Back in June of 2010, a group of Uralisti had tried to ride up to the top of Rollins Pass, using the eastern route; we didn't quite make it all the way. The pass is divided into two sections because the narrow railroad tunnel at the top, known as Eye of the Needle, had been closed so you can't really ride a Ural sidecar rig or car through.
Three Uralisti, including yours truly would attempt this same route once again. I met Dan K. and Scott M. at the Last Shot Diner near Blackhawk, CO and after some chit chat we headed off towards Rollinsville and Rollins Pass Road.
We made good time and soon we were motoring our way up Rollins Pass Road. We weren't the only ones on the road today, there were 4x4 trucks, mountain bikers, hikers and even cars that really didn't have the ground clearance. I wonder how many of them would go home with new dents?
Rollins Pass road was as rocky as I remembered it, with some sections that threatened to shake my fillings in my teeth loose as well as cause parts to come off my 2014 URAL sidecar rig, Scarlett. Some minor issues, both Scott and I had our respective rig's left muffler knocked loose by rocks. No problem, but I think I should start packing heat resistant work gloves to hold the hot tubing in place in order to bang it back on.
There were many steep sections as well but not very steep as this road was once a railbed for a narrow gauge train which went over Rollins Pass. Still, there were some sections that had us all wondering what we were thinking at times!
At Yankee Doodle Lake
Quite a scenic location
You can see the western end of the Eye of the Needle
tunnel way up there on top of the mountain
The furthest point motorized traffic can go, its at least
another 15 minutes of walking to get to the eastern end of the
Eye of the Needle tunnel.
Red Arrow #1 points to tunnel entrance visible from Yankee Doodle Lake
Green Arrow #2 points to tunnel entrance visible from furthest motorable point
which is indicated by the blue arrow #3
Jenny Lake, a view while standing on the other side of the
As you can see, quite the walk to get to the tunnel and you can't
get in anyways. Below you can just make out the 8ft tall barriers
just inside the entrance to the tunnel.
pic of inside of Eye of the Needle tunnel circa 2006
Panos on the way down
Pano of Yankee Doodle Lake
Nearing the valley where the small settlement of Tolland is located.
You can see the eastern entrance to the Moffat Tunnel
in the distance.
Looking west at the Continental Divide.
Three rigs went up, three rigs returned.
Tired and famished, we rode back to the Last Shot Diner near Black Hawk and had us a late lunch, good timing on our part too, as a large group of Harley-Davidsons (mostly) were leaving at same time that we arrive.
A good day of riding once again, finally checking off the eastern portion of Rollins Pass Road from the "to do" list. Got my left muffler knocked loose once on the way up and once on the way down, other than that no issues with Scarlett besides having to re-glue the heated grip on the throttle hand side.