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Old 10-18-2013, 04:43 PM   #1
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Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow (old trip, pics fixed)

We got out to Colorado last week for the first time ever NOT in the summer. We've always wanted to see the Aspens in the Fall and got really lucky. We figured the colors would be over but we got the last of the colors plus a couple of good snowstorms. It was an epic trip!

Crossing the Plains



We stayed with family in the Denver area for a few days and were able to go visit Jage and family and meet his twin girls. Per his request, I'm NOT going to post pics of him in his new parent glory. He looked a little tired but the girls are healthy and beautiful and they are all very happy.
My wife nabbed a great pic of Pike's Peak (I think) in the afternoon light driving back from Jage's



Leaving Denver we headed up to Poudre Canyon per Jage and Derek from CCV's advice. We weren't disappointed, except for all the great USFS campgrounds that we passed that were gated





We pulled our Jeep for the first time. I was impressed, though it does add another variable to traveling. The good part was that other than the headwinds in Kansas and the steep grades in CO, I only lost 1 MPG towing the Jeep. This is great because the van is a 5.4 and I still got 12-13 towing vs. 14 or so usually with just the van. The van is 9500lb. loaded, the Jeep is 3000lb, so it's not really adding much flat towing. I drove 60-70 and benefited from the SCT towing tune without a doubt.
We took Hwy. 14 west out of Fort Collins into Poudre Canyon and it was deserted, mostly due to the shutdown I'm sure. We boondocked at by a beautiful lake (Chambers Lake) at the edge of the snow and had a very nice, but cold night.



There was frost on everything the next morning and a big ball of ice on my propane regulator.
Next we took Laramie River Rd. (County rd 14) up towards Laramie/Medicine Bow. Lots of mule deer, beautiful ranches and other wildlife





Medicine bow was eery. Like being on the moon. No one around but evidence of hunters only by all of their campers along the sides of Hwy 130. My daughter was happy to play in some snow since we never see it before mid December



Shortly after that we decided to go over the pass in search of Aspen Alley, a place we heard of on the West side of Medicine Bow off of Hwy 70 near Baggs Wy. Rain quickly turned to snow and above 8000 ft it got bad pretty quick. The pics of Battle Pass show how hard the snow was coming down



Coming down the other side of the pass was tough. It was not really bad as far as driving in snow is concerned, but 2wd with the Jeep behind me on 8% grades in unfamiliar territory was fairly, um, intense. Good ending, we found Aspen Alley but the leaves were mostly gone and snow was still coming down hard. If you've never seen a pic of Aspen Alley in the fall, Google it. It's a beautiful thing. We were a little late but it was still beautiful to see it in winter.



Next, we dropped back down into Colorado near Craig and took 131 south just west of Steamboat Springs. We were in search of a couple more nights camping, preferably without snow, so we took 24 over Tennessee Pass, then through Leadville headed down to Salida/Gunnison area on Hwy 50 where we knew it would be warmer and drier.



We found a beautiful private RV park, which I never like the idea of, but we were in need of power, showers, etc. after 4 nights out in the snow and rain. The place we found was just about to close for the winter but was possibly the most picturesque site I've ever had. Here it is at dusk.



The next morning was glorious



And I nabbed the best shot I've ever taken with an iPhone



Then the long drive home. 3600 miles, 8 days. Fuel: about $1200, including 1.5 tanks in the Jeep
Lodging: $57 Yes, $57 total!!!!

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Old 10-18-2013, 05:54 PM   #2
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

Great fun. Heading to CO Sunday.

Z
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Old 10-18-2013, 06:25 PM   #3
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

Man that sure looks like a nice trip Eric. I wish I would have had more time to explore the area when I was there.
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Old 10-18-2013, 06:42 PM   #4
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

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Originally Posted by daveb
Man that sure looks like a nice trip Eric. I wish I would have had more time to explore the area when I was there.
Well go back when the CG's are open! We passed 50 great looking ones.
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Old 10-19-2013, 06:18 PM   #5
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

Eric and Kristie, Looks like it was a good trip. I haven't spent much time in Colorado and it looks like I need to make a trip sometime. I especially like the 9th picture. The one in Aspen Valley? The road heading into the tunnel of aspens is beautiful.

Mike and Kris
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Old 10-19-2013, 07:21 PM   #6
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

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Eric and Kristie, Looks like it was a good trip. I haven't spent much time in Colorado and it looks like I need to make a trip sometime. I especially like the 9th picture. The one in Aspen Valley? The road heading into the tunnel of aspens is beautiful.

Mike and Kris
Thanks Mike. It's Aspen Alley. About 45 minutes east of Baggs Wy. or an hour or so west of Saratoga.

http://www.wyomingroadtrip.com/Trips/2009/Saratoga.aspx

Not too terribly far from you.
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Old 10-20-2013, 08:44 AM   #7
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

Why did you take the Jeep and do you have auxilary braking? Just curious.
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:53 PM   #8
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

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Why did you take the Jeep and do you have auxilary braking? Just curious.
Stan, for a few reasons. First, I recently got it and wanted to take it on a long trip to see how we liked towing it, how our MPG suffered, etc. I think it's pretty hard to get real experience with those things without going on a trip, and this was a trip we had planned for a few months. Secondly, Derek at CCV was doing some work on my van and I was without it for the first couple of days I was there. I weighed my options of renting a car vs. taking something we own and we prefer the latter. If we ever do any off roading (more than gravel roads) the Jeep will be wonderful to have. That is, as long as I have a 2WD van, which may not be long. I recently picked up a 95 Quigley SMB. As long as I am 2-3 days drive from the Western states that I love to play in, I don't think I will realistically ever do any serious offroading in the camper. Too much risk, too heavily loaded, etc. I travel with 3 other people always and it's just too much. I do realize that's not a typical 'SMB' attitude, but aggressive tires going 3500 miles minimum every time we go out there? No thanks.
The Jeep is a really nice toad. It weighs in right at 3K lbs. That is the limit in most states for having to have auxiliary braking, but the laws are different state to state and very contradictory as well. My wife spent a good bit of time on the road while we were driving trying to decipher different state regs. I used a tow bar and lights, no auxiliary braking and had no problems with grades at all. I got the brakes hot enough to smell one time. I don't get in a hurry, and without bragging, I'm a tractor/trailer driver by trade so I'm pretty hyper sensitive to stuff like brakes.
The van weighs 9400lb loaded, the Jeep weighs 3000. No problem back there really, couldn't hardly tell it was there.

Sorry for the long post
Eric

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Old 10-21-2013, 09:08 PM   #9
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Re: Fall in Poudre Canyon/Medicine Bow

Great report, thanks for sharing !
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