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Thread: North Georgia to Estes Park Colorado Advice

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    North Georgia to Estes Park Colorado Advice

    Planning a trip to Colorado first week of June and have a couple of questions. We have never been out west before and are concerned that this time of year may not be optimal due to weather. What should we expect in some of the higher passes? Would another time of year be a better choice? Another question is if there is a route out there from Georgia other then hitting the superslab for 3 solid days. We will both be riding 1200RT's so backroads are not a concern. Is there a good secondary route that we can make good time on and avoid the major highways or should we just suck it up and hit the highways? Thanks in advance for the advice.

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    It is what it is. Bud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rderflin View Post
    Planning a trip to Colorado first week of June and have a couple of questions. We have never been out west before and are concerned that this time of year may not be optimal due to weather. What should we expect in some of the higher passes? Would another time of year be a better choice? Another question is if there is a route out there from Georgia other then hitting the superslab for 3 solid days. We will both be riding 1200RT's so backroads are not a concern. Is there a good secondary route that we can make good time on and avoid the major highways or should we just suck it up and hit the highways? Thanks in advance for the advice.
    Snow is a real possibility that early in the year. You can check HERE to see if Trail Ridge Road is open.

    Their current statement is: Trail Ridge Road will reopen on May 28, 2010, weather permitting.

    If time is an issue, the slab is the way to make miles. IL, MO, KS have some pretty parts but not many are on the way to Colorado.
    I used to post here, but now I don't.

  3. #3
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    Ride the interstates north to either US 2 or get into Canada and travel their cross country rural route (number escapes me). Bad weather is a possibility any time and anywhere in the high country.

    If you really want to try to get north on local routes you need to decide how much time and effort you want to spend going through a lot of city traffic. I have never found a route that I like.

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    North Georgia to Estes Park Colorado Advice

    I've been traveling between west Tennessee and Colorado for years. As I sit today in Washington DC in the middle of this big snowstorm, thinking about those trips is giving me a real nice break from the snow!!

    Here are some thoughts. Not necessarily the fastest, but will get you into some pretty scenery and nice backroads without a lot of traffic!

    Can't help you much on the east side of Memphis, but from Memphis, head northwest to Jonesboro, AR then to Hardy, AR, on up to Thayer and West Plains, MO. You'll be in the Ozark Mountains (Mark Twain Nat'l Forest) for some nice scenery and great twisties. Head on to Springfield, MO, or stay on Hwy 160 over to Branson, MO if you want to give "little Nashville" a try.

    Head over to Wichita, KS and then hit Hwy 50 west from Wichita for Dodge City and Garden City, KS. Some folks say Kansas is boring.....I disagree. Wide open plains, this, like Montana, is Big Sky Country! Miles of open farms and prairies, rolling and rising toward the Rockies. Not at all flat and boring. As you cross through Kansas, lots of counties have little museums, they're great to stop and stretch your legs and bathroom breaks, not to mention the museums are interesting....windmills and sod houses showcase pioneer living, etc.

    Now for Colorado, which is now my home state!!

    I live in southern Colorado, and don't spend much time "up north"....north of Denver. Estes Park (Rocky Mtn. Nat'l Park) is the #1 Colorado summer tourist destination. You'll have to see it, but it's crowded, crowded, crowded. Don't spend much time there, get out and see the rest of the state on the backroads.

    So, here are my suggestion to see some of the best of Colorado! From Garden City, KS, stay on Hwy 50 to La Junta, CO. (stop at Bent's Fort to learn about some of the history of the early settlement of the West, and the Santa Fe trail). Head southwest on Hwy 350 to Trinidad (Black Jack's Steakhouse on Main St is a "must", as is Purgatorie River Trading Company for the absolute best of price and quality of silver/turquoise jewelry). Both are on Main St. in Trinidad. From Trinidad, take Hwy 12 west & north (The Scenic Highway of Legends). You're now in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rockies...you'll see your first snowcapped peaks just northwest of Trinidad. These are also the southern-most 14'ers (mountain peaks over 14,000 ft elevation)!!! You'll be fine crossing any mountain passes in June in this part of the State.

    Make the Hwy 12 loop up to Walsenburg. This is absolutely a beautiful drive up Hwy 12. Stop at the Dog Bar in Cuchara for lunch, or on into La Veta for the night. This little town of 800 is wonderful, an undiscovered treasure of Colorado.
    Head on to Walsenburg, then pick up Hwy 69 northwest up to Salida. Wonderful scenery and twisties on this 2 lane highway, very light traffic, too.
    At Salida you're back on Hwy 50, then head west....over Monarch Pass, on to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, over to Montrose. South out of Montrose to Ouray, then up over the top of the Million Dollar Highway (named so because the highway base was made from old gold mine tailings, and the view is a million-dollar view!!), to Silverton, down the mountain (parallel the old steam railway), to Durango.

