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Old 07-17-2010, 06:29 PM   #1
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An "Almost Heaven" DR gets "Rocky Mountain High"

Since I bought my DR a year ago, I have wanted to take a trip on it. I have also wanted to see the Rocky Mountains for quite a while, so I thought I would put the two together. I got a chance to take my vacation early and a friend of mine was going to Oklahoma and agreed to haul me and the DR with him to give me around a thousand mile head start on my trip. Not an idea start, but it left me with no excuse not to go.



We left West Virginia just before 5:00am with each of us having about three hours sleep. After 17 hours we arrived at Mark and Jennifer's, his daughter and son in law, in south east Oklahoma just before dark.



After a good nights sleep, I still had some maintenance to do and pack everything on the bike.


I got started just before noon. I was talking to Mark about my choices on local roads and he made a couple suggestions.
Leaving from Nashoba, I could either go west a few miles and hit the slab north to Tulsa, or I could backtrack a few miles east and take some two lanes north through the mountains.


Easy choice




Curvy mountain roads are always a good choice.



I took Indian Trail road through the Kiamichi Mountains. Some nice sweeping mountain roads for the most part. Beautiful scenery, great riding roads. Very little traffic. Also followed Rt. 82 through the San Boise Mountains. In some areas similar to parts of WV but a lot more evergreens and the hills not as steep and close together. A big part of the economy in this area is logging. The will clear cut some areas and plant back rows of evergreens. Or leave some native ones to repopulate.



I started running out of mountains, and patients. Even the flat land is interesting and offers sights to see, but after my late start I was getting anxious to put some mileage towards Colorado so I hit the slab to Tulsa. Stopped at Bass Pro to pick up some gear, then headed northwest and ended up stopping in Ponca City for the night. 278 miles closer to my goal.



Next, farther west. I had the maps to run the Trans America Trail through Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado, but I didn't have time to program them into my GPS, so in the morning I had to decide whether to try it or not. I also decided I had too much with me, so stopped at a Bass Pro shop along the way and bought a smaller tent and sleeping pad. The next morning I repacked everything and found a post office to ship some things home to make more room for me on the bike.
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Old 07-17-2010, 07:11 PM   #2
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After finding a post office and lightening my load, things packed up much better.



My decision was made early about the TAT.


It rained most of the day. I got a late start because of the re-packing so was anxious to make some miles. Also I have read some ride reports on the TAT in Oklahoma that showed some nasty mud in the rain, and wasn't interested in getting messed up in any of it.



Lots of flat land heading across northern Oklahoma. In the rain most of the day, the wind was pretty steady as well. I normally get in the mid forties per gallon on my DR, but in this wind I got around 32 to 34 all day.


Lots of straight roads as well.


I had to throw this one in for Pnoman




Oklahoma has historical markers too.

Think we should start another thread

Except for the rain, this was still an interesting area. Not much to show up in photos, but still plenty to see. I wouldn't mind running the TAT through here sometime.

Everything wasn't flat.


I saw a sign for another historical maker coming up. From the road I had been on that day, I assumed it was going to say "First curve in 50 miles"

Surprisingly, that wasn't what it was.


I got up in the north west corner of the state and decided to explore a little bit.

I thought for a minute I was almost home.


I found this next one interesting.

I had always wondered about the panhandle of Oklahoma. Turns out, no one else wanted it

OOHHH, Oklahoma twisties...



Lots of nice welcome signs out in this area.


Hey, some wildlife.



He posed so nicely for the camera.

Another day, very wet day, but a little closer to my goal.
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Old 07-17-2010, 08:25 PM   #3
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Third day on the road and at least things look dryer.

I tried to figure out how to get a photo of a large one of these


I couldn't get a good one, so this is the best I got. I couldn't believe how long they make these. Wish I had a lawn mower like this.

I can't imagine how long it took to plow these fields by horse. Would have been rough enough with this.



Somewhere in this area I saw a very nice mule deer buck, but he was too quick for me to get a picture.

One more state.
I talked to some locals and was told the most scenic route from where I was went across northern New Mexico. Sounded OK to me.


New Mexico has them too...

They could use a little refurbishing though.

They even sent out the welcoming committee for me.



These two fellas did not like me being between them.



There was one on each side of the road, and they didn't appreciate the fact I stopped between them.

This is what I was looking for




Things are looking up.

There are some beautiful areas here.






I was riding across this wide flat valley and the speed limit dropped. I couldn't figure out what it was. I came across a hump, and there sit tour buses and cars. I still couldn't see anything, then this showed up.




a

This gorge running through, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.



With a beautiful bridge that barely shows from the road.





More beautiful places, still in New Mexico.



This is part of the San Juan mountains and was a great start in seeing the Rockies.

