Guanella Pass Scenic Byway

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 atΒ 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.

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The Georgetown Visitors Center

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.Β 

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Georgetown Reservoir in the distance after a quick and twisty ascent on 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.

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View to the east, showing the treeline at about 11,000 feet

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The fabulous road and views ahead!

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!

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Looking north

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Looking southeast at Mt Evans in the distance and Mt Bierstadt

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Looking northwest to Mt Wilcox

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! πŸ˜‰

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.

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US Forest Service sign…sigh.

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. πŸ™‚

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Looking south and dropping rapidly

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For a road closed in winter, it was in pristine shape! Or maybe that’s why…

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.

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Big Daddy looks like he’s going to butt someone!

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Now we have his attention…look at the crowd on the hill!

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!

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Then they started to drift to our side of the road

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And get closer!

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And closer! Squeee!

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.

 

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View from the picnic area

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!!!

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Jerry documenting this milestone…his second 100k on a motorcycle!

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Proof! πŸ™‚

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.Β  The vistas, roads, and wildlife really delivered for us!

13 thoughts on “Guanella Pass Scenic Byway

  1. I always mark the occasion in some way when I take a vehicle over 100,000 miles. Pretty impressive on a motorcycle though. Guanella Pass is gorgeous in the Fall–probably peaking right about now. And yes, Georgetown warrants a return visit. We’ve made a number of stops at that visitor’s center, continuing on to other destinations as you did. But a few years ago we spent the day there, wandering through the shops and galleries on their historic main street and eating lunch at the Happy Cooker restaurant. Evergreen is our go-to when we want a quick trip to the mountains. Not as many shops, but Beau-Jo’s Pizza is one of our favorite restaurants anywhere (they also have locations in Idaho Springs, Steamboat, Longmont, Fort Collins, and Arvada.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JD, Thank you for the tips on Georgetown, Evergreen, and especially Beau-Jo’s. We have heard about Beau-Jo’s before, and have not tried it yet, but we will! So much to see…and our time is winding down, but we’ll be back next year, so these things are on the list! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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