Friday, August 7, 2020

High mountain passes and wide open high elevation valleys - fun in Colorado on the BMW

 We left Colorado Springs a bit later than usual this morning for a shorter day's ride to Silverthorne, Colorado, retracing yesterday's route at the beginning on US 24 west through Manitou Spring to Woodland Park where we picked up Colorado 67 north to Deckers. We went from heavy, 4-lane traffic on US 24 to a quiet, sweeping ride on 67 which is much more to our liking. We turned north onto County Route 126 and followed two motorcycles for a few miles, enjoying the twists and turns through the high elevation forest.

The quiet ride ended when we turned south onto busy US 285, following traffic through the mountains. This highway follows the path of a former railroad line from Denver, and at times we saw the South Platte River at the base of the mountains.

US 285 winds up 10,000' elevation Kenosha Pass where the Colorado Trail, a 567 mile hiking trail between Denver and Durango, crosses the highway.

The descent down the western side of the Pass is much more steep, with some hairpin turns to keep it fun. At the bottom of the pass we entered South Park, a wide valley at around 9,000' elevation that is surrounded by steep, tall, snowy mountain peaks.

This is ranching country, and while it was a warm 74 degrees today in early August, we imagined what it would be like in this area in the middle of winter where 145" of snow is the average for the year.

We turned north on Colorado 9 in Fairplay, founded in 1858 during the height of the Pike's Peak gold rush. Fairplay sits at 9,953' elevation and at around 800 people, it's the largest town in South Park. We stopped at the Brown Burro Cafe for lunch before continuing north out of the South Park valley on Route 9 as we climbed up 11,542' Hoosier Pass and crossing the Continental Divide.

The 8% grade made the descent down Hoosier Pass a lot of fun with twisties and hairpin turns.

Route 9 continues into Breckenridge, a popular ski resort and on this Friday afternoon it was also packed with summer tourists.

We turned east on I-70 for about 3 miles to the Silverthorne exit, our stop for the weekend as we spend some times with our sons who live in the Denver area. We'll be back on the BMW on Monday, starting the last 3 days of trip as we head toward home.

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