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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Denver through Four corners loop.

    Intro/ Day 1

    After a lot of "will we, won't we" get there moments for various reasons during the build up to our trip and it finally happened, I would like to share our experience with you. This is our second RV trip to the USA and the plan was to see the Rocky mountains, tour Colorado and head back into Utah to see some of the places we didn't get to see on our first trip, such as Canyonlands, Arches and Mesa Verde, before heading to Four corners and into New Mexico and back through Colorado to Denver, completing the loop.
    You can see our starting itinerary here and the advice I was offered. [Thanks fellas].

    At 4am on the morning of Sun 27th Sept we left home for the airport to catch our 7.45am flight to Denver via Chicago. Originally it was booked as a direct flight but airline cut backs resulted in us having to change planes as our original flight no longer existed.

    On arrival in Chicago we had little time to make our connection which wasn't made any easier by the fact we had to get from Terminal 5 to term 1, security check in was a nightmare and I was still recovering from a bad back injury. Hobbling across the airport with my boots still in my hand and my back killing me, we were greeted by a woman clapping her hands shouting "Hurry hurry, hurry up !" [If looks could kill Lol !]

    At least we made the connection and arrived in Denver on time, well the 4 of us and 3 of our suitcases did, the other suitcase was missing. The airport said they would send it on to the Hotel later when it was located, during which time we missed our shuttle bus to the Hotel and had to wait another hour. A long, tiring day but we were happy to be here !

    [ Tip ] It's always worth packing suitcases with half and half contents so if this happens to you, you don't need to go out in your wife's dress or her in your suit for the evening, luckily Simon and Louise had done this.]

    The Hotel we chose didn't have great reviews but it was near to the airport, offered a free shuttle and I was pleasantly surprised. It's not in a great location for a long stay, but it was great value for an overnight stop.

    A nice view [and poor photo] of Cherry creek state park and downtown Denver from the room.

    It was around 3pm [local time] when we arrived at the Hotel and to get our body's adjusted to the time difference we had decided we would head straight out rather than crashing out, so we called a cab and went to the Cherry creek shopping mall before eating in the "Cherry cricket" bar. Good food and a great atmosphere, although hard to appreciate having been up for almost 24 hours. A couple of cold beers to celebrate Simon and Louise's 1st anniversary [our Son and DIL] and it was back to the Hotel for a hot drink and it's time for bed.

    Much to our disappointment the missing suitcase hasn't arrived, which is worrying as we are on the road at 10.30am.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-14-2009 at 04:24 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 2, RV collection.

    We wake at around 7am feeling a little weary but it's the day we pick up the RV and the excitement kicks in. I wander down to reception to enquire about the missing case to discover that it had arrived at 1 30am and that 'it' and Louise had been reunited, great news ! I pop my head out the front of the Hotel to a wonderful morning and boy, it feels good. I go back to our room to make a call to "Lifey", a member on here [Lifemagician] who is on her own incredible journey. We had exchanged messages and "loosely" arranged to meet. A phone call and 20 or so minutes later she had joined us at the breakfast table where we had a chat and she kindly gave us travel leaflets that she had collected while in the area.

    Time wooshed by and before we knew it we were saying our goodbyes as our car arrived to take us to the RV depot. We had arranged an early pick up to get us on the road before midday and Cruise America had everything ready for us as arranged, so a compulsory 20 min video of how it all works and a vehicle inspection later we were on our way !

    We stop just up the road to get some provisions, sort ourselves out and then it's a quick trip on I 36 to Boulder where we get on the 119 [Boulder canyon drive] to Nederland, a scenic choice that we enjoyed.

    We stopped on the lake at Nederland for some lunch before continuing on the 'Peak to Peak Highway' towards Estes park.

    The scenery is quite something on the way,

    On route we stop at "Lily lake" and walk around it to stretch our legs and breath that good 'ol mountain air.

    Lily lake.

    After our walk we head to the Morraine campground in Rocky mountain NP and locate our site before heading into Estes park for an evening meal. At the entrance we buy an annual pass for $80 which for our trip will be cheaper than paying individually at each entrance.

