocolate scraps and make a half pound chocolate chip cookie. I have to take an extra shot of insulin for these.

Down stairs is a pretty good Mexican Restaurant.
 

JK72450

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Thanks for the info guys. I already have the funtreks book and map. It seems great.

I have to pick my 2018 vacation days at work in a couple weeks. After that I think I'll start looking for lodging.

Thanks again for the help.



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Corey Carrico

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My family is also so so on off roading but all really enjoyed Yankee Boy Basin. There is a scenic hike from the top that overlooks a couple alpine lakes...it was not the easiest hike but worth it if hiking is your thing
 

Craig M

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Make sure you do some searching for other threads here as there is a bunch of great info. The Alpine Loop thread is a really good one for that area. A couple of other quick recommendations.. I went up there 7 or 8 times before getting this stuff and really wish I had started out with these as they significantly increased my enjoyment:


In addition, Backcountry Navigator for a tablet, if you have one, and download the offline maps to your phone for Google Maps.
 

Craig M

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Thanks for the info guys. I already have the funtreks book and map. It seems great.

I have to pick my 2018 vacation days at work in a couple weeks. After that I think I'll start looking for lodging.

Thanks again for the help.



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I have the Funtrek (Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails) too, but the really preferred the one I linked above. Way more info, more trails, and was easier to use for me. I do like the spiral binding of the Funtrek book but you can get the other with spiral binding too (I saw it in a store in Silverton)

Also, don't overlook Lake City as a possible place to stay. It's much smaller than Silverton and Ouray, and has much more of a mountain town feel, IMO..
 

soonersfan

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You are in for a great trip. We rented a Condo in Ouray right next to the river. It was great. I slept with the door cracked every night just to hear the sound of the rushing water. If Ouray is in your budget, that is where I would recommend staying. I thought it was very reasonable but I didn't compare it to anywhere else. There are plenty of good day hikes out of there, if that is more your wife's speed too. The town is quaint and our kids loved the hot springs.

As for the trails, I would not try Poughkeepsie with your rig. Other than that, the others are manageable if you air down and take it slow. I only used lockers on Poughkeepsie. I did not go with a group but I hooked up with groups I'd meet on the trail several times and we usually communicated via cb. Its not necessary but useful if you end up with a group that uses them. I used the fun treks book and it was very helpful. I don't have experience with anything else to compare it to.

Black Bear pass is amazing and I'm guessing your wife will enjoy Telluride. If you she only goes on one trail, make sure it is that one. It might be a little scary but it really isn't that technical or difficult. The views are simply stunning. We were airing down at the trail head when a group of four pulled in front of us. They had well built rigs and looked like they knew what they were doing. We asked if we could tag along and they were happy to oblige. Its a little more reassuring on that trail when you can follow someone else the first time.

Everything in Telluride will cost at least double what it does anywhere else but it is a neat place to spend the afternoon. It rained every day we were there. The rain storms typically only lasted 30 minutes or so but there was usually some thunder and lighting along with the rain. Nothing to be too concerned about but be prepared for it. Being on top of the mountain with that going on is probably not advisable. Hope you have a great trip. I can't wait to go back.
 

Todbasco

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Spent a couple of days out in that area last year with my son. You're gong to have a great trip. We went the first week of Aug and all the trails were open by then. I used the "Colorado Trails Southwest Region Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails" book It's got lots of info in it. I personally like Gaia Maps on my iPhone and took a Delorme (now Garmin) InReach device. The National Geographic maps mentioned above are great to have along for piece of mind. If you're wife can stand a night or two of camping there's disbursed camping up some forest service roads you can check the forestry service website to find them. We stayed up one just outside Silverton heading toward Ouray it's not very disbursed at the start but the farther up the trail past the "4-Wheel Drive high clearance vehicles only sign you go the more disbursed it gets. As suggested above I'd book as early as you can firm up your dates. We only had a couple of nights there as we were headed on west to Moab. Woke up to 30 degrees in CO and it was 107 in Moab when we got there mid-afternoon. I can't wait to get back out there one of these days. This year is a coastal year in our household. I have a HAM licence but only took a CB on that trip and didn't use it. I did use the text by satellite feature on the InReach device to keep my wife updated and would have probably done the same even if she was just in town instead of back here in Arkansas. Not much cell coverage in that area once you get away from town, at least not on the couple of trails we ran. If you have time the trail up to Kite Lake from Silverton is beautiful and not as busy as some of the others.

Happy Trails!
Todbasco
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Todbasco

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Need to make a minor correction to the post above.... Got to reminiscing and looked back thru my books. The book the with the trail up to Kite Lake is actually "Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails". The other book I referenced above (which has some interesting history on the area) has much more detail about the trail up to Stoney Pass (trail 26 pg 175) and references the turn to go to Kite Lake but doesn't actually describe the trail to the lake. Thinking back I probably used both books. As a side note the disbursed camping I mentioned is along CR7/FR585. It's described in both books (Clear Lake, Bandora Mine) we camped up toward Bandora Mine. Here's a couple of pics looking up and down the creek we camped near. Plenty of existing fire rings up there; we didn't make a camp fire that night as I had neglected to grab a bundle of wood at the store and it was pretty wet that night.

Bandora Mine Camp site 800x600.jpg

Bandora Mine Campsite 2 800x600.jpg

A few other groups up there but it was a very enjoyable spot.

