Camp Bird Road to Yankeeboy Basin
Coming into town one evening from the Million Dollar Highway I couldn't resist a ride out to see Yankeeboy Basin. The road leaves town from Box Canyon as Camp Bird Road. It starts out as a smooth and well maintained gravel road. Once past the campground the road gets rougher, then rougher still as you veer off on Yankeeboy Basin Road. It's a nice ride, a few challenges near the end, and a great view.
Clips from my trip down from a visit to Yankeeboy Basin near Ouray, Colorado.
The Alpine Loop
The 65-mile scenic drive travels through a surreal landscape of treeless tundra and mountains seemingly splashed with red and yellow paint near Ouray, Lake City and Silverton.
The 65 Mile Alpine Loop was one of our goals this trip and proved to be a highlight. Coursing through the unpaved high mountain passes, the roads weave through old ghost towns and abandoned mines on rocky trails a hundred years old. The bulk of the riding is well above the tree line, the barren slopes painted in bright colors by the rich minerals therein.
The towns of Ouray, Sliverton, Telluride, Lake City, and the surroundings support a thriving tourism business of jeep and ADV vehicle tours through the high country. The challenging roads also attract motorcycle riders though they are well outnumbered by the 4 wheeled vehicles.
We came equipped for the ride on large adventure bikes - A KTM 1090 for Ash and a BMW 1200 GSA for me. While most riders come on smaller, more maneuverable and nimble machines, we had many miles to cover on this trip and the larger bikes are just more comfortable over the long term. Stripped down and tire pressures lowered for off road traction, these big bikes will tractor through most anything with a skilled rider and both Ash and I have done many miles in the mountains on them.
Every few miles you come upon some old mining relics. Most often they are ruins, wooden structures built of huge timber. There are also cabins and mining camps, some preserved, all ghost towns.
The largest of these abandoned mining towns is Animas Forks. It's a hub for many of the trails and where we gained access to the loop. There was roadwork on the closest access road to Ouray so we went on to Ironton Park to reach the trails. Faced with several forking roads we chose the wrong one. The Corkscrew Gulch Trail was in rough shape - eroded and washed out with deep rocky ruts. Yet another wrong fork had us lost for almost an hour but we eventually found our way through a series of lesser used roads to Animas Forks.
We got an early start as we knew afternoon showers were likely. After losing an hour, we climbed Engineer Pass a loose and rocky ride, steep in places then crossed over California Pass with it's stunning views. It was just follow the long road to Lake City after that gradually winding down through switchbacks and drops. The last few miles trace the banks of a rushing river beneath towering cliffs.
We grabbed a quick lunch in Lake City then started back via Cinnamon Pass. Paved the first few miles it passes a lake then start to gain elevation. While it's the easier of the two passes overall there are a few tricky sections to keep you on your toes. As we headed into the high country dark clouds loomed on the horizon ahead. Scattered drops fell occasionally until we reached Animas Forks. As we headed south towards Silverton the rain grew steady. We paused in Sliverton to weatherproof then set out on the Million Dollar Highway to return to Ouray. The sun shining by the time we got back to the hotel.
Ironton to Animas Forks to Lake City to Silverton. The Alpine Loop is a 65 mile unpaved route through the high mountains of SW Colorado. Video and comments o...
CO 74 - Bear Creek Road to Kerr Gulch Road
This is a nice way to avoid I-70 on the west side of Denver.
It's a commonly used route so expect some traffic but still a nice ride with some engaging curvy sections and nice views.
Mount Evans Scenic Byway:
The route begins at Idaho Springs, where it heads southwest away from the center of the city and follows the Chicago Creek. After exiting the city, the route begins climbing in elevation, ultimately reaching an elevation of about 10,000 feet, where it meets State Highway 5, at Echo Lake Park. Together with Highway 5, the route to this point forms the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in North America. Then the route continues through Squaw Pass, along the upper end of Echo Mountain Ski Area and on to its terminus at County Route 151. Past this point, the highway is not marked by CDOT, but the rest of what is called Squaw Pass Road descends toward Evergreen
CO 103 combined with CO HWY 5 forms the Mount Evans Scenic Byway which includes the highest paved road in the US.
The ride is not far from Denver and connects to I-70 so it tends to get crowded on weekends and holidays.
The Echo Lake Lodge is a good pit stop with good food.
US 50 from Poncha Springs to Grand Junction - Poncha Springs lies in a broad flat valley. Heading west the road soon climbs high into the wooded mountains through winding curves to reach Monarch Pass then makes a gradual descent to the beautiful canyons near Gunnison.
West of Gunnison the road crosses through the dry hills to reach Montrose. It's not a particularly scenic section.
From Montrose, US 50 angles north to Grand Junction. We found little of interest on this stretch of the road.
Runs along the north fork of the Gunnison River climbing into the mountains. The river canyon gets tighter at elevation then there are nice views of distant mountains and some tall roadside formations. The road peaks at 8,755 ft McClure Pass, then drops to the small town of Redstone. It then follows along the Whitewater Crystal River.
CO 133 is a long nice ride we used to approach Aspen. Watch your speed at the west end near Hotchkiss and Paonia, we saw a lot of police activity here.
The road makes a gradual climb into the mountains ultimately crossing McClure Pass then running through wooded canyons as it descends towards Carbondale.
Approaching Carbondale the road traces the banks of the rushing Crystal River.
CO 82 runs from downtown Aspen over Independence Pass to meet US 24 at a remote junction. It's a gradual climb which brings you atop the edge of a huge gorge then circles around the rim. The edge of the road drops thousands of feet to the valley below and the heights can be intimidating. Coming down the road traces a river through the forest passing through the tiny town of Twin Lakes before it reaches the end of the run near the actual Twin Lakes.
Video and comments on a motorcycle ride from Aspen to Twin Lakes on July 15, 2018
COLORADO HIGHWAY 92
One of the most breathtaking drives, Colorado Highway 92 crosses over Blue Mesa Dam and winds along the north rim of the Black Canyon, providing gorgeous views at every turn.
Pioneer Point offers great views of the Curecanti Needle and Curecanti Creek. Golden Eagles, Turkey Vultures, other birds and wildlife are common sights. Get a great view of the canyon at Hermit's Rest Overlook or take a hike to an overlook that begins on Highway 92 at Crystal Creek. Continue west to the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
C0 92 traces along the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River climbing to the rim of the deep gorge then rolling along the edge for quite a while. It's a curvy technical ride in places. While you'll catch peeks into the depths, to really appreciate the beauty stop at the overlooks or ride out onto the points.
The road drops down from the north rim then passes through Crawford and flatter country to reach C0 92 at Hotchkiss.
CO 65 - Grand Mesa Scenic Highway
CO 65 takes you on a beautiful ride across the top of Grand Mesa.
Coming in from the I-70 at the north end, CO 65 makes a long and dramatic climb through a large canyon to gain the top of the mesa.
Once you get on top of the mesa the road rolls along through the high forest the landscape dotted with innumerable small lakes. Trails lead off into the backcountry.
Midway across the mesa a visitor center offers a convenient scenic stop.
Once past the visitor center the road starts a long slow roll down from the heights.
CO 145 starts at it's north end as an intersection with CO 141 near Naturita. It then runs southeast to Telluride passing the important junction with CO 62, the link to Ouray.
It's the section south of Telluride that offers the best riding through the high mountains.