Waaay back in the middle of August (how can it be the middle of September already?), Jerry and I were itching for a motorcycle ride. There was an ulterior motive for my dear husband, which will reveal itself later in the blog, but generally, we just wanted to get out there, see some beauty, while running up some miles. Since we are fortunate enough to still be here in Northern Colorado, we had endless options for spectacular scenery.
We scoured the maps and decided to ride Guanella Pass, on the recommendation of moto-blog friend Michael who beautifully documents his moto-adventures at Motoventures. Check him out when you can…he lives near Colorado Springs and regularly gets out to enjoy and share the incredible sights that Colorado has to offer!
We left Estes Park early on a Monday morning, and rode south on CO 7, then CO 72 through cool little Nederland, then skipped around the casino towns of Blackhawk and Central City on CO 119 to I-70 for just a short hop. We left the slab at the historic town of Georgetown, at about 80ish miles, which would be worth a visit if we weren’t on a mission.
We stopped briefly at the Visitors Center, where we got a hot tip on a lunch stop at the south end of Guanella Pass, then wound our way through the Georgetown streets and quickly ascended 381 South, Guanella Pass Road.
About halfway up to the Pass, in the middle of another set of tight switchback turns, we stopped for a view back down the valley from whence we came. Wow! The scenery was filled with views (and scents) of evergreen and wildflowers.
We passed three more beautiful lakes and countless mountain peaks before reaching the summit of the pass, at 11,670 feet in elevation. We walked around at the Guanella Pass trailhead and overlook and WOW, what views!
And what summit visit would be complete without a short 360-degree video? It was rather windy, so you can’t really hear my narration…that’s probably ok too! 😉
We enjoyed our visit to the summit and a short hike out to an overlook where the video was made, but one thing was missing…a Guanella Pass Summit sign! They usually have the name and the elevation, but alas, this pass did not have an official sign so this one would have to do.
From the summit, heading south, the road changed numbers to CO 62 (Geneva Rd) and we descended rather rapidly through an elegant but dramatic set of switchbacks. Had to stop for a photo op…my husband is very patient. 🙂
And then we hit the wildlife jackpot! An entire herd of Big Horn sheep! I took 1,375,485 photos, and a video, but will try to show you only the best. Haha. We edged as close as we thought they would tolerate and shut off the engines.
Now that the bikes were quiet, they lost interest in us and just went about their sheep business. So I took a video. Soooo CUTE!
And then they headed off into the brush and we resumed our travel south.
We made a brief stop at the Whiteside Picnic area, mostly because we were riding along Duck Creek and were fascinated by the milky look of the water.
The scenery on the remainder of CO 62 was beautiful, with mountain views, wildflower meadows, and deep gulches. By this time, we were starving, though, so we headed directly to the end of 62 and turned north on US 385 at the hamlet of Grant. This is where we found the lunch spot recommended by the kind man at the Georgetown Visitors Center, The Shaggy Sheep. We enjoyed a healthy and fresh lunch in a locally owned restaurant, and would recommend you stop if you are ever in the area!
We continued North on 285 to Conifer, then 73 and 74 to meet I-70 at Evergreen. This was a cute town that may warrant a future visit. We zipped a short distance on the interstate, then skirted Golden and headed north on CO 93 to Golden Gate Canyon Road, where we headed west to complete our 200-mile loop. At the entrance to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Jerry’s ulterior motive manifested itself in the form of 100,000 miles on his 2011 BMW GS Adventure!!!
We stopped at Golden Gate Canyon State Park and rode up to Panorama Point. Unfortunately, the weather had deteriorated and the expansive view was completely covered in clouds. We made the wise decision to “get thee home” post haste and beat the rain to Estes, fortunately. It was a great day of riding which produced a significant milestone for Jerry!
I highly recommend a visit to Guanella Pass, if you are in the metro Denver or Rocky Mountain region. The vistas, roads, and wildlife really delivered for us!