Jul 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm #1305428
Hi. I'm heading out in 2 days in central colorado and the road to the trailhead is marked as Four Wheel Drive Road on my Trails Illustrated. I'm trying to figure out what that means cause I'm not sure if I can make it to the trail head, and it's a long road! What is the difference between High Clearance Road and Four Wheel Drive Road, as designated on TI maps? I have an AWD car with 8.7 inches of ground clearance and I've successfully drive a "high clearance road" as TI designated it.
The road is FS 721 in Gunnison Ranger District for those that may know the condition. Thanks!!!!Jul 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm #2006467
Google is your friend. However, road conditions change over time.Jul 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm #2006472
Thanks for the link, but that doesn't exactly address the question. TI maps don't designate between three distinctions like the NPS link you provided. TI designates it either High Clearane Road or Four Wheel Drive Road. Not a combination of the two.
I've driven on what TI calls a "High Clearance Road" fine in my car. But I haven't been on the "Four Wheel Drive Road" designated type. It's a 4 hour drive….I really don't want to find out when I get there. Maybe I'm interpreting the link you provided incorrectly?
Any other input would be much appreciated! The road again is FS Road 721 from Black Mesa Reservoir up to Soap Creek Trail Head.Jul 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm #2006487
Generally a 4WD road requires high clearance AND 4WD. 4WD also means a transfer case with low gear. Usually AWD is not the same as 4WD. Search Google some more.Jul 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm #2006501
Well, that's not good news.Jul 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm #2006509
Paul MagnantiBPL Member
@paulmagsLocale: Front Range Zoo
I'd call the ranger district and ask directly about the road.
The TI maps can be good, but sometimes the road conditions can change in as little as a a year (or less)
Generally speaking, a high clearance vehicle road is just fine for my old 2wd pickup..but not for a passenger car as it would bottom out. (Think hole the rock rd in Utah if you have been there)
However, my my old 2wd pick up would do terrible on a rutted, rocky road where more traction is needed..aka a 4wd road
Is the road you looking at a series of short dashes really close together..that means really rough, possibly steep and you need real 4wd with both 4low and 4high. May take a long time to drive and some off-roading skill too.
A series of long dashes? A rougher road, but doable for your AWD vehicle.
BUT CALL THE RANGER DISTRICT FIRST!!!!Jul 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm #2006515
Ken T.BPL Member
Definitely call and ask. I took a road marked 4wd only on every map I've seen down into Bishop CA. 3 creek crossings and a mountain biker rescue later we hit the pavement in my wife's Civic. They might have recently graded where you are going. Calling is cheap, and quick. Good luck, have fun and drive safe.Jul 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm #2006518
Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
You will never know until you see it for yourself or talk to someone that has. 4wd could mean a reasonable dirt road or something very rough. I've been on some gravel forest roads that were worse than many dirt roads. Maps get outdated.Jul 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm #2006772
I called the Gunnison Ranger District twice. I got two different answers. First was…no way can a passenger vehicle make it up that road. I was curious so I called back…spoke to someone different, got a completely different answer. He said a AWD car with 8.7" clearance would be fine.
Lovely!Jul 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm #2006773
It's the thin line with the dashes really close together. Road 721, which goes right to the edge of West Elks Wilderness.
P.S. I love fried chicken.Jul 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm #2006781
" 8.7" clearance would be fine"
Sounds like someone reading from the link I sent you.Jul 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm #2006787
I agree. But the other lady at the RD adamantly said my car (knowing the same clearance and AWD) could not make it up the road. If I wasn't arriving at at night, I'd probably give it a try, but I will be safe and find a different access point. I can't say I'm going to complain about adding another 8 or so miles in the Elks to my agenda. :)
Thanks for all of the input. Unless someone who reads this has actually traveled this road and has a firsthand experience, I'll call it a closed case. :) Look for a trip report next week!
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