A long day on the BMW is worth it when we get to ride through hairpin turns and long sweeping turns in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
We started the second day of our trip in Farmington, NM and quickly crossed into Colorado near Durango. We stayed on US Route 550 heading north, winding and twisting our way on the Million Dollar Highway that runs through Silverton to Ouray.
The 2-lane, narrow road, lack of guardrails, steep drop-offs and jaw-dropping scenery make this one of our favorite rides.
Gold was mined here in the San Juan Mountains with 13 peaks that top 14,000'. This area likes to call itself the "Switzerland of America" because of the steep, forested, and snowy peaks.
Once we passed through Ouray we continued north on Route 550 into Montrose, passing through a wide, green valley along the Uncompahgre River.
In Montrose, we turned east on US Route 50, a ride we've done several times. Route 50 runs along the Gunnison River and the 20-mile long Blue Mesa Reservoir.
We rode through steep, craggy gorges that opened up into wider valleys, and spotted several rafts zooming down the rapidly running river.
We twisted our way up and over Monarch Pass on the Continental Divide in the Sawatch Mountain Range, with panoramic views as we descended down into the valley and along the Arkansas River.
We chose a new route for the final miles north to Denver, starting with 9 North just west of Canon City on the Gold Belt Scenic Byway that runs along the western slope of Pike's Peak where gold was discovered in 1890.
Riding on winding, sweeping, 2-lane paved roads with almost no traffic, we enjoyed views of steep, wooded hills, snowy mountain peaks, and rushing streams.
To get into Denver, we rode the final miles of the day on highways packed with later Friday afternoon traffic. From Denver, you can see the snow-topped Rocky Mountain Peaks that we rode through earlier in the day.
We're spending the weekend in Denver with our kids, and will get back on the BMW on Monday, heading north into Wyoming.