Monday, January 23, 2012

Squaw Pass Road in Winter

Sunday,  we woke to overcast and gloomy skies here in the Denver Metro Area, I decided to ride up to CO 103 or Squaw Pass Road in the hopes that the sun would clear out or break through the clouds at altitude.  You see, Squaw Pass is at 9847 feet altitude and the clouds over Denver seemed lower than that.

It was a mild 40°F and very windy as I transited the metro area via I-25 to the US6 super slab heading west.  I then took a short portion of C-470 south to the exit for the town of Morrison and the beginning of the Bear Creek Canyon Road. This is a very twisty road, with high rocky canyon walls and I motored through the small towns of Idledale, Kittredge and finally Evergreen with no incident and very little traffic.

The temperature had dropped by a few degrees now that I was past the foothills but it was still not bad at near freezing temperatures.  I continued heading west out of the town of Evergreen, riding on Upper Bear Creek rode past the McMansions bordering Bear Creek.  Soon enough, I'd twisted my way through that development and stopped Yoshie a little bit past the turnoff for Witter Gulch Road.

Near Upper Bear Creek Road
Windblown mountain peaks in the distance

The strong winds continued to howl down from the mountains, and you could see the snow being blown about on the distant mountain peaks.  This wind added that much more "effect" to the cold temperatures as I returned to Witter Gulch Road and started ascending on it towards CO103.  The road becomes a dirt trail but it was clear of ice and snow and I made good time on it till I reached Squaw Pass Road.

From there its about ten miles to Echo Lake and the entrance to the Mount Evans Road (which is closed for the season).  The road slowly became more and more ice and snow-covered as I gained altitude but nothing of concern for good old Yoshie, my sidecar rig.

The thermometer I'd mounted earlier in the month said I hit a low of 13°F as I got near Echo Lake and let me tell you, it felt like it!  I was regretting not wearing my thermal underwear but once I donned my snow helmet's breathing mask and my heavy gloves at a stop, it was all good.

 Views of the peaks near Mount Evans as I approached Echo Lake

This was the best view I got of Mount Evans today

I got to Echo Lake with no issues, just in time to watch a couple of out-of-town tourists from Illinois trying hard to set up a wind shelter out on the frozen lake.  Never mind the sign that said: "Keep off the Lake".  I watched them flounder in the high winds with some satisfaction and then I took a picture of the lake.

Echo Lake

It was close to 11:30 by this point so I started retracing my steps back towards Evergreen.  The sun had indeed broken free of the overcast skies as you saw in the pictures and temperatures soared into the low 20s!  After the hour or so I'd spent in the teens, it felt positively "balmy".

Here's a video to give you an idea of the road conditions on the higher portions of Squaw Pass Road.  There were spots were it was just dry pavement but it was not a good day for two-wheeled motorcycles on the mountain today.

I made it back to the turnoff for Witter Gulch Road after a brief detour to ride up and down Squaw Mountain Road.  It led to some telecom antenna farm facility which was a secured facility so I was not able to go all the way to the top.  The sign that said: "Patrolled by attack dogs" and no sign of fences kind of dissuades the curious from going much further, shall we say.

The rest of the ride home was pretty smooth and slightly monotonous as temperatures soared once again back into the mid-40s once I entered the metro area once again.  Not a very long ride but hopefully you'll like the photos and video I took.

Hope you got a ride in today.

Note: my previous post: My first work of fiction.  Give it a read if you've the time, let me know what you think.


irondad said...

Isn't it amazing how much diffence seeing the sun ( or not ) makes to our perception of the cold?

Enjoyed the video, but as a dedicated two wheeler it freaks me out to see my front wheel that far to the left of my viewpoint.

Monotonous ride? With that scenery? How quickly one becomes jaded!

RichardM said...

Beautiful scenery! It looks like Spring has already arrived with all the sunlight.

SonjaM said...

Amazing ride! I especially loved that last piece with the new music starting from 3:00. It was a perfect fit for eyes and ears.
No riding here, and no fun with in the torrential rains we get right now, so once again I am thankful for you letting me ride pillion.

redlegsrides said...

Irondad, I fear you may be right, one does tend to get jaded at times....must quit doing that. Re the cold, no perception, the thermometer went from 13 to 24!

Richard, thanks for the visit and the comments...we do get a lot of sun here in Colorado.

SonjaM: you're most welcome.

Unknown said...


I'm just getting caught up in my reading. You seem to be going fairly fast on that snow covered road. I get cold just looking at all that snow. Not much traffic either.

I was imagining the scene in your prev post and when you mentioned that "handsome" person, I thought you were talking about someone other than yourself, I could picture the scene in my mind, sort of like a James Bond entrance. I can also picture Jack with all those scantily clad women, peeling grapes for him

Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...


thanks for corroborating the fact that Handsome and I are not inclusive factors. I'll leave the identity of "the rider" a mystery for now.

The video makes it look I was going faster than I actually was...

thanks for visiting and commenting.

Anonymous said...


Bluekat said...

Such beautiful scenery. The mountains are Gorgeous. I'm not sure I could take all the cold and snow, so I'll have to enjoy your photos from the warmth of my kitchen. :)

Keith - Circle Blue said...

"I donned my snow helmet's breathing mask." Are you running a BRP(Skidoo) helmet? How do you like it. I looked at them, but found the breathing mask awkward. Chris loves his. Just Curious.

redlegsrides said...

JohnAshford, thanks! and Ron would do fine...a few layers, perhaps a sidecar.....

Circleblue...yep its a skidoo helmet, did a posting about it previously....helps a lot when its really cold...and its not exactly comfy but beats not being able to see....