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Old 01-16-2021, 05:56 PM   #1
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Plan B, I-70 West, Nevada

I started a thread a week or so ago about our Spring trip to Northern California by way of Yellowstone . . . got lots of really helpful information. I appreciate everyone's time to respond.

I'm working on a Plan B that would keep us on a mostly southern route. I-70 though Colorado, parts of Utah, then US Hiway 50 across Nevada to Reno.

My truck is a Honda Ridgeline and I suspect will struggle with the elevation on I-70 west of Denver, but other than being slow, I doubt my truck will limit much.

Anybody driven this route want to offer advice . . . interesting camping options along Hiway 50 in Nevada.

TIA
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Old 01-16-2021, 06:10 PM   #2
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Not a bad idea. If you do this, Id suggest I70 -> I15N (for a short distance) -> 50W... Two reasons:
  • This will avoid the busy area around Provo, SLC, etc.
  • More importantly, the Great Basin NP is on the way.

If you are into nature - you will find that Great Basin is a fantastic park. Unfortunately, the upper elevations will have snow, so you would be early. This park has bristlecone pines - which are some of oldest life form on the planet. Not sure if you will be able to get to the elevation where the trees are, but worth researching.

The negative is that there isnt a lot on the way. So, if it is civilization you seek, youd want to go through SLC etc.
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Old 01-16-2021, 07:34 PM   #3
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I-70 West through CO and UT
I write such things down to compensate for a poor memory in this aging brain.
Just might help you.

As you head west on I-70, here are some places you can stop that are easy when towing. Not all of the official rest areas are.

Exit 238 just west of Idaho Springs. There is a large asphalt paved lot just as you exit. Lots of room. To get back on 70, just follow the road you were just on.
Exit 205 just past Silverthorne
Uneva Lake. This is not signed as a rest area but as a scenic area. It’s just east of Exit 195 which is Copper Mountain. Slow down and look carefully, the exit to Uneva Lake sneaks up on you. A beautiful stop on a lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. Great photo op. You could take an Escape calendar worthy photo here.
Exit 190. Vail Pass.
Just past Exit 163. Rest area on a lake.
Exit 140. There is a COSTCO in Gypsum. Gas plus you can overnight in their parking lot if you want.
Exit 129 Rest area
Exit 121 Rest area
Exit 90. Rifle. Rest area. Good place to overnight. Lots of room for RV’s and trucks.
Exit 26. Grand Junction. All the major truck stops. Good gas stop.
Exit 10. Fruita Rest area and visitor center. Free dump and water fill. Free coffee when office is open. Good Bar B Que place right next to the rest area parking lot.
Exit 2. Rabbit Valley.


Utah.

Welcome center about at MM 90.
Green River has a nice state park campground just off of 70.
Black Dragon view point. A few miles west of Exit 149. Overnight OK.
All the other rest areas work when towing.
Loves gas station at Exit 56. Easy in, easy out.

Enjoy your trip.

Ed
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Old 01-16-2021, 09:47 PM   #4
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Do check out the Great Basin (on route 50) campgrounds - https://www.nps.gov/grba/planyourvisit/camping.htm

Stay at lower elevations - Wheeler peak drive and campground will be closed and the upper elevations will be snow bound. But, Memorial Day is the start of the high season. So, definitely worth visiting in May.

Our experience is with tent camping in Wheeler peak area, so not helpful in your situation.
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Old 01-16-2021, 11:54 PM   #5
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If you pull into Idaho Springs, you must have a Mountain Pie at Beau Jo’s.
https://www.beaujos.com/pizza-locations/idaho-springs
This is not to be missed.....
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Old 01-21-2021, 06:16 PM   #6
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OP here. Thanks for all the info on the route. I've continued to research this route and it looks quite interesting. Highway 50 in Nevada is called "The World's Loneliest Road". Sparsely populated and lots of scenic opportunities along the way. I think I read there are 17 passes to cross in the 287 miles of Highway 50 across Nevada. Camping options appear plentiful.

