Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some of my favorite Colorado Rides, Part III

Hi folks, here's some more of the roads I've ridden on in the Great State of Colorado, which I thought you might find enjoyable if you're ever here on a motorcycle. Next installment probably won't happen till sometime in July after I explore southwestern Colorado with my family.

Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway

Listed as a scenic byway by byways.org, it's eastern end is located near the town of Fort Collins, Colorado. It's western end is the small town of Walden. I must say, it's really one of the more lonely yet entrancing roads I've ridden on yet.

See the highlighted in light blue route above, courtesy of byways.org: LINK

You get to traverse the Cache La Poudre canyon with its high rocky walls and a memorable tunnel carved out of the solid rock. There's of course a crossing of the Continental Divide at Cameron Pass and the scenery while you ride through the Roosevelt National Forest will stay with you for a long time. Just make sure you've a full tank, no much in the way of civilization between the two end points!

Looking at the Medicine Bow Mountain Range on CO14

Near Cameron Pass

My ride on this scenic byway, a long day, but quite the ride: LINK I see its been over a year since I've ridden this road, perhaps this summer or early fall. Weather is a factor at the higher elevations, consult the CDOT site below to ensure you can make it all the way through.

I tried in late March of 2008, had to turn back: LINK

The Collegiate Peaks

Colorado has a lot of mountains as you know, the highest among them are called the Fourteeners since they all reach a minimum elevation of 14,000 ft. The Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway allows you to ride within reasonably close view of seven of these fourteeners, within striking range of three passes: Monarch, Poncha and Independence Pass which all cross the Continental Divide. At the northern end of this byway, you can also see Mount Elbert which at 14,433 ft is the highest point in the state.

Courtesy byways.org: LINK

The Collegiate Peak byway is 57 miles of beautiful scenery which challenge you to keep your eyes on the road while you ride past the snow-capped peaks to the west. Fastest way to get there is on US285 from Denver which will junction with US24 and place you near the southern end of the byway. Or you can take I-70 and work your way down from Aspen, through Independence Pass and then take in the Collegiate Peaks enroute to the south and the town of Salida.

My ride through the Collegiate Peaks Byway: LINK

One final note: if you end up riding this byway from North to South, be sure to enjoy the twists and turns of US50. From Salida its a short hop to Monarch Pass (yep, cross the divide again), then you can continue West or head back East on US50 and twist your way through this nice motorcycling road (though usually lots of cars as well) to the city of Pueblo and the I-25 superslab.

Guanella Pass

Established as a route through the continental divide between the mining towns of Georgetown and Grant, this scenic byway is a bit dodgy in terms of road conditions. My blog entry records lots of potholes at its "paved" beginning with the remainder being packed dirt with small loose gravel/rocks. Still, I managed to ride it on Maria, my 1150RT, so just take it nice and slow.

One of the rewardings views you see at the summit of Guanella Pass, I believe that's Square Top Mountain in the background.

Courtesy of byways.org: LINK

Here's a link to my ride of the Guanella Pass: LINK If you ride this pass from the north end at Georgetown, you are then in a good position to get back on US285 at Grant and make your way down to the next favorite ride of mine, the South Platte River road area.

South Platte River

This is a very navigable dirt road for the most part, going slow will not only get your there safely if you're not riding a dual-sport motorcycle but will also allow you to gawk at the marvelous rock formations, canyon walls and rushing river scenes provided by the Platte River.

I usually get to it by riding out of Denver on US285 and turning south at Pine Junction on CO126. CO126 or Pine Valley Road is a finely paved four lane road with a few twists and turns couple with noticeable changes in elevations as it plunges down towards Buffalo Creek where it becomes South Deckers Road. Beware gravel accumulations on the twisting curves near Decker specially in the Spring.

From Deckers, you turn north on CR67 which is the S. Platte River road. It quickly becomes dirt where it splits off with CR67 heading NE towards Pine Nook which will, through its own twists and turns once you get back on pavement get you to Sedalia. However, to see the real platte river road, keep heading north on the dirt road.

You'll skirt the base of Long Scraggy Peak, enjoy rock-strewn canyon walls carved out over millenia by the South Platte River. Fly fishermen have been in evidence most times I've ridden this road.

Long Scraggy Peak

Boulders along and in the South Platte River

My usual resting spot along the river, the old South Platte Hotel

This area holds a special place in my rider's heart, it was the first area where I was introduced to mountain exploring by John Sanoke, my riding mentor. Thanks John!

Explore this area at your pace, find Foxton Road which will take you to what John Sanoke called Cathedral Spires:

My rides along the South Platte: LINK1 LINK2 LINK3 LINK4 LINK5 LINK6 LINK7

S. Platte River Road will eventually lead you to Foxton Road to the North where you can then meet up with US285 once again. Now, you can take US285 back into town or shortly after getting on the slab, you can get off at Pleasant Park Road and enjoy this scenery instead while headed east towards Denver:


Pleasant Park Road will eventually, after teaching you the meaning of 15mph limits on curves, get you to Deer Creek Canyon Road which you can then ride to shake out the rest of your need for twists before being back in the Denver Metro area.

CDOT's Road Conditions and Cameras: LINK This is a great site to see if a pass is open or not and what kind of road conditions exists at said passes.

Byways.org
's great listing of great riding roads: LINK

First installment of "Some of my Favorite Colorado Rides, Part I" LINK

Second installment of "Some of my Favorite Colorado Rides, Part II" LINK




4 comments:

Canajun said...

Beautiful riding country!

Thanks for sharing.

Electra Glide In Blue said...

I love that ride up the Poudre in the morning and breakfast in Walden!
You have put together some of the best Colorado rides.

motoroz said...

I have ridden all three and love them! Really enjoyed the Poudre ride.

Charlie6 said...

Canajun and Electra Glide, my apologies for not responding to your postings back in May....thanks for your continued readership.

motoroz, thanks for the kind words, glad you liked the blog....I have added your blog to the list I follow as well.