The first hiking and viewing attraction we are heading for is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Ever since we passed the park entrance sign a couple of years ago on a ride I have been meaning to go back and check it out. Getting there will take us two days so after leaving Navajo Lake State Park, our destination for the day is Ridgway State Park in Colorado (~200 miles) where we stayed in 2012.
Now, that sounds like a reasonable distance to travel for the day but there’s a caveat. Namely, Diane’s challenge of ‘heights’. Looking off bridges, sheer and steep drops, pose a challenge for her. So why are we going north into Colorado – mountains to the left and right? Mostly to escape the heat of the lower elevations in Utah and Arizona where we also want to go – after things have cooled off a little by late August. Today would bring the first ‘pass’ of our trip – Lizard Head Pass on CO145 leading into Telluride, CO.
The ride through northern New Mexico and into Colorado led us through gently rolling hills of sage brush and later farm land until we got to Delores, CO when we joined up with CO145 which runs along a river into the mountains towards Telluride. As we climb in altitude we can see the mountains and the clear demarkation of the tree line. The air cools to the point where we have to close the air flow zippers on our jackets to keep warm. It’s a very scenic and not too dramatic ride though there are a couple of tight turns and drops. The drop offs though are not immediately to the the right or left of the lane but rather buffered by a large shoulder and often times extra space which makes them a lot more tolerable for Diane.
By the time we get to Telluride the worst is over as we start the final leg of the day, joining CO62 in Placerville into Ridgway, CO. We stop to pick up a six pack of beer 🙂 before heading to the campground and stop for the night at Ridgway State Park just up the road on US550. We lucked out and got the last available camping spot for the night. The campground is scenic, sitting on top of a plateau with great views around – perhaps that explains the rather stiff camping fee of $32 for the night ($18 to camp and $7 per motorcycle to enter the park). Still cheaper than a hotel (not to mention nicer) but it does seem a little steep for some dirt to pitch a tent ;-). At least they provide wheelbarrows to cart your gear from the parking lot to your campsite.
By its nature, camping lends itself to meet your neighbors. While we were setting up camp, one of our neighbors walked by all ‘suited up’ in protective motorcycle gear greeting us and asking if those were our bikes in the parking lot. We started chatting and later joined him, Joe, at his campfire for more stories and beers. Turns out Joe rode up from Orlando, FL (!) to ride the famed passes of Colorado for the week before picking up his wife at the Denver airport and heading out to Estes Park for more camping and riding. Nice and easy going guy. We really enjoyed talking with him. We failed to get a picture with him.