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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Suggest to me a route through Colorado (Updated with report)

Doing a last minute cannonball run to Colorado and back leaving Friday. Will be going direct from Toronto to somewhere in the north end of Colorado, 2-3 days from north Colorado to Albuquerque, then directish back home.

Would appreciate any suggestions on must ride roads or routes.
 

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US 550, from Montrose to Durango in Colorado, is my favorite ride in the country. As long as you don't mind sheer cliffs and no guard rails, it is not to be missed.

 

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US 50 over Monarch Pass east of Gunnison was a really nice ride. It snowed on the pass in mid June, so you do have to take some weird weather into consideration.

Edit: I went back to my files and dug up a couple photos from my ride through Colorado on US 50. This is from 2009, after I crossed over Monarch Pass. Snowing up top, and about 80 degrees where those were taken. The photos don't do it justice.



 

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Not sure about how much time you have for each portion of your trip, but here are google map routes for Colorado.
Lots of roads in CO. You can't hardly go wrong however you go.

https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/40.6655946,-105.2021193/40.46874,-106.8258309/39.7119233,-106.6855327/39.2679741,-106.2965067/39.3499363,-107.0155989/38.4417197,-107.3437083/37.7291199,-106.7165825/37.2447572,-107.8714067/38.1336461,-107.7321423/38.6640003,-108.9666347/@37.9932711,-110.9836786,6.78z/data=!4m22!4m21!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-106.4071043!2d40.5847775!3s0x8769d09a996e8593:0x1617d702bd5a3cbe!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-107.0474895!2d40.3545486!3s0x87424705fda20045:0xa55ee777793b37aa!1m0!1m0!1m0!1m0!1m0!1m0!1m0!1m0!3e0?hl=en

https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Gateway,+CO+81522,+USA/38.7625507,-108.132408/39.0405533,-107.9876312/39.2934143,-108.205367/40.0299472,-108.7778372/40.4982927,-106.9288143/@40.5058439,-106.0760017,7.25z/data=!4m28!4m27!1m5!1m1!1s0x874774fd2158ab33:0x300b457ec88a14bf!2m2!1d-108.9768837!2d38.6806958!1m10!3m4!1m2!1d-107.99323!2d39.0075247!3s0x8740cc43ae5b2833:0x24397a90d0909342!3m4!1m2!1d-108.2855841!2d38.8117287!3s0x874747aabb6f0e49:0x774840a6b8e9bc81!1m0!1m0!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-107.8466328!2d40.12407!3s0x8743ee196ca13159:0x2dae5f4a5cbde470!1m0!3e0?hl=en

I have ridden all the roads I highlighted. They are all paved. If you are venturesome, and have the time, there are some connectors along the way that are gravel but good as well. You could ride the whole circle in 3 (long) days. 4 would allow you to take more time to enjoy the sights.

I am sure that some locals will chime in with better ideas.
Enjoy your ride.
 

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Lots of roads in CO. You can't hardly go wrong however you go.
Enjoy your ride.
So true. Great riding there. One tip that was shared to me and I'll pass it along...
Avoid the roads that go up to the more famous peaks. New England has "Leaf Peepers", Colorado has "Peakers". A lot of the visitors in the summer want to go to the popular peaks and I swear they all drive motor homes. There are lots of less popular peaks that are equally gorgeous and with nearly no traffic. Including the areas along the way to/from Telluride. Have fun _ post some photos for us.
 

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I agree with the Million Dollar Hwy and Hwy 50 above. 550 is almost a must see ride.

For the sake of offering another place, I'll offer up Hwy 34, or Trail Ridge Rd which goes through Rocky Mtn Ntl Park. Be careful of the weather! I was there last year mid-June with a buddy. The temps in the lower park were in the 70's. By the time we got to the top we were in thunder snow, with slush covering the road. Luckily the gagers were taking it easy and we just stayed in the tracks of the vehicles in front of us. Crazy ride...wouldn't trade it for the world! Here is a pic (June 13th, 2016) of Milner Pass on the west side of the park, or just outside the park, from that trip. We crossed higher passes with less snow...go figure.

Enjoy your ride!
 

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I should have mentioned that if you come across it or a local mentions it take a few minutes to do Skyline. It runs next to Rt 50 near Canon City.
I think I just pooped myself
 

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US 50 over Monarch Pass east of Gunnison was a really nice ride. It snowed on the pass in mid June, so you do have to take some weird weather into consideration.
That is my favorite road in Colorado - I first ran it in a Datsun SRL-311 1978. Poor thing was wheezing and I was passing people at 20 mph. The views are spectacular. Between Monarch Pass and Grand Junction there was a stretch of pasture that had grass almost a blue color. Later ran it in my Kawa Z1 and it was by far a better experience on a bike.
Yep - do it.
 

