Journey from Alamosa Colorado to Oakley Kansas (I-70)
Updated: Aug 27, 2020
Preface: we own a 35' Class A Thor Palazzo 33.3 pulling a Ford F-150 Super Crew. The RV is notorious for having a low ground clearance. I've bottomed out at least once.
Here is our route from Alamosa, Co to Oakley, Ks. When I plan for a trip I get maps and plan out my routes ahead of time and mark the route, truck stops, campgrounds, and any other places we may want to see along our way. I generally spend time after the kids go to bed and use google maps and trucker path, a highlighter and a pen. There were a few questionable days like this one that I spent some time pondering. I'm writing this to share what I wish I had known before we made our trek across this landscape and decided to take the direct route instead of I-25 to Colorado Springs.
I'm going to write this starting from Alamosa then head East. Please feel free to read backwards if you are going West. Due to COVID the Navajo nation was essentially closed so we were able to add a stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park. This set us up nicely for our last trip through the mountains as we left for home. Forgive me for no original photography today, as we only made one stop at a Loves Truck Stop in Eads, CO. All of these photos are from Google Maps.
US Highway 160 leaves Alamosa and heads dead straight for 15 miles to CO 150 which leads to Great Sand Dunes National Park. After 150 Highway 160 travels through the foothills to Walsenburg. We had to stop here for a minute to check our maps because there is a truck route that works it way through town. Here you can choose to take I-25 north to Pueblo and Colorado Springs or head East on Colorado 10. We committed to Colorado 10 and left the mountains for good. This is where the story begins. For miles we saw nothing but the highway, utility poles, cattle.
Somewhere on 10 near Hawley and Rocky Ford our phones ended up with conflicted directions on our traffic apps and the state maps were not detailed enough. So, decision time. I committed to take a left onto county road 18. According to the app we were on a rural barely paved road with no shoulder for 16 miles. What could go wrong. We're in the plains, so we don't have to worry about bridges out here. We bounced on this road slowly and the miles lasted hours. We went about 8 miles and then saw this sign:
To be clear.....we've never seen a sign like this before. However, this is exactly the thing that RVer's never want to see and we knew it immediately. Ughhhhh. So, a picture is worth a thousand words and we clearly knew trailers bottom out here all the time. Apparently, not enough to fix the crossing. I reduced speed to get a look at our situation.
So, what you see is a very steep decline after the tracks (pic 1), closeup of the road damage from trailers (pic 2), and the beautiful county road 71 on the other side. What to do. Option 1, disconnect the truck and turn around. Option 2, go for it at an angle and pray. With the county road on the other side in plain view we went for it. I don't want to know how close we were to bottoming out the RV but after scaring oncoming traffic by coming into their lane to get over the tracks and down the grade we made it and have a fun story to tell. The alternate, which is to take 10 and backtrack to 71 via 50 is a few more miles and less exciting. The railroad does go over 50 with a bridge height of 15'3".
We then took 96 East to Eads and picked up US 287 North. US 287 brought us to the Loves truck stop where we topped off our fuel. We then drove up to Kit Carson where we picked up US 40 and we headed East 111 miles of more two lane plains Highway to Oakley Kansas and I-70.
In Summary, we chose this route to save 60 miles and would do it again. We made sure we had plenty of fuel when we left Alamosa. We don't live this rural and it was a little uncomfortable being this far off the interstate, with few other travelers, and were happy we made it through without incident. I'm so happy, we took this route and saw amazing ranchland of the American Plains while making great memories.
Have you ever traveled this route? What are your memories?