Our trip was a 3300 mile journey to the mountains of Colorado, with a nice side trip through Utah to visit Arches and see the red rock country.
We all had a fantastic time!
The trip started as a wish from my son Michael to ride our motorcycles to and in the mountains of Colorado.
It took us 4 years to get the final plan together and set a date. Our final plan was #14, which is an indicator of how much time was spent planning and researching in the end, it was worth every minute spent, as the trip went off without a hitch, and everything fell into place.
We both have decent sized road bikes, quite comfortable for cross country touring.
My grandson's just couldn't resist the chance to ride grandpa's motorcycle one last time before we left;
They tried to give us a big smile but the sun was in their eyes...)
On our way the first day, we came across a mom and pop diner with an old VW out front. Since Mike is a master tech for VW, and interested in the older models, we had lunch there after getting a few pictures.
On the way across Missouri, we stopped for a lunch break in a very small town. They had a great little park, and a very friendly neighbor who stopped over to chat.
Our destination for day 2 was Minden Nebraska, home of the Pioneer museum.
We only had 5 hours to see it all, but we did pretty well!
Brandi thought the yacht was pretty cool!
After Minden, our next stop was Estes Park Colorado, gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Follow along and see some of the beautiful scenery we encountered on our 3300 mile, 15 day journey !
We stopped for some sightseeing at the top of the mountain, and returned to find that a clueless RV’r had blocked us in…
While we were busy discussing how to push the RV over the edge;
The owners got in and headed down the road…
There are so many photo opportunities out West!
Brandi must have figured we weren’t getting enough pictures, so she started doing selfies!
Turned out to be some of the best shots of the trip, along with the pictures of pictures!
It looks bright and sunny in the pictures, and it was…but it was also very windy and cold at the top of the mountains, just 30 some degrees…brrr, lots of bright red cheeks and noses!
Headed out of the park toward Kremmling Colorado to our “Old Time Out West” hotel.
As August is “Monsoon” season out west, scenes like this were repeated many times. We were lucky though, that we only got wet a few times.
Interior of our old west hotel;
Mike and Brandi checking out the dusty streets of the town.
These cows thought Michael’s motorcycle was pretty cool!
On our way from Kremmling to Fruita, we decided to take a chance on a remote gravel road. It turned out to be a great choice, as it followed the Colorado river, and the railroad tracks through some very pretty ranch country.
Looked like a great place to stop for a picnic lunch (which was no accident…) so we did!.
The umbrellas we brought came in quite handy!
This photo was for my riding buddy who decided at the last minute he couldn’t come along on the trip with us…
He really missed out…
After awhile, the road ended and we had to take the Interstate to make some time, but out West, even the interstates are nice riding, fast too, at 75mph!
We followed the Colorado River for many, many miles. We watched as it grew from a small stream to a raging red torrent in Utah.
Here in this picture we were stopped at a rest area along the Interstate when a trail came rumbling up the canyon.
After our stay in Fruita Colorado, we were off early the next morning, bound for Utah. Our destination was the Red Cliffs Lodge, situated on the Whites Rapids of the Colorado River, out in the Redrock canyon country many miles from Moab.
Those pesky clouds we about often, but it did help keep the temperatures pleasant.
We waited out a brief shower at a rest stop along the river.
We were stunned by the natural beauty of the setting for Red Cliffs Lodge!
The lodge occupies a former ranch with an interesting Hollywood connection. Many old westerns, commercials, and out west movies have been made here.
There is a museum in the lodge dedicated to them.
It is here I had a standoff with John Wayne.
We decided to call it a draw!
The river turned from clear, to muddy red from all the sand runoff.
All good days have to come to an end, and this day was no exception. It was the kid’s favorite of the trip, mine too!
I was disappointed in the overcast conditions as I had promised them that we would be riding into the red rock canyons with the morning sun lighting them in perfect glory.
The next day however, as we rode toward Arches National Park, everything fell together as planned!