I got into Chama NM at dark. They were just starting their fireworks. I didn't get any photos of them, but it was a pretty nice show. I couldn't believe how many people were in this little town for the show, it was packed on both sides of the road.

Tomorrow Colorado.
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:51 AM   #4
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Three days and a thousand miles and I'm finally moving up into Colorado.



I wanted to see some of the area before I settled in to camp.



I ran 84 up into Pagosa Springs then took 160 up to South Fork.



Much of the land in this area is National Forest. Also because of the mining, there are roads everywhere.
A view of Treasure Falls



And just across the road.



I decided I should start getting acclimated, so I took a walk up to see the falls.



I saw quite a bit of this the next few days.



At South Fork, I took 149 up past Lake City.



Lots of abandoned mine structures.







Heading over towards Montrose and decided I would take a shortcut. First dirt in Colorado.





Before I headed out here I asked if there were particular roads I should be sure and hit. I was told that any road west of I25 would be worth taking. This one was proving that to be true.





My first camping spot in Ridgeway State Park.



Unfortunately I could only get a spot for two days. This was a nice camp and could have worked for most of the week.



Not a bad view.


Next day.... how about a pass or two??
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:22 PM   #5
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Thumb Lookin' Good

That ain't WV is it Duck?
I'm enjoying your pics and report, thanks for posting.
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:32 PM   #6
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a pass or two or three

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Old 07-18-2010, 03:13 PM   #7
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I decided I would do a little off road riding today. Dropped my windshield (I broke the last one the last time I did much off road) and switched to a smaller counter sprocket. I wasn't sure what to expect after some of the things I have read about.

This is at Ouray. I didn't spend much time there, but it seems like a nice town. All the towns in this area are very tourist oriented.



There is a nice campground just as you start south from Ouray. The Amphitheater I believe it was called.
You have to watch the elevation of where you are camping. A couple thousand feet can make a big difference in the temperature overnight.
A view from the campground.



Let's check out some of these back roads.





The road was not as bad as I thought.





Plenty of snow still in the higher elevations.



First we'll check out Engineer Pass.



So many rocks, it's almost like it's paved...





Some beautiful views on these mountains.



Also lots of Jeeps and four wheelers.



Particularly on the Alpine Loop, 4th of July week, there was a lot of traffic. Turns out you can stop in just about any town around and rent a jeep or ATV of some type to take over these roads. They say there are a few you are not allowed to cross with a rental, but we will get to that later.

Decisions, decisions...



I head on up to Engineer Pass.

Going up!



Looking down on some of the roads below.



Like I say, there are a lot of roads on some of these hills. Back in the 1800's they pretty much mined most of this area out. There are only a few working mines left. It looks to me like the biggest industry left in this area is tourism. These passes are a big part of that.
Even if you come through this area in a cage, or street bike, it would be worth looking into one of the rentals just to see some of these mountains and ghost towns.





They call this area the Swill Alps of the Rockies. It is definitely a beautiful area.

A few pictures on the way down.
How about a little cottage on the hill?





I can imagine there could be some devastating landslides in this area. I wouldn't want to winter in a mining camp here.




Some interesting things to see hanging around.



This took me back into Lake City. I then turned around and headed back the other part of the loop.



There is a lot to see around here.





Back up we go again. Towards Cinnamon this time.



Lots of snow still. Of course that is what keeps the water falls running.





There was enough traffic up here that the sign was blocked when I got there.



More fun roads on the way down.



This drops down to Animas Forks. A mining ghost town.





I'll have a little more on this later as I came back through here and across Cinnamon again. Also a story about the snow banks on top.

Part of this is on the TAT and I was trying to follow it through this area. I wasn't certain which way to turn at Animas Forks and was trying to work that out, when a fellow came down the hill and stopped with a TAT sticker on his F800 GS. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon and he was thinking of taking the route into Silverton. He had the TAT programmed in, so I asked him to show me which turn to take. He started to go ahead and follow it with me until we came to a washed out bridge. He wasn't too interested in fording the creek, and turned back towards Silverton. I went on, knowing there was another pass ahead.



I love being able to look down on these roads, and on the little alpine lakes.



I guess there is another pass or two on the way out.



A little snow on top?



The sign could use a little work.



Hurricane Pass.

I took this picture then noticed something...



That is a rain storm coming my way!!!

I have read in several places not to be on one of these passes when a thunder storm is in the area. So I head out of there.

Of course there is still a lot to see on the way out.



Including another pass.







I come back later to finish this loop. I veered off to follow the TAT and was glad I did. Barely even got wet.



I would definitely recommend doing this loop if you are in the area.

