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Old 04-24-2019, 09:46 AM
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Help me plan a trip to Colorado...

I have ended up with a lot more vacation this year than my wife. So she suggested I take a couple weeks off and go to Colorado in the Jeep. Who am I to say no to that? So now I need help with trails to hit.

I will have full camping gear, food and water so I hope to find camping in the back country. Campground recommendations or free places to camp are appreciated.

I have a stock JKU but it does have 3.73 gears and factory LSD along with 265-70R17 BFG AT KO2 tires. I don't have a lift, winch or lockers.

I am looking at Engineers Pass and Imogene Pass. Are those to difficult for a stock Jeep going alone? If so, what trails do you recommend? I will have about 10 days for exploring so let me know any an all trails I can get to in that time.

Oh, and my offroad skill level basic. I have done some 4 wheeling going up and down my hunting lease in years past, but nothing to severe. And I will be going solo. I figure if I stick to popular routes someone will come along if I get in trouble, though I intend to drive my Jeep home in one piece so hoping to avoid most trouble.

Thanks.

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Old 04-24-2019, 10:20 AM   #2
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I was in Ouray last year and did all the trails. With your setup you should be fine. The trails are not too technical but you will be on some narrow shelf rock so if you have a fear of heights you may want to be prepared for that.
There is plenty of camping in the area and the scenery is amazing. You should have a fun time as there are plenty of people there doing what you will be doing.
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:44 PM   #3
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I may be doing the same thing in July. I've been going to Yellowstone most years since 1987, but the wife is gone and the kids have lives of their own now so, for the very first time, I may be headed out west... solo.

I will be in the Jeep, but the end goal will not be Jeeping. It will be fishing. The Jeep will get me to the good spots. I want to find a couple of spots off the beaten path to fish in Colorado, Wyoming, and southern Montana.
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Old 04-24-2019, 01:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jp4me View Post
I have ended up with a lot more vacation this year than my wife. So she suggested I take a couple weeks off and go to Colorado in the Jeep. Who am I to say no to that? So now I need help with trails to hit.

I will have full camping gear, food and water so I hope to find camping in the back country. Campground recommendations or free places to camp are appreciated.

I have a stock JKU but it does have 3.73 gears and factory LSD along with 265-70R17 BFG AT KO2 tires. I don't have a lift, winch or lockers.

I am looking at Engineers Pass and Imogene Pass. Are those to difficult for a stock Jeep going alone? If so, what trails do you recommend? I will have about 10 days for exploring so let me know any an all trails I can get to in that time.

Oh, and my offroad skill level basic. I have done some 4 wheeling going up and down my hunting lease in years past, but nothing to severe. And I will be going solo. I figure if I stick to popular routes someone will come along if I get in trouble, though I intend to drive my Jeep home in one piece so hoping to avoid most trouble.

Thanks.
The first time we went to Ouray and Moab we were mostly in the same boat as you as far as tires and equipment.
As long as the snow has melted and the passes are clear you should have no issues doing Engineer Pass or Imogene Pass. There is also Ophir Pass, Black Bear Pass, Corkscrew Pass, Cinnamon Pass, and a few others, in that area. But it is key that the snow has melted.
There are also trails like Yankee Boy Basin and Governor Basin that dead end vs being through trails.
Very few, if any, of the trails in the Ouray area can't be done in a stock or near stock JK / JKU as long as the driver is brave enough. The vertical aspect of those trails is often the hardest part of the trails out there.
I highly recommend the Funtreks book on the area. They have two for Colorado, one for north of I 70 and one for south of I 70. I recommend the one for south of I 70, that one includes the Ouray area. The only issue I have with those books is they lump all the Jeep trails into the "Red" category. There is no distinction between stock Jeep trails and fully modified Jeep trails unless you read the descriptions. And even then you may want to google the trail to see how it rates on other sites.
Finally, if you are out there you are only a day away from Moab. I would recommend you take at least a few days to visit Moab if you haven't done so already.
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Old 04-24-2019, 07:22 PM   #5
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Funny I might be going out solo as well mid July. Last year I was a couple days in telluride prior to a mountain bike trip to Moab and loved it!
This year going on another seven day mountain bike trip from Durango to Moab but planning to spend a few days prior around ouray, telluride and silverton area.
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Old 04-24-2019, 10:21 PM   #6
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This year the Ouray area will be wetter than last. The snowpack is "normal" compared to a minimal, drought-inducing amount last year. So the trails will open much later. Some trails may not be usable until very late in July or into August (Black Bear Pass/Road, for example, will be interesting in mid-July). We were going to try that one this year, but it won't be open due to snow levels until after we head home.

You can do Imogene without a winch, lift or lockers. If you head up to Engineer Pass out of Ouray, using the Mineral Creek Road, there may be a couple of places where you'll wish you had lockers. But we see rental jeeps and other 4x4s without lockers along that road and they don't seem to get stuck. An option is to go to Silverton, then take the road up through Animas Forks and over Engineer from that side. Clear Lake and Governor Basin may not even be accessible this year until August.

We'll be hitting Ophir and perhaps Engineer again over into Lake City. Coming back over Cinnamon. Corkscrew should be a hoot with the snow. Do not go up Poughkeepsie - alone and especially without the requisite lockers and winch.