I'm guessing the entire drive is somewhere above 5500 ft in elevation with the passes obviously higher. Does anyone know how high the mountains passes are?
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Old 01-21-2021, 06:43 PM   #7
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Thunderworks, I second everything said about Great Basin. It's an unappreciated jewel. Don't know if they are open year round but there are cave tours there with those drippy formations which I can never remember if it's up or down named. They may state a camping opening date but it will be modified later if snow impedes.

Partway to California from there is Bob Scott campground. It's just east of Austin. It's tiny, current count is 9 sites. It's only a couple hundred yards off 50, but highway noise isn't too bad especially after dark as you have already pointed out, it's on the loneliest road. Says it opens 5/15. Due to elevation I wouldn't count on water that time of year, so come prepared with supplemental. There's a flush toilet and a pit toilet, but again, that time of year, maybe no flush. Great for a one night stop. I have stayed there lots of times coming and going.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/htnf...a/?recid=65248

Watch your gas level all the way across...again, loneliest.
If you have the geezer pass, it's 5 bucks.

If you're going further than Reno, just before the CA border is Nevada Beach Campground on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. It opens 5/14 and reservations are available now. IIRC even though they're not federal, they also take the geezer pass. It's VERY popular. Not sure if you know when you'll be there, but it's worth checking for a reservation now and looking at cancellation penalty. Again, it will be COLD there at night, even through June. Lovely restrooms, no showers. Possibility of snow on the ground. There are several other state parks all around the lake.
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Old 01-21-2021, 07:00 PM   #8
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In Grand Junction, Co.

If you stop here in GJ, or in Fruita, and call me I will meet you and go over the route from GJ to Reno. Just did it last June. Also love to see your rig, I am honing in on a 5.0 in the next week or so. PM me? maybe I can help, but am really impressed with the "Love of the Road" so many people share!
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Old 01-21-2021, 07:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderworks View Post

I'm guessing the entire drive is somewhere above 5500 ft in elevation with the passes obviously higher. Does anyone know how high the mountains passes are?
This book, now in digital form, has lots of useful information.
I traveled with the paper version for years. Alerts you to whats ahead.

https://www.mountaindirectory.com/coverage-area-west/

Enjoy your trip

Ed
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Old 01-22-2021, 03:52 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by EdColorado View Post
This book, now in digital form, has lots of useful information.
I traveled with the paper version for years. Alerts you to whats ahead.

https://www.mountaindirectory.com/coverage-area-west/

Enjoy your trip

Ed
I'll have to grab a copy of that!
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Old 01-22-2021, 10:32 AM   #11
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If you are going through the Tahoe area into California and want further info about this area and passes, let me know as I live here in South Lake Tahoe full time and have been RV'ing around these parts for many years...

I also use that Mountain Directory app all the time! Very accurate and useful...
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Old 01-22-2021, 11:23 AM   #12
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I'll have to grab a copy of that!
Money well spent.
Its common to see restrictions based on clearance, width including mirrors and total overall length. Numbers we all need to know.
The book will alert you to those on the roads it covers.
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Old 01-23-2021, 12:48 PM   #13
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I forgot to mention that east of Fallon, NV a bit is a roadside display (just north side of highway) with petroglyphs. Grimes Point Archeological Area. Good for a short stop and a leg stretch. If the weather's warm, be aware of the possibility of rattle snakes. There is a hike (a couple miles?) to a place called Hidden Cave but I have never done it. I believe there is a restroom and a shaded picnic table.
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Old 01-23-2021, 07:24 PM   #14
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Just a note: When you cross Colorado on I-70, just make sure there are no snow events, if there are, punt. Wait a day or two. There are two places your car may have trouble.

1. Eisenhower Tunnel at Loveland Ski Area. 11,000 feet. Watch both approaches very carefully, they are long and 7%. Everybody drives too fast.

2. Vail Pass. 11,000 feet too. Again this is a high and somewhat long pass so watch your speed and stop up high for lunch.

Everything in that area is pretty. Once you clear Vail Pass, there are no more high passes.