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That is my favorite road in Colorado - I first ran it in a Datsun SRL-311 1978. Poor thing was wheezing and I was passing people at 20 mph. The views are spectacular. Between Monarch Pass and Grand Junction there was a stretch of pasture that had grass almost a blue color. Later ran it in my Kawa Z1 and it was by far a better experience on a bike.
Yep - do it.
I was gobsmacked when I crossed over Monarch Pass....I'd never seen anything as beautiful as the mountains in Colorado. I kick myself now for not stopping at the summit and taking it all in, but I had lost my leather jacket somewhere in Arkansas when it fell off the Harley, and all I had to wear as an outer garment was a leather shirt I'd picked up in Borger, TX. At the point I was going over the pass I was soaked from the snow, and I literally felt like I was going to freeze to death. My non-fuel injected Road King sounded like it had emphysema (11,000 feet will do that LOL), and a couple times I thought it was going to conk out on me. I envisioned I was going to be stranded on top the mountain, and end up doing my own impression of George Mallory. Needless to say, I was a total newbie at cross country riding at that point, and not really prepared for everything the road would throw at me. And I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything.

Gotta find some mates and do that ride one more time.
 

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I live in Colorado and have crossed the state at least a few times. A few recommendations:

- 34 is purely a looky-loo road and almost always has infuriating traffic, frequent turn-offs, and general irritation. If you're more patient than me, the views are beautiful. Marginally better on a weekday than a weekend. CO 14 to the north might be a decent alternative, but I've never ridden it.
- 550, as suggested by others, is an absolute bucket-list road. Coming from Toronto to ABQ, it is also out of your way. I find it a lot more terrifying in a car than on a bike, because I can't see the edge of the road. Also, I think that if you're going south, you'll be on the cliff-face side instead of the sheer drop.
- 50 is an efficient way across the state. I think that 160 is better, though, but then you'll miss a lovely portion of 550.

If you have a couple days, drop into the state down US 85, 34 west through the park, 40 west to US 9 south to 50 west, then 550 south to ABQ.

Much faster would be to take 9 to 285 in Fairplay. 285 is a beautiful road in its own right with lots of open mountain valleys and great in NM too. Or, if you really want to be efficient, slab the first 2 hours on I-25 and take 285 starting in Morrison.
 

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Any thing west of I-25 is good. One cannot go wrong with any route across Colorado. Even I-70 is a beautiful route.. Let your front tire set the adventure for you. One piece of advice... Trail Ridge, Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans, Do these early in the morning. Be headed down between 12 and 1 PM as the weather usually comes in early afternoon. One does not want to be caught in a lighting storm up at the top. Also the tourists are up and about and headed up around 9 to 10 am. One does not not want to get caught behind a bunch of Looky Loos. I try and get up to those places at least once a year just because I can. Good luck, Please enjoy the ride and be safe.
 

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I highly recommend Independence Pass, 82 between Aspen and US 24. To me, it's better and longer than 50 over Monarch Pass (which IS spectacular too). Traffic moves at a relaxed pace, twisties the whole route, and there isn't a dull scene the whole way. You'll cross the continental divide, see some spectacular mountain lakes and streams (stop at the grottos for sure), and see some of the highest peaks in the state. At US 24 you can go north or south and neither will disappoint. Going south will take you down to Hwy 50 where you can do Monarch Pass. Salida and Aspen are great places to overnight.
 

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Any thing west of I-25 is good. One cannot go wrong with any route across Colorado. Even I-70 is a beautiful route.. Let your front tire set the adventure for you. One piece of advice... Trail Ridge, Pikes Peak and Mt. Evans, Do these early in the morning. Be headed down between 12 and 1 PM as the weather usually comes in early afternoon. One does not want to be caught in a lighting storm up at the top. Also the tourists are up and about and headed up around 9 to 10 am. One does not not want to get caught behind a bunch of Looky Loos. I try and get up to those places at least once a year just because I can. Good luck, Please enjoy the ride and be safe.
Those photos are beautiful. The first two actually look like you hired an artist to do an oil painting of your bike!
 

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A pass that may be considered a poor cousin to all the big name passes in CO is McLure pass. It is on 133 west of Carbondale. Traffic is usually lighter and there are several miles of great sweepers. Scenery is pretty good as well.

141 from Gateway to Naturita is a nice ride as well through the canyon.

Really hard to pick a favorite. In fact , impossible. There are so many great roads with such a diversity of terrain and scenery. So much depends on traffic and weather.
 

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If you are going to be staying in motels you better try to secure reservations before you leave. I am heading to Western Slope Colorado on the 10th of August and changed my route because many/most of the motels have no vacancy.
 

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Here are a couple more pictures !st one coming down Mt Evans. Second picture coming down from Trail Ridge in RMNP and the third picture is coming down Independence Pass from Aspen.





 

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Discussion Starter #20
So this is what I've come up with. I figure, I'll probably have approximately 2.5 days to go north to south so I'm not going to have too much time to explore every amazing road, it'll be a balance of making ground and seeing Colorado beauty. I don't know where I'll be each day so I'll have to wing accommodations, I'm bringing my camping setup so that will be an option. The route is subject to change depending on weather and timing

I'm not fixed on this route so any suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

I left out Skyline Drive mentioned above as it would be too much of a detour. Would love to do it if it becomes an option.

- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Mount Evans Road
- Independance Pass
- Monarch Pass
- Million Dollar Highway
- Some roads I found through northern New Mexico

https://goo.gl/maps/tNQ7uYgpCEw
 
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