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US 40 is a nice road, I ride it back from the salt flats when I get a chance to make it to speed week. Scenic, a lot of great little towns to stop and eat and if you're in a hurry, a long days ride.
 

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+1 on US 40 to SLC. Come back the same way until the CO border, at Dinosar 64 south to 139 south to Grand Junction, take hiway 50 east over Monarch Pass and hit 285 back to Denver.
 

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Do you want a fairly direct route (quicker) or a more scenic route? How many days? Do you want any stretches of dirt? Tell me what you want and I can tailor a very nice ride.
 

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I'm heading from Denver to Salt Lake City in July. Wondering about fun, beautiful alternatives to the interstates. Any suggestions? Thanks!


This one's FUN!
But takes a bit longer and uses a good bit of gravel.
Google maps didn't like it in one go, made 2 files out of it.


Denver-Gunnison https://goo.gl/maps/iziaw8Vjwgo

Maybe, with less time available, skip Gunnison and take rt. 135 through Chrested Butte and Kebler Pass/ Paonia/definitely Orchard City and the 65 up to Roller Dam.
Alternative here is the 123 and 121 around Reed and Baron Lakes. (Old GRans Mesa Rd.....mostly sealed from memory)


Gunnison- SLC (don't know my way via Meeker/ Massadona/Fort Duchesne)

https://goo.gl/maps/CBLb1gHrwfP2
 

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A fun route would be south to Montrose, ride the Million $$ highway to Durango, then west on Rt 66 to Flagstaff, north to the Grand Canyon, norther to the Utah's famous hwy 12, then follow what used to be the 6th most dangerous road in America, US 191/6 into SLC.

However if I were going to make that trip and only had a couple days (your criteria is vague) I would follow I-70 and make a few diversions;
1 - Mt Evans - 60 miles round trip from I-70 (exit 240). The highest paved road in north America. Incredible ride!
2 - Independence Pass, exit 195 follow 91 south to Twin Lakes, then 82 north back to the freeway exit 116 (about 130 miles)
3 - Doc Holliday's grave (exit 116) Glenwood Springs.
4 - Green River, Ut. Utah's 'melon' capital. There is a large water melon slice on a trailer usually parked along the main street. Also, the Golden Ratio sculpture is in Green River, you can see it from the road, but take the time to ride up to it...very interesting!
5 - Helper, Utah. For an excellent burger go to Groggs Brewery - Exit 191 on 1st north, left onto Main, left onto Carbonville road - you'll see Groggs on the left, get the mushroom burger and the house fries. (Tell the skinny brunette that Tombstone still has dreams about her...) Continue north on the same road until you see the biggest miner in the world statue at the library, he is standing out front.

There's a few ideas for you. Have fun!
 

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I lived in Hayden for 3 years before I moved to Lakewood a year ago.

US40 is a good bet for a nice scenic 'direct' route. You can use that as a baseline and stray from it depending how fast you want to go or see less-traveled country. 134 between Kremmling and Toponas is awesome. Hwy64 between Meeker and Dinosaur is fabulous and really fun even at the posted speed limit. 318 out of Maybell to Flaming Gorge is phenomenal but absolutely desolate - No gas or any services for 60-80 miles. I used to ride my dirt bike out there all the time. If you want to hit some dirt, there is Ripple Creek Pass between Yampa and Meeker, county rd 50 from Frasier to Parshall. County Rd 27 between Oak Creek and Hayden is paved and a great ride. I'd save Mt Evans for a day trip. Squaw pass road is fun on a bike!

If you haven't already discovered these maps, they can be helpful as far as pavement goes.

https://www.codot.gov/safety/live-to-ride/documents/2011-campaign-materials/4679_Map_Denver-NWCO.pdf

The rest are here: https://www.codot.gov/safety/live-to-ride/rider-resources.html
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wow, thanks everyone! I'm going to go over all these suggestions with a good map in hand. I guess I was pretty vague about my intention. I'm thinking of a fairly direct route from Denver to SLC, taking more time than absolute shortest route, but avoiding the interstate as much as I can. I don't foresee dirt riding along the way --- I think I'll be doing that once I get to the destination. I'm thinking of taking a day and a half to get there, something like that. An overnight somewhere along the way.
 

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This is the way I would go. 10.5hrs. You can cut an hour out by not going down to Meeker and Rangely. Sleep in Rangely or Vernal.

That's an awesome route, but I do have one suggestion: At Duchesne UT, take route 87 to 35 W back to 40. And watch for deer.
 
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