We turned east on US 491 in Monticello, passing farmland and soon crossing into Colorado.
The real fun began when we headed north on Colorado 141, a 154 mile scenic route that climbs over Slick Rock Hill and crosses wide, barren valleys. We saw more signs stating 'no snowplowing between 7pm and 5am' than we did cars or trucks, and absolutely no other motorcycles. Having the road to ourselves gave us the wide-open views that we love, and the opportunity to ride through the twisties at whatever speed felt right.
After coming down Slick Rock Hill, we crossed the aptly named Disappointment Valley. Supposedly the valley was named by Mormon settlers who hoped to establish farms in this high, arid desert without success. The 2 lane paved road stretched in front of us as far as we could see.
After we rode through the tiny town of Naturita, a ranching community and past mining supply center, the landscape changed once again as the twisting road followed the San Miguel River through the San Juan Mountains.
Soon the San Miguel ran into the Dolores River, and the road swept through the Dolores River Canyon with red cliffs towering over us to the east.
We stopped at the Hanging Flume overlook, which offers a view of the 12 mile long wooden, open water chute (called a flume) that was built in the 1880's to transport water used in gold mining. The flume is attached to the canyon wall up to 75' above the river, and it's impossible to imagine how it was engineered and built.
The overlook is a perfect spot to stop and take a selfie.
We continued on through the Unaweep/Tabeguache Canyon where the rock walls closed in on both sides of the road as we followed the winding river.
The canyon opened up as we rode through another tiny town, Gateway, giving us wider, longer views of the rock walls that rise like skyscrapers.
We'd been on the road for 3 hours, and with no towns in sight that might have a restaurant open, we stopped at the West Creek day use area for a quick snack.
Colorado 141 ends at US 50, and we turned west through Grand Junction, a city of about 60,000 people on the Western Slope, the part of Colorado that lies west of the Continental Divide. The Western Slope comprises about 1/3 of the state's area, but only about 10% of the total state's population live here. Once through Grand Junction, we turned north onto Colorado 139 through the farming community of Egnar.
139 is part of the Dinosaur Diamond, a 480 mile loop through Colorado and Utah where dinosaur fossils and footprints from 150 million years ago have been found.
The highway twists through hairpin turns up the 8,000' Douglas Pass, and even a quick rain shower wasn't enough to dampen our enthusiasm about today's spectacular ride.
We dropped down on the north side of Douglas Pass and made a quick turn west into Rangely, our stop for the night. Rangely is a town of about 2500 people, and luckily there were three restaurants open for us to choose from. The town is named after Rangely, Maine, the hometown of one of the early businessmen. Mike's now been to both Rangelys, and they couldn't be more different.