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Silverton, Colorado in May?


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Planning a possible trip to the Silverton, Col., area for the fourth week of May (week before the Memorial Day weekend). One of my main objectives is to rent a dirt bike while there and spend a couple of days exploring the Alpine Loop -- Engineer and Cinnamon passes to Lake City, etc.


The dates I can get away are not very flexible. For those of you who know the area, do I have a chance that the passes will be open at that time of year?


Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give!



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John is correct.


This picture is from last May 27th. The camera is pointed southeast in the direction of the Alpine Loop. I was south of Ouray on 550.



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Pretty good snow year up here this season so chances are the high passes aren't going to be clear until June. May as well just keep going to Torrey.

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Actually, several of the passes around Ouray get plowed to open them. I think they usually target Memorial Day weekend for opening. Suggest that you contact the jeep rental shops for information as the time approaches.

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This was taken in Early June. Don't be fooled most of this was plowed snow, not on the roads. But...anything can happen!



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Nope. I'm pretty sure that my hubby is wrong on this point. The county guys try to get Engineer open sometime in mid-June for the tourists. I would expect Cinnamon by Memorial Day, but not both.

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Would the million dollar highway out of Durango be open in mid May? Also, what temps should I expect? This discussion interests me since I am planning a ride from N. Florida to Durango then on to Torrey from mid May to first week in June.

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Million dollar highway is open year round except maybe in the middle of a big storm. In May, there may be snow on the sides of the road but the road will be clear. If there is snow on the sides, watch out for black ice in the morning but my noon, it should be just wet.

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I am an old Colorado native and very familiar with these parts. I would worrie more about the cold than the snow. You won't enjoy it if you are freezing your butt off. If you must do it do it on the way back.

I remember Cortez in August early in the morning can be below freezing and that is the lowlands compared to Silverton, Leadville, Ouray etc. I suggest you stay south thru Texas, New mexico I-40,Flagstaff, Page, Kanab, Bryce then Torrey. Great riding thru NM and AZ and Southern Utah. You will be warm and enjoy it more. Silverton and Ouray are great in July and August. Just my opinion. Either way enjoy the ride!




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Other hazards to be aware of with any high passes are:


Sand/gravel/salt trucks may have been at work recently even though weather where you are coming from doesn't seem to warrant it.


Rocks tend to come down in spring thaw conditions more than at other times, particularly at the warmest times of day. Getting hit would be very rare indeed, but seeing and avoiding rocks in the road is common.


Beyond that, mountain weather is variable, and forecasts tend to be for towns, not passes.


All that said, I have ridden the Million Dollar Highway in Mid-March, in perfect conditions, 60 F, clear, dry and windless and no traffic (that same trip we suffered high winds, blinding rain, near freezing cold, and generally unpleasant conditions in S. Texas). I have ridden it in July and found it impassable due to afternoon thunderstorms. I have ridden it in June and found it jam packed with RVs, trucks and cars.


At those elevations snow can occur any day of the year. What matters is that you are alert, get what weather info you can, use good judgment, and are flexible in your route.


All that said, May is most usually beautiful riding weather in the Rockies. Two years ago we spent a week getting to Torrey from SLC, mostly in that region. This year we are riding to Sedona the weekend ahead of Torrey, and then working our way back. The last of my worries is the weather.



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All that said, May is most usually beautiful riding weather in the Rockies.


We did the million dollar highway mid May last year and it was cool and there was snow off to the sides but it was clean. The junk in the road was out on the fog lines mostly and it was clear from Cortez to Ouray.


Gunnison and that area, Telluride, etc. Was all open and beautiful.

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My best advice after riding just about every road in Colorado and Utah the last week of May is bring your Gerblings. I was told this, however, did not pack them. Durring the ride I would of paid double and been happy. We had am temps in the 30's, afternoons range 60-100. Pack well, then ride and have fun.

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