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Colorado Mountain Adventure Ride 2018

'Monday July 9th, 2018 6:00'
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Colorado Mountain Adventure Ride 2018

Camp Bird Road to Yankeeboy Basin

Yankeeboy Basin Road
Yankeeboy Basin Road

 

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.

 

Video (59832)

Motorcycle Ride down from Yankeeboy Basin

Clips from my trip down from a visit to Yankeeboy Basin near Ouray, Colorado.

 

The Alpine Loop

Map (59634)
The Alpine Loop

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 Alpine Loop - Ash Brooks atop Engineer Pass
The Alpine Loop - Ash Brooks atop Engineer Pass

 

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 Alpine Loop - Climbing to the passes
The Alpine Loop - Climbing to the passes

 

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.

 

 

The Alpine Loop - A roadblock on Engineer Pass
The Alpine Loop - A roadblock on Engineer Pass

 

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.

 

Alpine Loop - California Pass 12,960 ft.
Alpine Loop - California Pass 12,960 ft.

 

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 Alpine Loop - Historic mines and ghost towns
The Alpine Loop - Historic mines and 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.

 

The Alpine Loop - Animas Forks
The Alpine Loop - 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.

Alpine Loop - Southern Vittles, Lake City
Alpine Loop - Southern Vittles, Lake City

 

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.

The Alpine Loop - Approaching Cinnamon Pass from Lake City
The Alpine Loop - Approaching Cinnamon Pass from Lake City

 

Video (60091)

CO 2018 - Riding The Alpine Loop on Motorcycles

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

 

CO 74 - Bear Creek Road
CO 74 - Bear Creek Road

 

It's a commonly used route so expect some traffic but still a nice ride with some engaging curvy sections and nice views.

 

CO 74
CO 74

 

Map (59620)
 CO 103

CO 103

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,[2] 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,[3] 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 - Mt Evans Scenic Byway
CO 103 - Mt Evans Scenic Byway

 

CO 103 combined with CO HWY 5 forms the Mount Evans Scenic Byway which includes the highest paved road in the US.

 

CO 103
CO 103

 

The ride is not far from Denver and connects to I-70 so it tends to get crowded on weekends and holidays.

 

CO 103
CO 103

 

The Echo Lake Lodge is a good pit stop with good food.

 

CO 103 - Echo Lake Lodge
CO 103 - Echo Lake Lodge

 

US 50

US 50 - Monarch Pass
US 50 - Monarch Pass

 

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.

 

US 50 - Monarch Pass
US 50 - Monarch Pass

 

West of Gunnison the road crosses through the dry hills to reach Montrose. It's not a particularly scenic section.

 

US 50 - Lake San Cristobal
US 50 - Lake San Cristobal

 

From Montrose, US 50 angles north to Grand Junction. We found little of interest on this stretch of the road.

 

 

CO 133

Route (50134)
CO 133

CO 133

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 - Coal Mine
CO 133 - Coal Mine

 

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.

 

CO 133
CO 133

 

The road makes a gradual climb into the mountains ultimately crossing McClure Pass then running through wooded canyons as it descends towards Carbondale.

 

CO 133
CO 133

 

Approaching Carbondale the road traces the banks of the rushing Crystal River.  

CO 133
CO 133

 

CO 82

CO 82 - Independence Pass
CO 82 - Independence Pass

 

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 (60063)

CO 2018 Riding Independnece Pass

Video and comments on a motorcycle ride from Aspen to Twin Lakes on July 15, 2018

 

CO 92

Route (49964)
CO 92

CO 92

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.

CO 92 - near Gunnison
CO 92 - near Gunnison

 

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. 

CO 92 - Hermit's Rest Overlook
CO 92 - Hermit's Rest Overlook

 

The road drops down from the north rim then passes through Crawford and flatter country to reach C0 92 at Hotchkiss

 

CO 92
CO 92

 

CO 65 - Grand Mesa Scenic Highway 

CO 65 takes you on a beautiful ride across the top of Grand Mesa

 

CO 65 - morning start in the north Canyon
CO 65 - morning start in the north Canyon

 

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. 

 

 

C0 65
C0 65

 

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.

 

CO 65 - atop the north rim of Grand Mesa
CO 65 - atop the north rim of Grand Mesa

 

Midway across the mesa a visitor center offers a convenient scenic stop.

CO 65 - crossing the Grand Mesa
CO 65 - crossing the Grand Mesa

 

Once past the visitor center the road starts a long slow roll down from the heights. 

CO 65 - Grand Mesa Visitor Center
CO 65 - Grand Mesa Visitor Center

 

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CO 65 - Grand Mesa Visitor Center
CO 65 - Grand Mesa Visitor Center

 

Grand Mesa Visitor Center view
Grand Mesa Visitor Center view

 

CO 145

 

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.

 

CO 145 - north of Telluride
CO 145 - north of Telluride

 

It's the section south of Telluride that offers the best riding through the high mountains.

 

CO 145
CO 145

 

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