Tuesday morning it was time to leave Canon City to continue our journey West along Highway 50. We have reservations in Gunnison for 6 nights. It will only be about a 110-mile drive but it will be a slow one. We will be going over Monarch Pass on this leg of the trip. As we began the drive out of Canon City, we could enjoy views of more beautiful snow covered peaks. The Arkansas River traveled along with us for quite a while. This portion of Hwy. 50 is an easy drive through some canyons and ranch land.
We saw so many rafters on the Arkansas River. There were many areas for launching the rafts for their guided trip down the river for up to 45 miles. Here where the rapids were biggest the canyon narrowed and the walls rose steeply above us.
We got to the town of Salida and made a pit stop for Annie at the local Walmart. Salida may be an interesting town to visit, but we had no time for that. Just a short 5 miles further west and we came upon the small town of Poncha Springs. Poncha Springs is the town I tracked on the MSN Weather website getting information on snow/rain/road conditions getting to Monarch Pass. I've been checking in with them for over a month seeing how fast spring was arriving and if the road was free of deep snow. Going West Poncha Springs is the closest town to the pass.
Once we left Poncha Springs the landscape turned more Alpine and we began a slow steady climb to the top of the pass in the Rocky Mountains. I had purchased the Mountain Directory West after reading Al's blog. He uses it when the Bayfield Bunch travel from Ontario, Canada to the Southwest in the winter. Thanks for the tip, Al. We knew exactly what to expect on the Monarch Pass after reading this directory.
Bruce took it slow. We were in no hurry. There were several curves going up, but nothing major. Actually, Hwy. 50 through the mountains in West Virginia seemed worse than this part. We began to climb higher and higher and saw old snow off the road. Finally we saw the large parking area for checking brakes before your descent down the other side. There was a small cafe and gift shop so we parked and went inside.
Outside I took a couple of quick photos. There was still a lot of snow up here. The sign on the cafe notes the elevation and the fact that we are straddling the Continental Divide. It was a crisp, clear day with a few puffy clouds. The elevation as noted is 11,312 feet and is the highest point on the entire Hwy. 50 route. The annual snowfall here is 30 feet.
Once we took a quick peek at the shop and cafe we were on our way down the mountain on the western side. This was a 6.4% grade over 9 miles. Again, Bruce took it slow and steady. Using the engine brake rather than the brake pedal most of the time helped.
Once we had gotten off the pass completely the road opened up to meadows and cattle ranch lands. We pulled off the highway at a turn-out to fix lunch. We were able to enjoy another fantastic view of Colorado from our window.
Once we finished our lunch and Annie had a walk, we were on our way to the final destination of Gunnison. It was a good, safe and successful day. What more could you want?
We love the fulltime RV lifestyle, even when we pause to visit our family in Tumwater, Washington. We feel happy and blessed to be able to enjoy this special time living anywhere we would like to roam. Join us in our travels, and leave a comment if you please.
I am a wife, mother and grandmother. My husband, Bruce, and I live full time in our Winnebago motorhome. We began this lifestyle in 2008, after over 20 years of vacation traveling, and we love it. We have family in Tumwater, Washington so we return there every few months to be near them. The rest of the time we like to see new places. We have traveled by RV to 49 states and many areas in Canada. While doing this I try to keep my eye on our health habits. I'm a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers and being on the road traveling brings on lots of temptations. Keeping the weight off and still being able to enjoy the RV life....is all part of the adventure!