Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Farmington, New Mexico
Agree with Sportznut1 regarding the direction you go on Red Mountain pass. The road is a narrow two lane so you are talking about maybe 15 feet of difference from the edge. Besides if you go off in some spots you will starve to death before you hit bottom. From your original post it sounded like you will be going east to west coming through the San Luis valley then over Wolf Creek pass. You will be traveling on US 160 all the way to Durango then north on US 550 to Montrose. If you take what I term the Grand Loop which is to head west at Ridgway then south to Telluride and back down to Durango that will take you very close to Telluride, a short side trip, then over Lizard Head pass and through Rico. That loop is about 217 miles long to get you back to where you started in Durango. I have done the Grand Loop many times with many friends on motorcycles every fall to see the fall colors.
Regarding the Durango to Silverton railroad. After my original experience on it many decades ago I now recommend traveling on it from Durango to Silverton just one way, up to Silverton then riding the bus back to Durango. Both ways takes around 8 hours on the train which makes for a long day.
Regarding thunderstorms on the other passes the same risk exists but the geography is not so dangerous because those passes are more wide open than Red Mountain. You will still get wet or pummeled with hail or struck by lightening. These mountains in southwest Colorado are large enough to create their own weather.
Just a heads up about Wolf Creek. There has been a massive die off of the blue spruce in that area. It is sad to see and certainly detracts from the sights. An alternative route to Durango is to go through Alamosa to Antonito, Colorado then over the Cumbres pass to Chama, New Mexico. This ride is just as spectacular as Wolf Creek and much less traveled by tourists. You can then swing up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado on US 84. You will be paralleling the Cumbres narrow gauge railroad much of the way from Antonito to Chama. This railroad is an alternative scenic railroad to the Durango Silverton railroad. Both are remnants of the old Denver Rio Grande railroad.
Hope this helps.