    It is Elk rutting season and as we make our way to the Campground there are a lot of 'Elk spotters' parked on either side of the road, with many more coming and going, making it slow going getting the RV through the narrow gaps, although it's worth it.

    I love the RV lifestyle and it's moments like this, when you are parked up in the heart of nature, with a deadly silence [other than the weird screams of the Elks] it makes driving this "lump on wheels" worthwhile, brilliant !

    More coming soon !
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-14-2009 at 04:15 AM. Reason: Added title

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 3

    Bear lake road.

    Clear blue sky's greet us this morning after a great first nights sleep in our "home" for the rest of the trip. Sitting out on the bench alone with a cup of coffee, looking across the Meadow at a couple of Elks grazing it all starts to "sink in," we're back and boy does it feel good ! Breaking my thoughts, a Chipmunk decides to come and join me for breakfast and to enjoy the peace and tranquility.

    We had already decided on a nice relaxing day to catch our breath after the long flight and collecting the RV, so it was a short drive up Bear Lake Rd to walk around a few of the lakes accessible from the Trial head. We were on our way by 8.30am as the Bear lake parking lot can fill early, and it's not so easy finding a "small" spot in a 30ft RV, the drive up there was fantastic.

    The parking lot was still pretty empty and I was surprised that there were no RV/bus parking bays so I went to the furthest corner of the lot to get out of everyone's way and parked. We had something to eat in the RV and headed for the lake.

    Bear lake

    On the way to Nymph lake

    Nymph lake

    And we continue our walk to Dream lake

    And finally to Emerald Lake.

    We could have gone further but my dodgy back was "moaning" and we still had other things to do so it was back to the RV for lunch before heading back down the Bear lake road to Sprague lake. The parking lot was now full and some inconsiderate so and so had parked right across the front of us [not in a designated bay] and with a car less than 2ft to the rear and inches from a high kerb it took 8 to 10 manoeuvres to get out of there.

    With a shallow stream feeding into the lake it was popular with kids and parents alike to try a little fishing. The fish lay there in the warmer shallows happy to entertain the folks but I am sure one of those fish rolled his eyes and shook his head at their attempts, Lol.

    We walked a complete loop of Sprague lake.


    We left Sprague lake and headed into Estes park for some provisions and logs for the fire pit before heading back to the campground. Once again we came across the Elk spotters as a large herd had congregated by the road.

    I am sure that the word had been put out, that there were a lot of them at this spot last night, and even more had gathered to witness the bizarre behaviour of these creatures tonight. Of course I am talking about the Elk returning to study the behaviour of these strange looking two legged creatures !

    We returned to our site and Simon and I lit the campfire while Lezli [the wife] and Louise made a wonderful "home cooked" pasta dish. We sat around the campfire and washed down the food with a few cold beers [top of the provisions list ;-) ] and enjoyed our very own "Elk sound and visual" display in the meadow before turning in for the night. I had a smile on my face like that of a kid in a sweet shop, LOVE IT !!

    Next we head over the Trial ridge road [weather permitting] and onto Leadville.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-14-2009 at 04:36 AM. Reason: Fixed photo link.

  4. #4


    Looking forward to reading the rest of your adventure (and noted the tip about the case!) I wanna get back on the road now :(

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Yeah, this is good stuff


    Driving a RV with a sore back -- is kind of a tough assignment -- but I am enjoying the tale!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 4.

    Trial ridge road to Leadville.

    Today was a day I was really looking forward to and hoping the weather held out for our trip over the highest continuous paved road in America, the Trial ridge rd that crosses Rocky mountain park between Estes park and Grand lake. We were also going to cross the Continental divide 3 times in a day, at Milner, Berthoud and Loveland passes.

    The pass had closed the week before we travelled and this morning had some nasty looking storm clouds over the mountains, so it was a shower, breakfast and on the road early to try and take our chance.

    The road was open so it was up we went, the dark clouds looming in the distance. We had a downpour as we travelled through the "Many parks curves" section, but it was brief and as we got to Rainbow curve the sun came out, so it begs the question, is their always a Rainbow at Rainbow curve ;-)

    We drove through this rainbow and although their was no pot of gold as we had imagined, I think we found one in the views.

    We continue to climb

    And it just seems to keep on getting better.