Happy Trails,
Todbasco
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JDGreens

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Jans photos 621 (1024x576) (2).jpg Jans photos 578 (576x1024).jpg Jans photos 700 (576x1024).jpg We stayed at the Matterhorn inn in Ouray the first time we went down to that area, it is a nice motel that offer two different breakfests. A regular spread in the lobby or the option to take a valture to the quaint little deli for a couple of options of hot breakfest (really nice) do be sure to book ASAP because like others have said the earlier you book the more money you save for the very same room.

I am planning on going in August 3th-6th I am going to car camp this time around as my wife is going to stay home. So I am preparing for my journey right now.

You mentioned you already have the fun-treks book, I am going to use my wife Samung Nook for navigation with back country navigator loaded on it. You can load the trails from you Fun-Treks book onto it for realativly cheap. Then just load the tiles from the area you are going to be in and you will have off-line navigation with the partner book for your trip. The other poster is right though the other book has much more history (stories about the area) that makes the adventure pretty cool. When we were down there a couple years ago I picked up a great pocket guild of the Alpine Loop that is pretty handy also.

I hope you get the chance to tour all the towns and do check out the pool in Ouray it is nicer than the hot springs pool in Glennwood if you ask me.

I know you will have a great time Ouray and the surrounding towns has now become one of my favorite places in Colorado.
 
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JK72450

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View attachment 50599 View attachment 50598 View attachment 50596 We stayed at the Matterhorn inn in Ouray the first time we went down to that area, it is a nice motel that offer two different breakfests. A regular spread in the lobby or the option to take a valture to the quaint little deli for a couple of options of hot breakfest (really nice) do be sure to book ASAP because like others have said the earlier you book the more money you save for the very same room.

I am planning on going in August 3th-6th I am going to car camp this time around as my wife is going to stay home. So I am preparing for my journey right now.

You mentioned you already have the fun-treks book, I am going to use my wife Samung Nook for navigation with back country navigator loaded on it. You can load the trails from you Fun-Treks book onto it for realativly cheap. Then just load the tiles from the area you are going to be in and you will have off-line navigation with the partner book for your trip. The other poster is right though the other book has much more history (stories about the area) that makes the adventure pretty cool. When we were down there a couple years ago I picked up a great pocket guild of the Alpine Loop that is pretty handy also.

I hope you get the chance to tour all the towns and do check out the pool in Ouray it is nicer than the hot springs pool in Glennwood if you ask me.

I know you will have a great time Ouray and the surrounding towns has now become one of my favorite places in Colorado.
Thanks again. I have decided that we are going to check out Moab as well. I am in the deep planning stages now. I really appreciate the insight.

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JDGreens

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How much time do you have on your hands? If you have a couple of weeks I would defiantly go for a trip like that. If you have a companion rig you might be able to make one heck of an adventure (overlanding trip) because you could skirt up to Montrose and run the Rim Rocker Trail out to Moab If there was enough time. We went to Moab last year via that trail. (did the trail because a couple of guys from my club were doing it the same weekend and I really wanted to check that trail out so that when my trailer is complete I can do it again with my trailer in tow), But if your going out there to mainly see the parks and not so much to wheel driving the asphalt for your wife's sake would be much better. Whether your going to wheel or just sight see Moab is great!!! Too, I highly recommend Jaxs" restaurant for a meal or two. (make sure someone gets the Pizza/salad bar and get a bowl of Beer Cheese soup to dunk the crust in Amazing!!!)

One thing to note about Ouray, Telluride, Lake City, Silverton and Durango is if you only do a couple of easy trails and explore these towns you and your wife will have the time of your life. When we went a couple of years ago we only ran Yankee Boy Basin (I main goal was to have a great time with my wife and daughter and grand kids. and do some recon for this years trip which is going with the guys and gals that truly have a passion for wheeling the back country.
 
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JDGreens

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We did stay at the KOA in Moab. I know a lot of people hate how over crowded KOAs are but just how much time do you stay at your lodging in a place like Moab-Bryce Canyon-Ouray Ect, ect. Personally I like the Idea more so than leaving my trailer secluded in a back country camping spot where some one can raid and pilferage your camp while your off exploring. I also like the fact that you have all the amenities at a fraction of the cost of a room. (we tent camped out in Moab. It was hot but once the sun went down it became very comfortable and we were to exhausted that once it did cool down we were out! ). You can get a spot with electricity in most KOA's for about $35 a night and if it got cold at night you could heat up ur tent with a ceramic electric heater instead of some kind of propane set-up. Just something to consider to help with budgeting your trip. One thing you can't plan is the weather though.

Man I can't wait to see how your trip goes!
 

trikebubble

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I couldn't see when in July you are going so just a heads up that the July 1st long weekend was a total gong show when we were in Ouray 2 years ago. Their was a traffic jam at the beginning of The Alpine Loop (Mineral Creek trail). We were able to make it up the Mineral Creek trail late int the afternoon, and it was mazing. Most folks had either come down, or were coming back down, so we pretty much had the upwards route to ourselves. We camped out up towards the end of Mineral Creek trail, before the Engineer Pass trail. We then took Engineer Pass up to the summit early the next morning and it was breathtaking. I would love to take that route again sometime.
 

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