    From Durango, head east on Hwy 160, over Wolf Creek Pass, to the awesome San Luis Valley. At Ft. Garland (stop at the fort, then south to the oldest town in Colorado, San Luis) cross into New Mexico, south on Hwy 159, down the "back road" to Taos NM. You'll love it! From Taos, take the old highway, called the "high road" down to Santa Fe for some real southwest beauty!! (Santa Fe was a thriving city when the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock).

    Hit I-40 to start back east. Traffic's pretty light across the Texas panhandle, picks up when you get close to Oklahoma City.

    Oh, you're going to have a blast!!! Beware, though, when you get back home to Georgia, you'll be tempted to put the house up for sale and move West!!!

    Vaya con Dios!
    piperjim
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    jdubeemer jdubick's Avatar
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    When you get past Tennessee and Arkansas it gets pretty boring. I have done it numerous times, interstate and US highways and the heat and high winds across the plains wear me out. But the best thing is, once you get there it is worth the effort. My wife and I spent two weeks riding southern Colorado last summer and then came home for the National Rally in Johnson City. Take piperjim's advice about the southern tour, you will not be dissapointed. One route he did not mention that I really liked was out of Durango and over Wolf Creek pass then up through Creede and then up to Gunnison. You go over Slumgullian pass at about 1200 feet. Just awsome.
    Jim Dubick
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    One quick item, just be aware of "altitude sickness". You can learn all you need to know by googling the term. It's a relatively common problem for some visitors to the mountains, and one's current physical shape evidently has no bearing on whether or not one is affected.

    A friend of ours hosted a wedding one weekend at her home (about 9,000 ft elevation) and she ordered some oxygen bottles for those guests that might need it. The oxygen was more popular than the champagne!!

    Best wishes for a wonderful trip to Colorado!
    Piperjim

    '95 R1100RS
    '61 John Deere 3010 LP

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    Thanks for the Info!

    Just wanted to thank everyone for their help!

    Thanks to all of you I now have a great route planned.

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    X-Troller hexst's Avatar
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    I would stay away from I40 between Memphis and OKC terrible road too many trucks. I've been doing a couple of times a year for the last three years and really hate it.
    Knick
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    Registered User Antman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HexST View Post
    I would stay away from I40 between Memphis and OKC terrible road too many trucks. I've been doing a couple of times a year for the last three years and really hate it.
    I second that. I use US82 from Tifton Ga. untill it runs into US287, than on to Amarillo.
    The pavement in OK City is the worst. Montgomery, Al. is not too pleasent if it is hot out so, this next time I will try US45 North From Mobile, Al to US82.

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    Looks like most of the great rides are south of Estes Park where we were planning on staying. Are there any recommendations for other locations to stage out of for day trips? Looking for areas that have hotels and good food/drink within walking distance. Thanks again for all of the help.

  11. #11
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    Fwiw

    Here is the text from an article I wrote for the BMW ON and Web site (no longer present on site.... ).

    Say yes to art
    Ok, this option is bizarre and should really be considered only by riders with more than 2-3 days to get to the rally. This fine route makes the best of the straight roads across Kansas while mixing in some nice twisties through Missouri. With a bit of the bohemian thrown in for texture.

    Depending on where you live in the southeast, the first objective is Poplar Bluff, MO. The ever-pleasant I-75N, I-24W will get you to nearby Paducah. I-20W, US78 and I40 will get you through Memphis. The idea is to pick up US160 and ride west across the extreme southern part of Missouri. Nice twisties and country road continue across US65 near Branson (great stopping point if you like that kind of thing), and look for MO248 west to Reeds Springs, then south through town and west on MO76. Verrrry nice ride across the headwaters of Table Rock Lake and through the Mark Twain National Forest. There is excellent camping down by the lake here.

    If you need to reduce time, and still want to get to Mullinville, consider taking I-40 west into Arkansas and heading north to the Mark Twain Forest area via AR7/AR16 or AR23. Both ways feature lots of time wearing out the sides of your tires.