Few more passes later.
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Old 07-18-2010, 04:09 PM   #8
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I came up on that bridge over the Rio Grand from the other side a few years ago. It is amazing how it looks like a big old plain and like you said all of a sudden you see all the vehicles parked and you think what is going on. I was heading for a friends campground in Capulin NM and didn't realize I was going to get to ride through a beautiful mountain range getting there.
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Old 07-18-2010, 07:41 PM   #9
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Old 07-19-2010, 03:16 AM   #10
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I'm following every turn of the wheel, and shutter snap. Great write up.
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Old 07-19-2010, 10:08 AM   #11
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Lovin' it, Duck. Thanks for throwing in a few historical markers!
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Old 07-19-2010, 05:26 PM   #12
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Alright, it's Wednesday, my tires are due in at a shop in Durango...



None too late.

The day before I helped a local guy on a DRZ replace a tube in his front tire and I wondered when one of those rocks was going to pop right through my rear tire. Thanks to Buff36 my front was still in decent shape. Not the greatest tire for the off road riding, but I wouldn't have made it without it.

I had to leave my campsite today, so I packed up and decided I would head southwest and end up at Durango in the afternoon for my tires. Started down the Million Dollar Highway, 550. For anyone that hasn't been here (me before this trip) this is a snow shed.



On highway 550 to prevent frequent avalanches in this spot from blocking the road. Not too sure this is a good motorcycle road in the winter!!

Another pass...



These things are everywhere

There is no way photos can show what a place really looks like, and I'm no photographer, but I couldn't help trying.



Another familiar pass heading west



Heading up





Have to throw in one of these



I don't remember if the sign was missing on this one, or if there were too many people in the way, but there was a storm brewing on top. Almost everyday after the first day I was riding I hit some rain in the afternoon.



Still a beautiful view.





This town was a little different than most around.



Shortly after this I called about my tires and they weren't in. They said the 4th messed up their shipping so they should be in Thursday

I headed up into Telluride and found this in behind it.



As you can see the rain had set in by this time, but I was already wet so I decided to look around some.





Turns out this is as far as you can go. It is one way up the back side of Black Bear Pass from here. Too steep and narrow for two way traffic.



This is looking down on Telluride above the house at the top of the waterfall in the earlier picture.





Apparently it had something to do with mining at some point in time.



By this time I was wet and cold and decided to head down to Cortez for the night and see Mesa Verde NP in the morning.
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Old 07-19-2010, 07:22 PM   #13
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Mesa Verde National Park is a pretty place and interesting, but allow at least a day if you want to see very much of it.





26 miles in to one of the areas you can see some ruins.





There are a couple you can walk in to see, some you have to ride a tram to get to and some of them you have to buy tickets for a tour.
I walked into one of them, I think it was about a mile round trip.



There was actually two different dwellings under this cliff. They said they were settled a few hundred years apart. Both had similar rooms. The larger round areas were ceremonial chambers. They also had storage areas and sleeping areas.









Apparently the people who lived here didn't get over 5' tall. Even at that these were pretty small spaces. Of course it would get cold here in the winter, so small spaces would be easier to heat.

After I left here I went back to the parking lot and called about my tires and they still weren't in. This left me somewhat frustrated and not in any mood to see more of the architecture, so I took off. By the way, they are working on the road here and it is slow going, with waits in both directions. There is gravel all over the road also. There are other roads and other ruins that would be worth visiting, but will have to be another time for me.

On the way out.



Back up 550 to find a place to camp.



There is an overlook at this pass that is definitely worth stopping for. Beautiful views.







Silverton.



And my camp for the next couple nights.



This was just north of Silverton. The campground was full, so I found a place in the forest in a "designated camping area".

There were people camping everywhere this week. I don't know how often it is like this, but it was hard to find a campsite that wasn't surrounded.

Still a few more passes to go. Can I make all of them

Not tonight.
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:20 AM   #14
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When I helped the guy change his tire, he was on his way to Stony Pass. He said it was one of his favorite areas to ride, so I thought I would check it out.

Heading east out of Silverton





Indian sign language??



No, just a sign for the continental divide trail.

No motorcycles allowed though



This is a hiking trail. A long hiking trail, they recommend planning on 6 months if you want to do the whole thing.

Lots of old abandoned mines around and mine equipment



I didn't see any sign at the top of this one, just more vehicles, so I started down the other side.







It was a long trail. You get to ford the Rio Grand River, just about peg depth today. I didn't realize what it was at the time, so no pictures.







It comes out between Lake City and Creede on 149.



Again, all nice roads and beautiful scenery, but finally my tires are ready, so I have to make a 2 1/2 hour trip to Durango.

But at least now my DR has new shoes



Still a few troublesome passes to go.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:02 AM   #15
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Great trip, great pics and great report. You got me thinking about next summer Thanks for posting
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