Wolf Creek Pass: A Cautionary Tale
August 22, 2019
Well, Wolf Creek Pass just about did us in and this is a cautionary tale. I will say though, it was the most beautiful place to break down. As we headed eastbound up the pass, the truck began to quickly overheat. We pulled off as soon as we found a spot and got out to check the damage: coolant was spilling out everywhere. In keeping in the trend of every break down I have ever had, there was no cell service to contact roadside assistance.
I was having no luck calling for help as a tow truck drove by. The driver pulled in and started chatting with us. He wasn’t a Good Sam Roadside Assistance affiliated business, but he was a mechanic. Lance went with him into town to buy the last coolant reservoir Pagosa Springs had to offer.
On the Road Again
After the new reservoir was installed and the coolant was topped off, we headed back up the pass. We made it until the next turn off when we began to overheat again. The mechanic had given us his number just in case anything happened.
I called and he met back up with us and discovered air bubbles had been left in the system. He brought a tool to remove them and off we were again. Lance asked him to follow us up to the summit just in case, given how the trek had gone so far. We got to enjoy every turn off the highway had to offer until the summit. Every time the truck began to overheat, we pulled off to let it cool back down.
It’s All Downhill from Here
We had been planning to meet friends to camp with at a Harvest Host location in Del Norte. We were already days late due to another rig issue in Farmington, New Mexico. More on that later.
It was on the way down that our trailer brakes began to fail. We had been having issues with them but thought it had been fixed. So, we got to enjoy every turn off on the way down the pass as well.
No More Mountains
It was clear that after a long stressful drive, we weren’t going to make it to Del Norte. I got on the phone and quickly found a Passport America campground in South Fork, which was the next town we would get to after descending the pass. We stayed there for two nights to relax and regroup.
After this fun travel day, Lance declared, “No more mountain driving!” Unfortunately, we were in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and there’s no going around at this point. As a compromise, we have decided to only travel major highways for the foreseeable future.
Wolf Creek Pass and South Fork had been the most beautiful parts of Colorado that I had seen. We decided to take a drive out into the Rio Grande National Forest.
It was not far from camp and a drive (without a trailer) out into the mountains was calling us.
The rushing river was a lovely sight. Being a Washington girl, I miss the mountain streams and fresh air. Z was excited about it too.
This article would have been helpful to have BEFORE we attempted the pass. But, now we know better and can commiserate with others who have driven it. What road has been the most challenging for you? Leave us a note in the comments below.