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Jman 01-31-2013 07:58 AM

One Week in Colorado
Planning on spending the first week of September in Colorado with some friends riding. Is it possible to have a central point of operations and ride a different route each day allowing me to hit a good majority of the highlights?

What would that central point be?

Is the first week of September a good time tour in Colorado?

What are some absolute do not miss roads to hit while we are down there?

Thanks! :freaky

DADODIRT 01-31-2013 08:21 AM

That is about the best time of the year to explore. Kido's are back in school. Lots of camping available. Roads are in the best shape of the year.

Central location?? Lake City is pretty good, but very remote. Ouray has the hot springs and tons of great riding. Those would by my first two suggestions.

Jman 01-31-2013 10:22 AM

Thanks for the ideas. I should also clarify that this is a pavement based ride, my bike is not suited to dirt. :norton

RickS 01-31-2013 10:40 AM

Sept is great for the reasons above. Ouray to silverton is a great ride. The Colorado natl monument and the grand Mesa is great. I love independence pass. You got a week there or does that include the coming and going and are you riding in or hauling? What direction you enter colorado would help with suggestions to maximize you time there. Shoot me a pm and I can give u some suggestions that we have enjoyed when up there on street bikes

ZappBranigan 01-31-2013 11:03 AM

September is a fantastic time to be there. Late September gives you the golden aspen trees but also the possiblity of worse weather. Early september doesn't give you the spectacular color changes but is warmer and snow is less likely.

Once you get into the Rockies, it's hard to find a bad route in CO so finding a good one is easy.

As for a central location, I would recommend Buena Vista, Leadville, Dillon or Breckenridge. From any of those locations you have good paved MC roads in all directions.

As for "must see" rides, really you could spend a Month on Colorado and not hit them all. A few to consider (in no partiuclar order) are:

* Independence Pass (CO 82) between Leadville and Aspen. This is the 2nd highest continuous paved road in the US.
* Trail Ridge Road (US 34) in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is the highest continuous paved road in the US.
* Mount Evans rd (CO 5). At 14,125' this is the highest paved road in North America, possibly the highest paved road in the Western Hemisphere (don't know if South America has higher paved roads or not. I know it has higher unpaved roads.)
* Loveland Pass (US 6) between Silver Plume and Dillon
* Monarch Pass (US 50) between Poncha Springs and Gunnison
* McClure pass (CO 133) between Carbondale and Paonia
* CO 92 between Hotchkiss and Sapinero.
* Unaweep/Tabegauche Scenic Byway (CO 141) between Naturita and Grand Junction.
* Lizard Head Pass (CO 145) between Telluride and Dolores.
* Wolf Creek Pass (US 160) between South Fork and Pagosa Springs
* Slumgullion Pass (CO 149 between Gunnison and South Fork.)
* Red Hill Pass/Million Dollar Highway (US 550) between Durango and Ouray.
and one "out of the way" but very fun recommendation:
* Douglas Pass (CO 139) between Fruita and Rangely.

Obviously, I've left a lot of them out, but really all you need to do is get a good map and then figure out where you want to go - even the "worst" road in CO is likely to be better than the "best" MC road out in the flatlands.

One thing: Be prepared for Winter conditions year 'round. It's been known to rain/snow/hail on top of Mount Evans or Trail Ridge even in July. Cold Weather gear is a must no matter what time of year you are riding in CO. And if you are planning on going over passes higher than 11,000' or so, it's better to "summit" them in the morning as afternoons tend to bring thunderstorms. Being above treeline, you will be a target for lightning which kills a lot of people in CO each year.

Remember also that September is the start of the rutting season for deer and elk so you have to be careful of animals on or near the road. Best advice IMO is to plan your riding so you are NOT riding after dark (and why would you want to, anyway? You'll miss the scenery!)

EDIT: Here's a pic of me near the top of Trail Ridge Road in early September, 1999. Notice how cold/wet it looks!

Jman 01-31-2013 05:16 PM

Lots of great info so far, please keep it coming. As for the questions asked around logistics:

We will be trailering in :puke1 and will have 6 days available for riding. Will be arriving from the East as we are coming from Ontario.

And yes the worst road in Colorado is going to be better than the best road in Ontario.

Can't wait. Have the map and book from Butler Maps (Christmas present from my kids) just looking for more local input. Once we figure out the final head count for all those attending, could be from 5 - 10, we'll start looking for accomodation.

Thanks again !

biosci 02-16-2013 12:46 PM

Riding Colorado
Get the BUTLER MAPS. Worth every penny, and saves a lot of time. Wise and experienced advice.
Any Rocky Mountain road is an adventure compared to flatlands riding.
Last two weeks in June, July, August, September, first two weeks October.

gharnden 02-17-2013 05:20 PM

Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs is a great central location to go in and out of.

Failo 02-17-2013 05:59 PM

Buena Vista
Buena Vista is pretty central, and there are certainly worse places to be in September.

sealsam 02-18-2013 05:47 AM

Steve Farson's book..

Pretty basic, but more reading..

kantuckid 02-18-2013 06:22 AM

You've been given great info.-now you may want to zone into an area based on if camping or need lodging as CO can be pricey for a room & some campings spots are nicer or closer to food,etc.. My vote goes to Glenwood Springs as a base area. Steamboat Springs might keep you closer the direction you come in from.

N-Id-Jim 02-19-2013 04:21 PM

Gunnison would be my vote. Cheap accomodations, camping nearby, laundrymat, etc,, tons of excellent routes / day trips from there.

rocker59 02-19-2013 04:49 PM


Originally Posted by N-Id-Jim (Post 20764196)
Gunnison would be my vote.

Salida is also a good one, being at the junction of several highways, and on The Arkansas River.

Ouray is good. Several nice loops to ride from there. Could stay at Ridgway or Montrose, which are near to Ouray.

kantuckid 02-20-2013 06:08 AM

Another tidbit on western mtn travel-when camping/living in the boonies, that's uncommon elsewhere, there you can go to town & take a shower! Often times a laundromat will have a public, small fee shower but check around. You'll smell better!:D

MountainsandRivers 02-20-2013 09:13 AM


Originally Posted by kantuckid (Post 20767940)
Another tidbit on western mtn travel-when camping/living in the boonies, that's uncommon elsewhere, there you can go to town & take a shower! Often times a laundromat will have a public, small fee shower but check around. You'll smell better!:D

Or just plan the occasional stop at one of the numerous free or commercial hot springs. Great way to clean up. If I had 6 days, I would consider 2 stops, one that takes advantage of the central/northern rides like Poudre Canyon out of ft Collins, or Big Thompson Canyon out of Loveland up to Rocky Mtn National Park, over to Grand Lake then loop to the Poudre or loop the other way to get to Nederland and down Boulder Canyon..lots of good twisties up there..then do another base out of Ouray or Silverton and do a lot of the awesome southwest corner rides...if I was to only do one base, Glenwood makes sense, but the days will be longer to get a lot of the great rides in..not that that is a bad thing!

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