This entry focuses on the journey to our next destination.
We made our reservations at the Air Force Academy's Peregrine Pines
Campground several weeks ago and despite recent modifications to our
summer travel plans, this is one destination we wanted to keep.
Peregrine Pines is my favorite military campground of all the ones we've
visited so far and the fourth time we've stayed here since discovering
it last summer.
We've also discovered that this is a very popular campground when
the weather is warm. It's difficult to just show up from May to
September and expect to score a campsite unless you have a reservation. The occupancy rate is even
higher this week than it was at the end of May when we were here for five
Our new home
for a couple weeks
reservation is for two weeks. We can stay for a total of 30 days in the
summer, so we can add on a few more days if space is available. We
may also come back again in the fall for a few days.
This entry describes our trip today from
Silverton to Colorado Springs, a total of 309 miles with the camper in
tow. There are other routes
than the one I'll describe but I think this is the most scenic and
about the most direct with an RV.
"Direct" is relative in a mountainous state like
Colorado. The distance is much shorter as the crow flies.
SILVERTON TO MONTROSE: US 550
We left Silverton at 7:50 AM. After the rain we had overnight the colors
of the stores in town just seemed to pop . . .
. . . and low clouds still
hung over the mountains as we followed US 550 north of town:
Much of the route we took today is drop-dead gorgeous as it courses
through various mountain ranges. The 20+-mile section of US 550 through
the San Juan Range between Silverton and Ouray, also known as the
Million Dollar Highway, is the epitome of a scenic mountain road trip.
I've written before about this narrow, winding road with its precipitous
drops of several hundred feet -- and no guardrails:
The most dangerous miles, the ones I'm showing here, are closest to
Ouray. The more southerly section of highway between Silverton and Red Mountain Pass
(elev. 11,018 feet) is much easier for RVs -- and semis --
I'm only paranoid in the passenger seat through the part shown in these
photos when we're going south from Ouray to Silverton. That's when I'm
on the side of the road next to the precipice, the side that has no
guardrails and sometimes not even any shoulder:
No guardrail, no shoulder = no room for error!
Today we were going northbound from Silverton to Ouray, a much different
story. Northbound traffic is infinitely safer. Now I was next to the
sheer cliffs going up on the right, not vulnerable to the sheer
cliffs going down on the left.
I enjoyed this section a lot more today!
A different angle on the construction where the
mountainside caved in on the Million Dollar Highway
Bear Creek Tunnel near Ouray; the Hardrock course
goes right over it.
From Ouray north to Montrose the highway descends gradually through farm
and range lands.
We stopped for a few minutes at the Subway in Montrose for Jim to get
breakfast, then turned east on US 50.
US 50 FROM MONTROSE TO PONCHA SPRINGS
This is a great road through 125 miles of very scenic territory, including
the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Blue Mesa
Reservoir (below), and the mountains surrounding Monarch Pass.
US 50 crosses the lake at least twice.
We saw numerous RVs on this section of highway. There are several campgrounds
along the way.
We reached the small city of Gunnison before lunch and spent about an hour there so Jim could
make repairs to two severed brake lines on the camper. They were on
the same side where he's found and fixed previous
cuts. He noticed that the brakes weren't working properly this morning
and wanted to make sure they were at least temporarily fixed before
we got to Monarch Pass.
As long as your motorhome or tow vehicle has decent power and adequate
brakes, you can handle Monarch Pass (elev. 11,340 feet) in either
direction. Going eastbound from Gunnison the elevation gains about 3,637
feet. Our concern was going down the other side where there is a
3,875-foot descent to Poncha Springs.
We found a good place to pull off busy US 50 in Gunnison at a large city
park near the Western State College of Colorado. While Jim was under the
camper working on the brake lines Cody and I waited in a shady, grassy
area under a pine tree:
The brakes worked well on the descent from Monarch Pass and the
remainder of the trip to Colorado Springs. Jim plans to make a more
permanent fix to the brake lines while weíre at the Academy.
I took these
"windshield shots" as we went up and over Monarch Pass:
There is less snow on the Continental Divide in this area and the
Collegiate Peaks north of Poncha Springs than there is in the San Juan
Range near Silverton.