A good website to follow and get information on trails is:
https://soajeep.com/trail-maps-condi...il-conditions/

Doing it first time - be patient. Go slow uphill and scout on foot anything that looks tough. Drive even SLOWER on the downhill side, in low range and first gear. Scout on foot any spot of the trail where the road disappears from sight, even if it's just a drop of a foot or two. Ask someone else who's going alone if you can pair up and either lead or follow. If I'm alone and someone asks me that question, the answer is "Certainly."

I booked a campsite at Ridgway State Park for July and was shocked at how quickly spots are disappearing. That pay-to-enter, but has showers and bear boxes. Between Ouray and Silverton (closer to Silverton) the road to South Mineral Campground and the Clear Lake 4x4 trail has several places where you can pull over and camp, that aren't technically campgrounds, as well as three (I believe) official Forest Service campgrounds that won't drain your wallet.

In short, trails will depend on when you go. Take your time, don't be in a rush, and enjoy the scenery (when stopped). Hope you have a blast.
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Old 04-25-2019, 05:54 AM   #7
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An absolute must is the Huckleberry ice cream at Smedley's in Silverton!!!!

You didn't say which direction you are coming from but Pike's Peak is a gotta do too.

There is a big gathering of Jeeps in late July that you want to avoid, I couldn't find the dates right now.

Black Bear isn't as bad as its reputation. The one bad corner but it is worth the effort. We didn't go to Yankee Boy or Governor Basins but they are supposed to be awesome.

I've been all around Colorado but never made it to the Great Sand Dunes yet but the Mesa Verde area is amazing.

Another great spot is Estes Park

Black Canyon near Montrose

The peaches will be ripe from Grand Junction and are the best in the world
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Old 04-25-2019, 06:42 AM
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I should have said that I am looking to go in August, maybe mid-August.

Thanks all for the tips; keep them coming if you have them.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:39 AM   #9
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I have never paid for a campsite, prefer the solitude of being in the woods and there are millions of acres of public land in this state. By targeting an area you can then get info by contacting the local USFS office for road conditions as with the snow this year many of the roads/trails may be closed even in August.
There are also many quality fishing areas that are simple day hikes into, camp dispersed and do the hike for the Colorado experience.
Equipment wise a stock Wrangler with decent tires will do what your comfortable with, severe rock crawling or iffy trails will best be served with a winch and a separate journey in my mind.
I have been delayed getting to into my turkey hunting area due to snow covered roads, this was an interesting year for snow.
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Old 04-25-2019, 10:26 AM   #10
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Great thread, just posting so that i can follow along. I might be doing a Colorado trip myself this year.
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Old 04-25-2019, 10:54 AM   #11
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Plan a night in Ouray just to catch a shower and a proper dinner. Wonderful town to visit and the scenery is spectacular. Couple of places to grab a great steak as well.

If you want to get your feet wet, do Ophir first. Nice two hour trip going west and you can drop into Telluride for the best pizza around - https://www.browndogpizza.com (Brown Dog Pizza took 1st at the Pizza World Championships 2015 in Italy).

Access road is about half way between Ophir and Silverton. First few miles are easy peasy and then the rock and climb being. Steep large rock road downhill. Plenty of water crossings too.
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Old 04-25-2019, 11:25 AM   #12
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Plan a night in Ouray just to catch a shower and a proper dinner. Wonderful town to visit and the scenery is spectacular. Couple of places to grab a great steak as well.

If you want to get your feet wet, do Ophir first. Nice two hour trip going west and you can drop into Telluride for the best pizza around - https://www.browndogpizza.com (Brown Dog Pizza took 1st at the Pizza World Championships 2015 in Italy).

Access road is about half way between Ophir and Silverton. First few miles are easy peasy and then the rock and climb being. Steep large rock road downhill. Plenty of water crossings too.
Doing exactly this in late June and staying in Ouray for 3 days and 2 nights. Jeeping, hiking, exploring with my wife and kids. Will be a blast.

For the OP - you should also consider driving over Independence Pass into or out of Aspen. It is spectacularly beautiful and you cross over the Continental Divide. Look one way and all water coming out of the mountains flows to the Pacific Ocean - look the other direction and everything flows to the Atlantic Ocean. Pretty neat and well worth doing. Views are ridiculous there and along the way. A few shots I took last Fall.....................
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Old 04-25-2019, 11:47 AM   #13
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One word of advice is go in early or mid July. We went to the Ouray / Silverton area two years ago during the last week of June and several of the better trails, like Imogene, were still closed due to the snow not melting yet. Those trails opened about 10 days after we left.
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Old 04-25-2019, 11:48 AM   #14
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Wife and I stayed in Glen Haven last summer, and hung out in and around Estes Park. Would go back again in a heartbeat!



Wheeled at Pole Hill





The cabin we stayed in at Glen Haven



One of the views from our cabin.

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Old 04-25-2019, 03:11 PM   #15
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I went last year solo in September. Have been in the past on my motorcycle. I stay in Telluride at the Town Park Campground, hot showers, flush toilets. Lots of camping in the area etc... if you don't want to be right in town.

Did Imogene and Ophir passes. You should have no problems. I did the passes during the week and still saw plenty of people, you won't really be solo.

Go slow and enjoy the scenery.

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