Glenwood Springs has very nice hot springs, camping is limited.
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Old 01-23-2021, 07:47 PM   #15
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My two cents:

Great Basin NP is great, but very isolated-- e.g. no cellphone service, no Internet except at the visitors center, etc. And the bristlecone pines are at the end of a mile-long hike at 10,000 feet. If you are going in May as I assume from this thread, that area will probably be closed. All of the campgrounds may be closed as well.

US 50 is indeed the "loneliest road", but I found it to be lonelier in western Utah than in Nevada. I saw almost no traffic there. Be sure you gas up before leaving populated areas in Utah.

I second the recommendation for Green River SP in Utah.
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Old 01-23-2021, 11:16 PM   #16
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I started a thread a week or so ago about our Spring trip to Northern California by way of Yellowstone . . . got lots of really helpful information. I appreciate everyone's time to respond.

I'm working on a Plan B that would keep us on a mostly southern route. I-70 though Colorado, parts of Utah, then US Hiway 50 across Nevada to Reno.

My truck is a Honda Ridgeline and I suspect will struggle with the elevation on I-70 west of Denver, but other than being slow, I doubt my truck will limit much.

Anybody driven this route want to offer advice . . . interesting camping options along Hiway 50 in Nevada.

TIA
My Ridgeline did fine with multiple transits with our 19. Gas mileage is awful, but pulled fine.
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Old 01-24-2021, 10:52 AM   #17
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Just a note: When you cross Colorado on I-70, just make sure there are no snow events, if there are, punt. Wait a day or two. There are two places your car may have trouble.

1. Eisenhower Tunnel at Loveland Ski Area. 11,000 feet. Watch both approaches very carefully, they are long and 7%. Everybody drives too fast.

2. Vail Pass. 11,000 feet too. Again this is a high and somewhat long pass so watch your speed and stop up high for lunch.

Everything in that area is pretty. Once you clear Vail Pass, there are no more high passes.

Glenwood Springs has very nice hot springs, camping is limited.
While I'd like to recommend the interesting hike to Hanging Lake south of Glenwood Springs, when I checked to add a link for reservations, apparently the Grizzly Creek fire has closed the area until further notice. Too bad - a beautiful lake:
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:29 PM   #18
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I agree
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Old 02-19-2021, 09:10 AM   #19
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While I'd like to recommend the interesting hike to Hanging Lake south of Glenwood Springs, when I checked to add a link for reservations, apparently the Grizzly Creek fire has closed the area until further notice. Too bad - a beautiful lake:

It has! We drove thru the canyon last Fall and although serious fire did go thru the canyon, it is not as bad as feared. Hanging Lake was apparently spared. They would not even let us stop in the canyon.

There are going to be some mud slides this Spring as the ground water increases. But the new growth of Spring should erase much of the damage quickly (except for the trees).

The hot springs are still just as hot and still world class.

Here is the site for Colorado road conditions including cameras.

https://www.cotrip.org
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Old 02-28-2021, 11:47 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleTim View Post
Just a note: When you cross Colorado on I-70, just make sure there are no snow events, if there are, punt. Wait a day or two. There are two places your car may have trouble.

1. Eisenhower Tunnel at Loveland Ski Area. 11,000 feet. Watch both approaches very carefully, they are long and 7%. Everybody drives too fast.

2. Vail Pass. 11,000 feet too. Again this is a high and somewhat long pass so watch your speed and stop up high for lunch.

Everything in that area is pretty. Once you clear Vail Pass, there are no more high passes.

Glenwood Springs has very nice hot springs, camping is limited.
I agree, both are dangerous if there is snow or wind in the forecast. The biggest danger is other drivers, especially the city slickers who are in a hurry. It may look like a regular 4 lane highway but I-70 coming out of the 1. Eisenhower Tunnel can be a killer. Its downhill for several miles with 2 runaway truck ramps (for good reason). So if the roads are slick, stay put till its sunny all day.
Also beware of BLACK ICE. Aaaaahhhh. Definitely not fun.

Also, in the town of Gypsum (Eagle exit coming from the east on I-70) is the last Costco you'll come across unless you are going to SLC until, well you'll be out of UT for sure.

Best luck and safe travels.
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