Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day ride to Castlewood Canyon

Happy Thanksgiving day! I hope you have much to be thankful for this day, for I surely do.

I've a loving wife and two good sons, a job, and the wherewithal to not only ride but ride classic motorcycles pretty much everywhere I want to go. To top it all, we had a beautiful sunny day here in Colorado with predicted highs in the low 60s!

We're going to a neighborhood friend's home for Thanksgiving Dinner so I only had the morning to get a ride in. So I decided to head south to nearby Franktown and from there go in the back way to Castlewood Canyon to get pictures of the dam which had failed back in 1933 and had caused Denver's second worst flood in its history.

I took back roads that sort of paralleled CO 83, eventually I got on Castle Oaks Drive and rode sedately on dirt roads eventually getting to CO86 which is the road to Castle Rock from Franktown.

I went west on CO86 after tanking up at a strip mall near Castle Rock. 29MPG was the calculated mileage I got with the last tank. Not bad at all!

Soon I was at the Castlewood Canyon Rd turnoff just shy of Franktown where CO86 intersects with CO83. I headed south on Castlewood Canyon Rd and entered the Castlewood Canyon State Park. I paid the $6 fee at the self-service station but must remember next time that it only applies if you park within the state park to go hiking its several trails. I instead went past the parking areas serving the trailheads and got on the dirt road which leads to the dam.

The road looks bad but traction was very good

The road becomes a narrow dirt trail on which two cars can fit if moving slowly and carefully. As you can see above, the shaded areas still have some snow remaining from the last snow storm. Conditions were not bad though, any two-wheeled motorcycle would have been fine I think. Since I was on Natasha, my 1996 Ural, conditions were perfect!

I got to the dam's location and as you can see, part of it remains standing but you can see where the dam wall collapsed back in 1933:

Near the top of the dam

A view of the southern wall of the dam

The road then takes you past some ranches and farms which are built where water once filled the valley contained by the now failed dam.

Standing where water once covered everything, the dam is in the far background

Closeup view showing what part of the dam failed back in 1933

I continued along Castlewood Canyon Rd past several large ranches and fenced off rock formations along the ridge line. Then, I came upon something a bit weird:

Cow Circle!

The above put me in mind of crop circles and other such weird occurrences, but I know it was probably the way the rancher dropped off feed for the cows.....Colorado Cow Circles....surely there's a way to overhype that into some alien conspiracy rumor!

Eventually, Castlewood Canyon Rd reaches pavement at Douglas County road 11. I took it southwards, past a few twists and turns until I got to where you can turn off on County Rd 63 and this view of Pikes Peak in the distance:

Pikes Peak from a little over 30 miles away

It was now time to head home for a light lunch before Thanksgiving Dinner at the neighbor's. I cruised north on CO83, through Franktown and Parker and it was back roads again all the way home.

Here's my last ride to Castlewood Canyon Dam: LINK

Hope you got some riding in today, again, Happy Thanksgiving!


bobskoot said...


Happy Thanksgiving. Too bad we are reading this from work. We had our Thanksgiving last month, it was so long ago (October 12th). I don't think I would have built a ranch where the prev dam was.
Great shot of the Cow Circle. Have never seen one before.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Derek said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too. I really dig the Ural. I got to see one up close and personal the other day when I stopped by my local bike shop. I'd never seen one in the flesh before. Two-wheel drive for the winter. Got any plans for doing doughnuts in the snow?

Charlie6 said...

Bobskoot, I had just seen pics of a sheep circle in one of the forums so seeing the cows do it was kind of weird and coincidental.

Derek, last time I was on snow, I did not go fast enough for doughnuts....still...there's some snow projected for tomorrow

Rob said...

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! The photos of the dam were great! I look forward to riding in Colorado again soon and your journal of rides have given me some great ideas. Thanks again and be safe!

Charlie6 said...

Rob, thanks for visiting and your kind words....