We chose a 3 mile round trip hike to see Delicate arch.
Rob, in the arch.
The kids in the arch.
Probably a good thing it is so shaded, as Brandi’s “dance on the edge” was pretty dramatic…and scary!
Some of the local wildlife.
At the visitor center.
Arches was our favorite park!
From Arches, we traveled to Cortez Colorado to visit the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.
The scenery changed a bit, but was still much different than Illinois!
Here we are climbing down from the Mesa to see Cliff Palace.
After our tour we found a quiet place on the Mesa for our lunch stop.
We had a great time entertaining a squirrel with grapes and bread…or vice versa…
After lunch we took the loop road tour to see the cliff dwellings from another angle.
I had always believed that there were just a few of these places, but there are over 600 in the park alone!
Or stop that night was Durango Colorado.
We had a room reserved next to the railroad tracks which carries the world famous Durango to Silverton steam train.
We hadn’t planned to ride the train, but once we got there our minds were quickly made up!
The train runs 40 some miles up to Silverton and back, though very pretty country. We needed a break, and this was it!
We chose an open car for better views (and price).
Was pretty nice, but we were glad the first class cars had extra seats open that we could use to warm up now and then, and stay dry when it started to rain.
Near the end of the train ride, it started raining hard. We waited it out and had dinner.
Our stop for the night was Ouray Colorado, at the end of the Million dollar highway.
The town has a hot springs fed pool, which the kids enjoyed!.
The million Dollar highway, which we looked forward to riding, was hard to describe, as we were running late because of the rain. We did ride it, but in the rain, in the dark. Probably a good thing we couldn’t see how far down it was…
We backtracked the next day to see what we missed.
Hard to get good pictures when you’re riding, as there are very few safe pull offs, but generally, there are no guard rails, and a lot of steep drop offs.
We had lunch again along the road, then set off for Cimarron Colorado.
Our cabin was in Pleasant Valley just outside Cimarron. It was ancient and sparse, but comfortable and quiet.
The lady that ran the place really loved Hummingbirds, and had a lot of feeders all around the office; they were very entertaining!
Our next stop was Canon City Colorado, home of the Royal Gorge. On the way there, we passed gold mines, saw a lot more pretty country and crossed Monarch pass where we took the tram to the top of the mountain.
When we arrived at Canon City, we stopped to get the cameras ready for our tour of Skyline drive; spectacular!
The next morning we headed out to ride up through Phantom canyon to Victor. Phantom canyon is 22 miles of remote 1 lane gravel road, no homes, no gas stations, no guard rails. It was some of the wildest country we saw on the trip. The road is the former wagon trail, turned railroad bed, turned road again, that brought the gold ore from Victor and Cripple Creek to Canon city for processing in the late 1800’s.
We stopped for lunch along the creek and tried our hand at panning for gold, but no luck…
At the top of the mountain we came to Victor, then rode a few more miles to Cripple Creek, another big gold mining town.
We found an outdoor display of old mining equipment, and had to stop for pictures. We decided this was too good to pass up, and so tried for a repeat of the scene in the Indiana Jones movie that found the kids in the ore cars careening out of control!
Mike helping Brandi get back out.
This is an operational gold mine in Cripple creek, the scale is staggering!
Can you pick out the excavator and bulldozer?
Here is a blow up.
Our next tour was the Mollie Kathleen gold mine, where we descended a thousand feet to look at how mining used to be done. We walked a little, and rode a small train inside the mine that was powered by compressed air!.
After our mine tour, we rode on to Manitou Springs to our cabin. We chose this place as we had stayed here 20 some years ago. The same folks still owned it, and it was just as we remembered it.
Back then, we stayed in the cabin along the creek, where Mike played as an 8 year old.
We were to tour Pikes Peak the next morning, but our luck ran out as we woke to light rain and very overcast skies with low clouds…so we bid farewell to Colorado and headed home. I sure hope we can go back again some day!