    As we get near to Forest canyon overlook the winds are buffeting the RV and the cold wind chill factor is biting. The road had quite a sheen on it after the downpour and the contact the RV had with the road I would describe as 'light', and I think it had started to ice.

    We stopped at Forest canyon for lunch and a short walk to the viewpoint, the cold wind howling away. You can never capture these moments on camera and numb hands and buffeting winds didn't help with the pics, but it was really dramatic.

    Yours truly complete with RTA cap !

    We continued on towards the visitor centre and over the highest point on the road that sits at 12,183ft and we are travelling above timberline.

    Through Rock cut.

    to the visitor centre where they were busy putting up the marker poles for when the snows come. They had also been doing this roadside on the way.

    We had a look around the gift shop, bought the touristy T shirt and headed towards Grand Lake, passing over the Continental divide at Milner pass at 10,758 ft.

    The changing conditions just made the raw beauty of this place even more dramatic and I am so pleased we got to drive it, put it on your "bucket list".

    Stopping at Grand lake we head to Point park and Rainbow bridge to catch a view of Mt Craig [also known as Mt Baldy.

    A BLT sandwich and hot soup in the great little 'Bears Den' in town before hitting the road again.

    We head for I 70 over Berthoud pass [and the Continental divide] past Georgetown before getting of onto the '6' over Loveland pass and our third crossing of the Continental divide. The road rises steeply as it winds it's way up the mountain pass and boy what a view.

    You can see the cars on the Interstate.

    We drive down the other side and through Dillon [past the reservoir] to I 70 briefly and then onto the 91 [Top of the Rockies Highway] to Leadville just as the sun sets on a perfect day.

    As we arrive in Leadville we fill up with gas and as we enter the store I catch a glimpse of the telly that is reporting a severe weather warning sweeping through the area on it's way East, Mmm. We find an RV park in town and head out for something to eat. A large thermometer in the street records a temp of 22 F [-5 C] but the biting wind makes it feel even colder. On the short walk back from the Diner, the only thing that has changed is that their is light snow in the air. This doesn't come as a big surprise as Leadville is the highest incorporated town in America at over 10,000ft but my thoughts and doubts turn to tomorrow's route over Independence pass, I guess we will have to wait and see how it turns out.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 10-29-2009 at 03:57 AM. Reason: typo

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Great photos

    Pretty brisk to be in Class C RV -- I hope you had plenty of blankets!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Not enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Pretty brisk to be in Class C RV -- I hope you had plenty of blankets!

    Brisk is one word to describe it but I can think of others, F.. F....Freezing would be one. We used the heater to get it warmed up before turning in for the night, but decided not to set it on the thermostat as it's pretty noisy, BIG mistake. The temps kept falling through the night and I got up in the early hours to run the taps and flush the loo hoping that the pump hadn't frozen. I knew it was cold but was still surprised to find the dish cloth in the kitchen sink frozen solid and ice on the inside of the windows! I put the heating on but all we got was cool air at best, a lesson learnt and from then on we set the thermostat at a moderate level when needed so that the temps didn't drop below the point of no return.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 5 Part 1


    After a worrying night as the temps threatened to freeze the RV 's water tanks [something we are responsible for if any damage is caused] I got some warm clothes on and took a peak outside at around 7am, the skies were grey and heavy and snow was falling. My thoughts changed from "Will we get over Independence pass" to "Will we get out of Leadville today". By local standards I doubt it was much, by English standards it was enough to bring the country to a standstill ! [You think I am joking, Oh no !]

    My main concern was not what had already laid, but what might be coming next.

    I thought the best bet was to have a walk to town and see what info I could get, the first bit was from the town thermometer, it had dropped to 15F [-9.5C] and it felt like it.

    I admired the buildings along the way.

    The Delaware.

    The Tabor opera house.

    The Silver dollar Saloon.

    Originally the American bank

    and the Old Church near the visitor centre.

    At the visitor centre their was a free phone outside with a list of numbers to get info, after dialling for local conditions I was through directly to the sheriff's office, who informed me that they had received no reports of major disruption to the South and that it "Should be fine, just take it steady".

