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Great Dolomite Road?

Hello, We'll be home basing in Castelrotto for 3 days in April of 2010 (VERY early Spring). We are interested in hiking although I'm not sure that will work out for us considering the weather, lifts closed, etc. so we're interested in possibly driving the Great Dolomite road one of the days we're there to just be able to drive, stop, view, drive, stop, view, etc. Is this drive possible when home basing in Castelrotto? Any other suggestions for enjoying the views while driving to the upper altitudes? Thanks everyone.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks! Are there directions FROM Castelrotto? Is Castelrotto considered at the base of the Dolomites? in the middle?..just trying to get an idea if the drive in April would be worth it...Hoping everyone can offer their experience..we want to drive, stop and sit and enjoy the scenery..drive some more, stop, etc..are there gas stations along this drive? or is it not long enough to even worry about it? :) Thanks everyone!

Posted by
3594 posts

If you want to go all the way to Cortina D'Ampezzo, you might want to consider getting a bus tour. The drive is a very long, strenuous one; and the driver has to focus completely on the 2-lane road with one hairpin curve after another. We got reservations in the TI office in Castelrotto, I'm remembering 24 euros/pp. There are other, shorter drives with spectacular scenery, as well, which would afford opportunities for hiking without quite so much time in the car.

Posted by
850 posts

I have not done it in April but have in May. In May most of the lifts are closed but the traffic was down so it really was a good time to go. April may have a few more things open but I don't know for sure. Should still be low on tourists though. We drove from the opposite direction coming from Cortina d'ampezzo to Castelrotto and eventually to Bolzano. If you get to Bolzano check out the museum where Otzi the ice man is located. A neat and interesting museum. As far as driving, you will find the views to be spectacular. We did exactly as you plan. We drove, stopped, drove, stopped and so on. Had a nice picnic along the way and took hundreds of photos. There are hair pin turns but not really a problem. Just stay in your lane and if somebody is pushing you too closely just pull over and let them by. It is a beautiful drive so go for it. The roads should be open but it can still snow and possibly cause a problem. Paul, from NJ has been to the Dolomites many times and maybe he will offer his tips.

Posted by
2903 posts

Hi Matt,

Castelrotto is not "in" the Dolomites. I'd suggest somewhere in the Val Gardena at this time of year.

www.val-gardena.com

As for the "Great Dolomite Road"... no need to drive a particular "outlined road" at all. A drive over a few of the passes in the area will do the trick. The Gardena Pass, Sella Pass, Giau Pass, etc. are all fantastic drives with spectacular scenery any time of the year. Gas stations are few (none on the passes but the passes themselves are relatively short (mileage wise). Time wise is longer of course... winding climbs and descents. The Dolomite area is pretty compact. A good website to check is:

www.alpineroads.com

We have some photo's at:

www.worldisround.com/home/pja1/travel15.html

Hope this helps get you started.

Paul

Posted by
2903 posts

Hi Matt,

Just wanted to add to my previous posts:

We were in the Dolomites once in late April, 2005. Roads were fine on that trip.

I recommended Val Gardena (which is only about a 20 min. drive from one end to the other) because the 3 villages (Ortisei, St. Christina and Selva) are close together (5 min. from one to the next) and the choices of hotels/pensions, restaurants and shops is greater here than most anywhere else in the region. Ortisei is the only one that has a small "old town pedestrian zone". Selva would be my pick for having the best Dolomite scenery of the three. Selva is situated at the start of the Gardena/Sella Pass. The Sella Pass branches off the Gardena Pass. Even if the cable cars aren't running, there's enough places along the passes to park and wander among the Dolomites.

If having lots of choices of restaurants and shops nearby wasn't important, I'd recommend staying at the Ciasa Montanara in La Villa, Alta Badia. Aside from it being a beautiful (and reasonable) place to stay, Dolomite scenery from your room balcony doesn't get much better (IMO).

www.montanara.it

www.altabadia.it

My opinion on a great "Dolomite Drive" wouId be a circle route from either Val Gardena or Alta Badia. For example, assuming a "home base" in Val Gardena:

Val Gardena over the Gardena Pass into Alta Badia. From here the Compolongo Pass to Arabba. Then the Pordoi Pass towards Canazei and finally the Sella Pass back to Val Gardena. Easily done as a day trip. Dolomite scenery is stunning all along the way.

For old town options, Brixen/Bressanone is simply beautiful. About a 40 min. drive from Val Gardena. If you chose to stay in Alta Badia, Bruneck/Brunico (approx. 30 min drive) has a very charming old town. As Lane mentioned, the Museum of Archaeology in Bozen/Bolzano has an excellent exhibit of the "Ice Man".

www.brixen.org

www.iceman.it/en/oetzi-the-iceman

Paul