Flatlander from WI here...questions on route through the Rockies - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 04:59 AM Thread Starter
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Flatlander from WI here...questions on route through the Rockies

Hey Folks!

My wife and I are big fans of doing multi-day road trips/vacations with the Elise, and have always wanted to hit CO but still haven't somehow.
Well, it turns out that I'm relocating from WI to CA in mid-October, so we're hoping to kill two birds with one stone and drive the Elise straight through on our way!

The only things currently on my route are I550 ("million dollar highway") and Pike's Peak, other than that I'm just trying to choose a pretty good path that doesn't take too much time. Unfortunately we only have a day or so, so I can't really go on any pleasure cruises, we are just passing through.

So...I have some questions about driving through the mountains, and in general looking for suggestions - I apologize if these are dumb, but i have spent zero time in the Rockies and have no idea what to expect! I have driven in the Appalachians so I can handle selecting the right gear, mountain passing etiquette, etc, its more the weather and things unique to the Rockies that scare me.

Please NOTE: I do NOT have a hardtop!
  1. This will be the week of Oct 9th...is this already a dealbreaker for weather? I know that it is unpredictable, but if I'm pulling off every 5 mins or worse getting stuck, i'm obviously not going to do this. You all are familiar with the Elise's capabilities in snow and rain.
  2. Are there more than enough places to pull off and wait things out? or is there the possibility to really get screwed once you're in the mountains?
  3. Should I be concerned about altitude sickness slowing me down, since i'll only have been in CO for a day? The warnings on Pike's Peak are what made me think of this.
  4. Cell coverage is junk, right? Do i need to rent a sat phone for safety? My wife is on AT&T and I'm on Google Fi (US Cell / T-mo / Sprint).
  5. Is this, in general, a dumb idea? I'm more than happy to just ship the car, then make it back out to CO later when we're settled.

Thanks in advance, here is roughly my current route:

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 05:06 AM
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Regarding cell coverage, I save google maps using their offline feature. You won't get traffic info or be able to make calls, but you'll be able to still navigate and get directions and all that. I also had no issues with the altitude when out there for a snowboarding trip for a few days a few years ago, so I think that's one of those things where you just have to see how it affects you personally.

I say do the drive, prepare but don't overthink it, and take lots of pictures!

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 06:39 AM
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'Mornin Flatlander...

'Been in The Springs for 20 years, and while in-town is typically fine early October -- higher elevations have snow. In fact, some of the ski resorts target opening day for late October / early November. So driving a Lotus up "in-the-hills" might be a bit dicey -- fraught with white-knuckles! Then again, secondary (mountain) roads are well-kept, so unless you're caught-up in a storm / squall, you'll probably be fine. And you can always take the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak -- leaving the car in the parking lot.

Then again, visiting in Summer would be less stressful / more enjoyable. My Lotus never saw snow -- except from inside the garage! Ha...ha.

So whatever you do -- BE CAREFUL!
 
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 07:16 AM
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No hardtop, mid-October in Colorado, and over 8000 feet in elevation? Keep Plan B on the burner!

Altitude sickness can hit people even in great health. You won't know until you make the ascent.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 07:42 AM
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@afex - The short answer is I think you'll be fine. I'm in Golden, CO, so you're route is about a day south of me. I drive my Elise on day trips in my area all the way into November, but I pick the days and obviously avoid snow. My temperature criteria for Yokohama AD07's is to plan to avoid anything below 40 F and to turn around if I get to within a few degrees of freezing. If I really want to go somewhere and know the conditions are iffy, I will carry an infrared thermometer with me to check the road surface temps . . . the road temp will lag behind air temps by several days, especially where the road has the benefit of heating with direct sunlight.

> This will be the week of Oct 9th...is this already a dealbreaker for weather?

Not at all. Just be prepared to turn around or take an alternate route if you run into conditions that threaten your safety. At that time of year, you may run into freezing conditions generally above 10,000' MSL.

> Are there more than enough places to pull off and wait things out?

Plenty of places to pull off, but you might have to wait a day or two, so I would plan to turn around rather than wait something out.

> Should I be concerned about altitude sickness slowing me down

Probably not. You can search and find lots of resources about altitude sickness. The cabin of a commercial airliner is typically pressurized to 8,000' MSL and it's pretty rare to experience the effects of altitude sickness at or below that altitude. Most routes through the Rockies don't put you at altitudes above that for very long because you are climbing and descending steep mountains. Again, if things go badly, turn around. I carry an altimeter in my Lotus for entertainment / situation awareness when we are in the mountains. There are inexpensive altimeters available for less than $100 if you want one.