    From the Mark Twain Forest area, find your way along numerous route options to the OK/MO/KS state line intersection southwest of Joplin… take I-44W just a bit, then US166W from Baxter Springs, OK. At US59, go north to re-unite with US160W in Oswego, KS. US160 is a classic highway, and there are more than a few things to see other than long flat prairies, like Santa Fe Trail crossings. But make no mistake… there are plenty of prairies.

    Your next destination is Mullinville, KS, home of the M.T. Liggett outdoor museum of sculpture and scathing political commentary. Pretty suitable for an election year, eh? The picture in the magazine is tame, but there is plenty of sentiment for Democrats and Republicans alike… all just standing in the field waiting for you to peruse. For free. You’ll find the artwork just southeast of Dodge City. In Coldwater, take US183N to US54W and the right fork on US400. The museum is on the west end of Mullinville on the right. Someday I am going to go in and meet the artist.

    Dodge City is pretty touristy, but since you’re within smellin’ distance of the feedlots, you can get a really great steak. This is another good spot to spend the night, especially if if you’re motelling it. Here, US400 joins US50 and heads west to Pueblo, CO, where I-25N points you toward Gillette, following the eastern slope of the Rockies. In all, 1975 miles and a heapload of culture.



    A sampling of the fine art you will see along the way.

    =======================

    ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    ________________________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '00 1150 GS || '06 HP2e

  12. #12
    GMR 2010 Rally Chair blakduc1's Avatar
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    Colorado

    You gotta see the Cache De Peuter River Canyon and De Lores River Canyon in Colorado. And a lot of the great high passes like Independence and Wolf Creek.
    Leadville is a cool town as is Glenwood Springs. So much to see and ride in Colorado! I can post more suggestions later. I was out there last summer and had a blast!

    Consider this route from GA: Go up through Nashville , to NW corner of Tenn, edge of KY and go through Land Between the Lakes on the way, then up to Missouri, through St Louis, across Kansas and western Colorado. Nice clean run out I-70 that way.

    Otherwise, you might want to go out I-40 and work your way up through the endless No Man's Land of the OK panhandle (some rough roads, Man) or either out through the NW part of texas and up by Capulin Mt (volcanics) and into Col from the south.

    Cool stuff to see either way.

    dp

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rderflin View Post
    Looks like most of the great rides are south of Estes Park where we were planning on staying. Are there any recommendations for other locations to stage out of for day trips? Looking for areas that have hotels and good food/drink within walking distance. Thanks again for all of the help.
    rderflin, Late to the thread here. Been busy putting the finishing touches on a motorcycling Colorado book. A comprehesive and exhaustive thing. Will be in the publisher's hands next month and at Amazon, dealers, etc. this autumn. Anyway, good advice in the thread here. Early June is an excellent time to ride Colorado.

    Estes Park is one of the better base camps in the state with RMNP, the canyons, etc. nearby. To be sure there are some great rides to the north like the Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway, and the Snowy Range of southern Wyoming.

    Other base camp ideas further south would be Gunnison or Durango. Gunnison is at ground zero for some of the best rides in the state. Durango is at the doorstep of the famed San Juan Range, as well as nearby Mesa Verde National Park and rides in the close by Pagosa Springs area.

    An idea could be stay at Estes Park for a few days, then ride to Gunnison or Durango for the next few days.

    As for making it to Colorado, for sure, ride the lonely two laned highways through small towns to get here and return. The U.S. 160 suggestion above is a good one. From the Mississippi River west, ride 160 through southern Missouri, southern Kansas, and then southern Colorado even all the way to Durango. It's excellent. On the return make it to the panhandle of Oklahoma connecting with U.S. 412. Follow it all the way to Dyersburg, Tennessee. From eastern Oklahoma, all the way across the Ozarks of northern Arkansas, it is also top shelf.

    Here's a few images from the book of riding in the Este Park area...





  14. #14
    NJN EAR njnear's Avatar
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    KY Parkways & US 160

    If you want to cut through the center of the country, getting on the Kentucky Parkways is a great way to go. They have the look and smell of interstates without the extreme heavy traffic.

    Then up to US 160 through southern Missouri (as stated in an earlier post). It won't be quick, but it will be scenic and twisty.

    I personally would take two lanes through southern Kansas and try to avoid the slab and big cities. Once you get about halfway through Kansas it will be like slab without the traffic.
    '09 K 1300 GT

  15. #15
    JAMESDUNN
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    I am from Colorado. The mountain passes will be fine in early June. Though there is the occasional summer snow storm at high altitude it will melt quickly if there is any accumulation which is unlikely. Early mornings will be chilly so go prepared which I am sure you will.
    JD

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