Summer 2012: Cooling Our Wheels travel blog

As we mentioned in the previous entry, a low fog bank was hanging over us as we departed Creede about 9:30 am on Friday, the 6th of July. We came out from under it as we were going through Wagon Wheel Gap. Our ultimate destination was the Cripple Creek KOA in Cripple Creek which is 287 miles from Creede going by way of Alamosa.

We planned an enroute stop in Alamosa to resupply and purchase fuel. And, we also planned to shorten the days travel with an overnight stop in the Chalk Creek RV Park at Nathrop, a distance of 163 miles, leaving 84 miles from Nathrop to Cripple Creek for Saturday, July 7th.

Nathrop is a small ranching community located where the small mountain stream of Chalk Creek from the Collegiate Range to the west flows into the Arkansas River. We arrived in Nathrop about 3 pm.

It was an easy drive. The San Luis Valley is a very large and mostly flat area used for ranching and crops that grow well at high altitudes such as hay, small grains and potatoes.

The highways were all two lanes in good shape. We traveled State Route 149 south from Creede to its intersection with US 64 in South Fork, then US 64 east to Alamosa. State Route 17, the highway north from Alamosa to the intersection with US 285 at Mineral Springs is a level stretch of straight road about 50 miles long, known locally as the gun barrel.

There is a slight grade from Mineral Springs to the top of Poncha Pass and a short, moderate grade down from the top of the pass to the Arkansas River Valley. US 285 goes north past Nathrop, paralleling the upper Arkansas River to the Intersection with US 24 south of Buena Vista.

We departed Nathrop for Cripple Creek at 9:00 am on Saturday July 7th.

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