The clouds were very interesting today. It was mostly sunny on our trip
and plenty hot at the lower elevations (90s F.). Much of the eastern
two-thirds of the nation is still in a heat wave and setting
We got 10 gallons of diesel fuel in Poncha Springs at Shell for $3.89,
then saw it at $3.66-67 in Woodland Park. For comparison,
diesel prices in Ouray = $4.19; Montrose = $3.82 to 3.99; Gunnison =
$3.86 to $3.99.
I didn't notice the prices in Colorado Springs but in May they were
about the same or a little higher than Woodland Park. We can't get
diesel on base at the Academy.
US 285 FROM PONCHA SPRINGS TO BUENA VISTA
This scenic highway runs through the valley east of the Continental
Divide, affording great views of several 14ers. Mounts Shavana, Antero,
Princeton, and Yale are the closest to the road. Princeton and Yale are
the two southernmost mountains in the Collegiate Peaks group.
US 285 is a good, fast road in this 21-mile segment.
US 24 FROM BUENA VISTA TO COLORADO SPRINGS
Just south of Buena Vista we turned east on US 24/285, another smooth,
fast highway that is fine for RV travel.
At Antero Junction the two roads split. US 285 continues north and east
past Kenosha Pass to Denver. We followed less-busy-but-equally-scenic US
24 to Colorado Springs.
For several miles east of Antero Junction US 24 passes through flatter
terrain in a large agricultural area known as South Park (above), then
becomes more hilly again as it approaches Wilkerson Pass (elev. 9,502
The last 50+ miles to the Springs are very picturesque approaching the
"back" side of Pike's Peak:
Travelers pass Lake George, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument,
Mueller State Park, the attractive town of Woodland Park, the road
up Pike's Peak, touristy Manitou Springs, and the beautiful red rock
parks on the western side of Colorado Springs.
Very little snow is visible on Pikeís Peak from the west, north, and
east. Itís more visually prominent and interesting when itís got some
snow on top but it looks like I'll be able to hike up the Barr Trail as
far as I can manage this time. In May there was too much snow to reach
There was very little traffic on US 24 between Antero Junction and the
town of Divide, then heavier
from there to Colorado Springs.
I-25 TO THE USAF ACADEMY
US 24 intersects with the freeway at exit 141. From there we had a
nine-mile drive to exit 150, where we turned west on Academy Blvd. and
drove into the Academy's south gate. Due to the placement of barriers
large RVs can enter this gate more easily than the northern one at exit
156. It's OK to exit via either gate with a camper.
The campground is about three miles north of the gate on Stadium Blvd.
When we checked in we were assigned to
site #61 in the 50-amp loop. It's a spacious pull-through site with
nearby pine trees that will offer shade on the doorside most of the day.
We have lots of room between our camper and the motorhome on that side (to
the left in the photo below). Site #62 on our back side is pretty close
but no one is in that site; it's pretty small and one of the last ones
filled in this loop.
Temps were in the mid-90s F. this afternoon so we got the two AC units
revved up pretty quickly. It's definitely warmer here at 6,670 feet
elevation than it was in Silverton, elev. 9,300+ feet.
Most of the country is in a searing heat wave this week, including Colorado.
When it was slightly cooler after supper I walked around the campground
with Cody and rode my bike for a while to check things out.
The campground is about 90% full. There are three other Cameos and one
Carri-Lite in our loop. There have always been other Carriage, Inc. coaches at Peregrine
Pines when we've stayed here.
I talked with one of the owners this evening.
He and his wife are teachers from Florida, almost our age but not
retiring for another two years. They have a 2008 Cameo 35SB3 and have
had similar problems with it as we have (ours is a 2010 35SB3).
View of the golf course from the
I said hi to another couple from Oklahoma in a 2010 Cameo 37-something.
Thereís also a 2011 coach like it with South Dakota tags but we havenít
talked with them or the Carri-Lite owners yet.
This trip was enjoyable (except for the brake repair) because we didn't
have to rush, the scenery was gorgeous -- and we had our rolling
residence with us. Yea!!! I'll gladly compromise fuel mileage and
speed to have the convenience of my own kitchen, bathroom, bed, and "stuff"
when we're traveling from Point A to Point B.
Now we're looking forward to at least a couple weeks with full
hookups, more shopping opportunities than anyone needs, and a plethora of hiking and cycling trails nearby. We really
like to visit this area.
Next entry: Jim's cool new mountain bike
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil