Instead of motoring down the I-25 expressway though, I rode to the start of Rampart Range Road just a few miles west of the small town of Sedalia, CO.
The road is packed dirt, two lanes wide (barely at times) with lots of sections which are bone-jarringly washboarded. The sides of this road are bordered by the occasional campsite and thick growths of pine trees. You can see, dirt bike trails on the western side of the road, as you have to have state license tags to use Rampart Range road itself.
The road also has the designation of Forest Road 300, and these were the signs I followed along the 30+ miles of dirt riding that it took to finally find the end of the road in the town of Woodland Park. The road changes names about a block shy of the intersection of it and US24. Look for Baldwin Street (there's a McDonald's at this intersection)
I had originally planned to camp so I could also catch the sunrise at the Garden of the Gods (GOTG). Finding myself over 18 miles from the site, I motored on US24 eastbound till I got to the GOTG exit just past Manitou Springs (Home of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway).
It was still way early for sunset pictures when I arrived at the GOTG so I motored onto Forest Road 300 near Balanced Rock (I later, after looking at Google Maps, saw that FR300 splits off and exists in two very different paths, sigh). FR 300 takes you out of the park on a climbing and twisty dirt road with some great views of Colorado Springs and the nearby mountain peaks of Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain (home of NORAD).
The big mountain in the distance is Cheyenne Mountain
After reaching the junction with paved road 306 which takes you to Rampart Range Reservoir, I retraced my steps back towards GOTG.
Approaching the GOTG
I thought it was still too early to go sunset picture shooting so since there was no camping in the National Forest near the GOTG park, I motored on back towards Woodland Park to check out some sites I'd seen on FR 300.
Above is the site I had spied on the way down towards Woodland Park. Big open area with a great view of Pikes Peak as you can see. However, it was an area where the local liked to come and shoot. There was evidence of shotgun shell casings, spent pistol and rifle casings as well so not a great spot to camp.
I checked out two other nearby sites but one was already occupied and the other had this old decrepit looking mobile home/trailer alongside the trail leading into the camping areas. I could hear banjo music playing in my mind so I turned around and bagged the idea of camping.
I killed some time eating dinner at the McDonald's and rode on towards GOTG thinking I had plenty of time for sunset pictures as it was only 7:30 PM or so. Wrong! Due to the nearby mountains, sunset at the GOTG happened right about then it turned out.
There were many tourists and a slow moving traffic jam through the park's roads so I didn't make it to the desired spot till at the end of the sunset lighting. No spot to place Valencia to include her in the pics either due to cars. Oh well.
I parked Valencia near the spot I'd originally planned on and walked to a spot where I could see the below rocks clearly.
I was back at my rig, packing up to ride home when I noticed a rock climber on top of the peak of the tallest rock in the above video:
I swapped lenses on the Sony Camera and got this full zoom with digital enhancement shot for demo purposes: