Destinations: Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the United States, runs
from Estes Park, Colo., through Granby, Colo., and is a unique and
Rising more than two miles above sea level, Colorado’s Trail Ridge
Road is motorcycling heaven. Located inside gorgeous Rocky Mountain
National Park a short 65 miles northwest of Denver, it’s the highest
continuous paved road in the country, soaring to an elevation of
12,183ft. This cliff-hugging highway is an engineering miracle, and the
54 beautiful, twisty miles it runs from Estes Park, Colo., to Grand
Lake, Colo., are unlike any you’ve ridden before. Slicing through the
heart of the park, the ride enters a world of rare alpine beauty and
offers unparalleled views. Believe it when we tell you, they don’t make
roads like this one anywhere outside of Colorado.
Come prepared for drastic changes in temperature, as it can be as
much as 30 F cooler at the top of the mountain than at the entry gate
to the park, and even in the middle of July that can mean a chilly
ride: snow is not uncommon. Though this might not sound appealing, the
cool can be a welcome relief from summer heat since the park is only
open from Memorial Day until Labor Day. And no matter the temperature
at the bottom, you can always see some snow fields at the top. If you
go on opening weekend, you may even ride past 10ft snow banks that
still line the sides of the road as reminders of why the route isn’t
Moose are a common sight when riding the western Granby side in the
spring, and large herds of elk can always be seen somewhere along the
way. In the hottest part of the summer, look for them closer to the
top, but beware, as cars routinely stop as occupants photograph the
herds and take in the spectacular views.
Estes Park marks the eastern gate, and while it’s a great place to
eat and gas up before entering the park, it can be an expensive place
to stay. On the other side of Trail Ridge Road past Grand Lake is
Granby. Though not a large town, it has gas stations and food, and is
much less of a tourist trap than Estes Park. — Mark Bolles
Estes Park — 65 miles northwest of Denver
Where: 54 miles of paved heaven between Estes Park, Colo., and Grand Lake, Colo.
Why: Great roads and even better views from the highest continuous paved road in the United States.
Best Kept Secret: Riding the road at night under a full moon in July or August. The entry
gates are unmanned after 7 p.m. due to overnight camping in Rocky
Mountain National Park.
Fees: $10.00 for a 7-day pass for motorcycles.
Scenic Routes: Look around. Do you see all those mountains? Pick one! Now go find a road that goes up it.
Avoid: Beware of elk crossing the road. They are especially hard to see at night, and, like deer, are unpredictable.
More Info: www.MotorcycleManiac.net, Colorado High Country Cruisers (www.cohcc.org)
Excerpted from the July/August 2006 issue of Motorcycle Classics. Subscribe today to read the full article and more!