> Cell coverage is junk, right? Do i need to rent a sat phone for safety?

No to the sat phone - too spendy for so little benefit. Cell coverage can be spotty in the mountains, but in an emergency you should be able to flag someone for help - your routes aren't going to be devoid of traffic. And having phones with two different carriers is awesome - there are lots of places ATT doesn't work that Verizon or Sprint will.

> Is this, in general, a dumb idea? I'm more than happy to just ship the car, then make it back out to CO later when we're settled.

Not at all. I would definitely do this - like I said, we drive our Lotus all the way into November. Just be ready to reverse course and go back to where conditions were better. I would build in an extra day so you have no qualms about turning around when necessary. If you just *have* to get to your destination at the minimum time for your route, *that's* when I'd say it's a bad idea.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afex View Post
  1. This will be the week of Oct 9th...is this already a dealbreaker for weather? I know that it is unpredictable, but if I'm pulling off every 5 mins or worse getting stuck, i'm obviously not going to do this. You all are familiar with the Elise's capabilities in snow and rain.
  2. Are there more than enough places to pull off and wait things out? or is there the possibility to really get screwed once you're in the mountains?
  3. Should I be concerned about altitude sickness slowing me down, since i'll only have been in CO for a day? The warnings on Pike's Peak are what made me think of this.
  4. Cell coverage is junk, right? Do i need to rent a sat phone for safety? My wife is on AT&T and I'm on Google Fi (US Cell / T-mo / Sprint).
  5. Is this, in general, a dumb idea? I'm more than happy to just ship the car, then make it back out to CO later when we're settled.
Just to echo what others have said- I lived in the Keystone/Breckenridge area for a few years

1. October 9th should be fine, you will just have to check the weather closer to your trip
2. Most of the roads provide somewhere to pull off, as long as you are not surprised by weather you should be fine
3. Altitude sickness affects some people and not others. With two of you it shouldn't be an issue for one to drive back down to an elevation that helps if this becomes an issue. If you just drive through I wouldn't worry about it, but if you plan to stay hours above 8,000ft it may factor in.
4. Cell coverage is ok, not sure Google Fi will be of any use though. No to the sat phone. There are plenty of Colorado owners around, I'd post up the actual day and see if anyone wants to tag along but you'll also find plenty of other people on the routs you have picked out.
5. I'd do the drive if you can and then come back and spend a few more days out here.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-31-2017, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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awesome, thanks for the advice everyone!

It sounds like it's basically a crapshoot for the weather, so either it will be sunny and great, or i could get dumped on once I start the climb. According to some other stuff I've read, Red Mountain pass (ouray to silverton) will likely be the most risky...some of the youtube videos are just insane.

I think my plan will be to budget a full day to get from Colorado Springs to Durango. if we have to push that one day later (or turn back) due to weather no problem, and worst case scenario we just say screw it and go south to Hwy 160 and abandon our original plan.

Any additional comments, keep 'em comin!

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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In case someone looks at this thread in the future, we did complete this trip the week of 10/8, and it was AWESOME. I managed to get dashcam footage of the entire 42 hrs of driving, hopefully I get some time to make a sweet timelapse of the whole thing.

A storm blew through and brought Denver a bunch of snow on the Monday night (10/9) so we ended up staying in Colorado Springs for an extra day to make sure everything was cleaned up and dry. This actually worked out well because I took the chance to check out Garden of the Gods and conquer Pikes Peak!

Proof:
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 08:49 PM
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@afex - By coincidence, my wife and I were returning from eastern Tennessee in our Porsche with summer tires about the same time you were in town. We crossed the eastern border of Colorado Monday, October 9 about 3:00 pm ... just a few hours behind the snow storm. Up until that point, our trip had been in clear skies and temps above 80 F. As we continued west, air temps got down to 33 F with light blowing snow and mist, but the asphalt was running as low as 36 F, but mostly 40 - 42 F as measured by my IR thermometer. I thought about this thread when I broke out the thermometer.

We made it to our house at 8,175 MSL at about 6:00 pm ... just a little bit before it got too dark to watch for ice as we climbed up the mountain. At the top, air temp was 28 F and the roads were at or below freezing, but they had time to dry from the afternoon snow. We were ready to spend the night somewhere, even if it was 10 miles from home, but we lucked out and made it all the way.

Glad to hear you were able to work around the weather too and had a good trip!

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-27-2017, 09:08 PM
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Good to hear it worked out even with the snow delay!
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-28-2017, 05:44 AM
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'Glad your trip was a success and you got to see a bit of my "hometown" -- Colorado Springs! 'Looking forward to that video compilation...
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