Sunday, December 20, 2015

Uraling to Red Rocks and Echo Lake

It had been three days since the big snow storm had hit the Metro Denver area and things were getting back to normal in terms of clear main roads and warmer temperatures.

Our neighborhood streets remained snow-covered with crushed-down snow and ice but Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar again had no issues motoring out short before 8:00AM.

We road on mostly clear main roads across the metro area.  Traffic was beginning to get heavy with swarms of unwary cagers rushing to the local malls to buy Christmas presents I assume.  Soon, Scarlett and I were clear of that mess that is called Denver and we got to the small foothill town of Morrison.

After tanking up, it was time to peruse the snow-covered scenery of nearby Red Rocks park.  This park with its large and scenic rock formations is a favorite day trip destination for the metro area.  The park also boasts an amphitheater literally carved out of and between two really large rock formations, quite cool.

The empty parking lots had enough snow for Scarlett and I to play a little bit with riding about in the snow with 2WD engaged, but alas, no other Uralisti had elected to join me so no movies.

Ship Rock

The roads in the park were clear for the most part but there were ice patches that reminded one to pay attention!  Not too many people in the park even though temperatures were in the 40s Fahrenheit.

Leaving Red Rocks, we proceeded on CO Highway 74 through Bear Creek Canyon and the small mountain towns of Idledale, Kittredge and eventually got to Evergreen.

At Evergreen, we motored through the town and got on Upper Bear Creek Canyon road to head further into the foothills.  This canyon road is a two lane road, paved and mostly clear of snow that day except for the shady areas which still had enough to cause one to slow down.

I stopped at the usual spot a bit past the turn for Witter Gulch Road and got this shot of nearby mountain peaks:

Turning back towards Witter Gulch Road, we rode north along it for a bit but had to stop when I spotted this really large elk crossing the road, by the time I had stopped on the side of the road it had run up to the side of the hill opposite me.

 Quite the rack wouldn't you say?

At this point, I was less than 60 feet from the Elk

Continuing on, Witter Gulch Road winds up towards its junction with Squaw Pass Road through a series of sometimes very tight hairpin turns.  Luckily, the road is now paved and was clear of snow, mostly.

Once on Squaw Pass Road, aka CO Highway 103, I headed further west for about ten miles to reach the vicinity of Echo Lake and the junction with CO Highway 5, aka the Mount Evans Road.  The Mount Evans road is closed for the season, it's one of two paved roads here in Colorado where one can motor all the way to the summit when the road is open and weather conditions permit.

 Views of distant and nearby mountain peaks while on Squaw Pass Road

 Echo Lake

Finishing off the above pictures, Scarlett and I retraced our route back towards the junction of Witter Gulch Road but stayed on Squaw Pass to get to Bergen Park.  Going now downhill, things got a bit more "interesting" on the tight turns since there was more snow covering the ground at times.  This part of CO 103 has many shady spots where the snow hasn't melted much after the snow plows went a lot more judicious braking is involved.

Still, made it down to Bergen Park with no issues and I rode CO74 down back to Evergreen.  I stopped at the dam which forms Evergreen Lake and got this shot of the cold, cold waters:

 Evergreen Lake and Dam

Yep, that's people on the frozen lake, doing some fishing or recreating.  No, vehicles not allowed on the frozen lake.  Just as well, because my experience with ice patches so far tells me the rig would just sit there spinning helplessly without studs on the tires!

Crossing through the town of Evergreen once more, Scarlett and I motored on CO Highway 74 back through Kittredge but this time spotted a scenic opportunity in Idledale.  Getting off the main road, I found myself in a small narrow trail loop alongside a small creek; part of Bear Creek I assume.

 Lots of ducks to be seen walking about the ice floes formed on top
of the creeks flowing waters.

Idledale neighborhood

The rest of the ride was just motoring out of the foothills through Morrison, and back into the Metro Denver area where the traffic had gotten significantly heavier with holiday shopping cagers.  I witnessed the usual acts of stupidity and unwary driving but made it home just fine.  I was a bit warm on the way home, temperatures had soared into the low 60s Fahrenheit according to the on board thermometer!


Unknown said...

Thanks for your blog. We really enjoyed living in Evergreen in the late '90s. You brought back some great memories. Now that I am riding again, I should get back for some foothills enjoyment.

redlegsrides said...

Thank you Gene Culver, glad you liked the stuff.

SonjaM said...

I wouldn't mind a bit of snow right now, especially with that new pedal bike of mine ;-) Dom, awesome pics as usual. Wonderfully clear skies and low traffic thanks to X-mas shoppers otherwise engaged.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks SonjaM, Colorado and snow make it easy to take pictures....

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Envious of your riding area and conditions Dom. Been a long time since I visited Red Rocks, thanks for a return trip!

redlegsrides said...

thanks for the comments Coop, it was a nice day yesterday, today gray and cold....usually Ural weather but not feeling the muse.

Shaun Pond said...

Thanks for sharing the story and the pictures. I grew up in Denver and didn't think that I missed its winter weather until I read this.
A question about the 2WD on the Ural: are you able to use it on paved roads when there's snow? I've ridden a friend's out here in California, and the 2WD was usable only on dirt roads.
Please keep up the interesting rides and posts!

redlegsrides said...

Shaun Pond, you're welcome. As to use of 2WD, one can only use it safely when traction conditions are slippery. If you use 2WD on dry pavement, not only is the rig unsteerable (imagine the steering locked straight as if chained) you also risk damaging the final drive! I try to use it only when needed so I don't get to "used to" or "dependent" on it.

It's great fun, 2WD in really deep loose sand, snow, mud, and such.

Just remember, 2WD will get you about 100 meters further into the nasty stuff before you get stuck.... :)