    As I put the phone down a very nice lady turned up to open the visitor centre and we had a chat, she was very helpful and friendly. She recommended that if we wanted to leave today their is no point in waiting. "If the sun doesn't come out it could get colder, and if the snow keeps falling it will get worse" I was told, as the snow continued to fall.

    Across the street was the Heritage museum and fire station and I took a moment to admire them before heading back down the Street.

    Prior to coming to Leadville I had seen it referred to as a "gritty town" and I can relate to that, but don't mistake that for meaning it's a Real Estate agents way of saying "It's run down". It's a wonderful old mining town with great Victorian architecture, steeped in history and surrounded by "Fourteener's", peaks over 14,000 ft such as Mt Massive and Mt Sherman. Away from the main street there are many brightly painted homes that are attractive to the eye.

    In this picture is the 'Silver Dollar Saloon', originally named the 'Board of Trade Saloon' and one of Leadvilles oldest buildings. Across the Street the 'Tabor opera house' that entertained the crowds with the like of Harry Houdini and Oscar Wilde in it's Hey day.

    The smaller building next to it is "The Hyman block", where Doc Holiday shot his last victim [but didn't kill] in the town that he came to settle down in.

    Since I had left the RV, the snowplows/gritters had been to work and as you can see the road is clearing, so I head back to the RV and we head South soon after breakfast.

    I have accepted the fact that Independence pass is not going to be on today's menu and plan 'B' is put into operation and we will head to the 'Black canyon of the Gunnison', which was originally in place for later in the trip, but first a detour to Twin lakes.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 11-14-2009 at 04:48 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Day 5 cont.

    We get a few miles South and the weather at lower elevation is a lot better and starting to brighten as we get to Twin Lakes

    I look up to the mountains and Independence pass is beckoning. It is still bitterly cold, and cloud is shrouding them but the road is open. As I am enjoying the views a car comes into the car park from down the mountain so I ask if he had just travelled over, the reply was "Yes, but it was iffy". Me; "How iffy ?" man; "Very icy and 2 cars have come of the road that I had seen" Me; "Mmm, I am considering taking the RV over" pointing to it. Man shaking his head "Oh, very iffy".
    I haven't driven the pass but for those of you not familiar it gets twisty and very narrow in places and the RV is right on the limit of the size restrictions imposed. I wouldn't of taken a lot of persuading to go over but as no one tried to do so, it was on with plan 'B' and Independence pass remains on my "to do" list.

    We headed South and the disappointment soon disappeared as the sun came out and we had the Arkansas river on one side and the mountains on the other offering splendid views.

    We continued South on US 24 untill we got to US 50 that took us West towards Black canyon, crossing the Continental divide at Monarch pass.

    Our next part of the journey took us through the Currecanti National recreation area.

    It was a wonderful drive and after stopping at a couple of the lakes we continued to the Black canyon of the Gunnison. This place is awesome, the deep narrow canyon walls, the sound of the river raging below, the colorful trials you walk along to get another glimpse of the canyon are all fantastic. No wonder they call this Colorado's Grand canyon !

    The sun cast deep shadows in the canyon and it's position made it really difficult to get decent shots, but here's a few.

    And we spend our last moments here watching the sunset.

    With the original plan we had booked into the James M Robb Colorado river State park in the Fruita section but with plan 'B' we had all but scrapped the idea and was going to forfeit our booking and stay near to the Black canyon, but feeling as we did after this great day we decided to go for it and head for Fruita. By doing so we will put ourselves almost a day ahead of schedule as the Black canyon was on our itinerary later in the trip.

    We stopped at a Pizza hut in Montrose for a quick and satisfying meal [and very satisfying it was !] and arrived in Fruita around 10 pm to find someone parked up on our site and the occupants appeared to have turned in for the night. The one opposite was vacant, it was late and we were only there the one night so we parked there.
    Thirty minutes later we had a tap on the door, a family had turned up and we were on there site, Doh ! They were there for 3 nights and really didn't want to go elsewhere, which was fair enough, they were prime sites near to the river. We didn't want to move and have the same thing happen again, so it was off to wake the neighbours on our pitch and explain the situation. I am sure they was aware what was going on and had just got dressed and were ready to move so after a little merry go round we all got settled into our places and turned in for the night.

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