Rocky Mountain High

From Torrey, we took the very isolated and lonely – but beautiful route to Blanding.

Three trips ago, we had ridden through Capitol Reef intending to get to Hanksville and then to I-70, 24 miles to the north. Somehow, we took a wrong turn and ended up (not having filled up with fuel, thinking we would fill up on the interstate) taking scenic Byway 95.

It runs 138 miles  west from the junction of Hanksville to Blanding – but you have to add the miles traveled through Capitol Reef NP  itself, bringing the total miles to 178; that is the furthest we have ever pushed the fuel and was one of the worst possible places to do so!

Last time, with 178 miles on the odo, the final 20 or so miles were rather nerve-wracking, watching the low-fuel light glare at us. So this time, we made sure we got it right – but on return, could actually understand how we went wrong; the junction was very confusing.

Now, as time is running short, I’m going to post some photos with explanations where possible – otherwise I’ll run out of time 🙂

Coming out the other side of Capitol Reef NP and the rocks change from red to grey
Filling up in Hanksville

We took a slight detour to visit Goblin State Park – a fun place full of jolly little rock formations, turned around, back to Hanksville and filled the tank again before setting off on ‘a big one’.

Back on track, it is difficult not to keep stopping on HW95 – it really is a beautiful ride

Hite Crossing on The Dirty Devil River - you can just see the bridge across the confluence of the DDR and the Colorado River

Bridge Over The Colorado River

A few miles further on, we came to the sign for Natural Bridges National Monument. We uhm’d and ah’d about going in – it was about 12 miles down a side road) and decided it would be a shame to miss it. There are 3 bridges – weather-worn rocks that eventually form a bridge. Here’s one of them, taken after an easy walk down – and a bloody puffy one back up.

We spent the night in Blanding – a shabby-looking motel that turned out to be spotless.

Early next day, we left Utah and entered…

We rode past Mesa Verde – rain was imminent once again – through Durango and to the next town, Pagosa Springs in Colorado – another great little town.

Although we had stayed here overnight on two previous trips, it was only on our 3 day stay here this time that I realised the town was called Pagosa Springs – because it actually had hot springs…… duh! And it was great to see just how much fun there was to be found around the Springs and on the San Juan river

Couldn't resist this
There were lots of hollyhocks growing wild

The water bubbling from the springs is almost too hot to touch

We had a great afternoon in town before cleaning the bike thoroughly and then going out to eat something other than burgers; this was a delicious salmon dish

BUT the beer J chose was not so good – in fact, it was so awful, we poured it onto the grass. It tasted of molasses and treacle and was very nearly chewable.

A couple of days later we made an early start to cross the beautiful Rockies.

First stop, a few miles down the road, was Treasure Falls where I walked up to watch people panning for gold

Panning for gold with dad

We rode through a small town called Creed where, it seems, one resident was not a happy chappy

Making a statement about local politics

We spent that night in Lake City – which really isn’t a city, but a small village. It is deep in a valley of the Rockies and as the day faded, the clouds and mist closed in, spoiling any photography ops.

All was forgiven the following morning as we began the steep climb to over 11,000 feet. At the point of the Continental Divide ( where all water on one side runs towards the Atlantic ocean while the water on the other side runs to the Pacific) I took a ride to over 12,000 feet. Stunning view over so many peaks. The climb began very gently and there were a couple of place to stop for a drink. At one, we were amazed at the number of humming birds drinking from the feeders – lots of colours, but fast buggers, difficult to capture.

One of the biggest problems in for bikers is the wildlife. This is even more of a problem on curvy roads curtained by trees. Watch the video carefully – on the right is a deer which, fortunately, seemed frozen to the spot.

At The Summit
Room With A View
At the top - 12,012 feet

As we began to climb down to the flat east side of Colorado, the weather, once again closed in and we took a break in a gas station while some rain passed over.

We crossed the state line into Kansas and in Garden City and found a motel – waking to four big bugs on the bathroom floor the following morning, which meant going through all our gear and shaking it well before loading up.

First stop was at Old Bent Fort – and very interesting that was too; it was also a great place for photography – lots of lines and shadows. I’m running out of time now, so will put some photos on from there another day.

The endless plains of Kansas and Missouri face us now, although, tomorrow we’re heading to a small town called Marquette, 80 miles away, before finding somewhere to stay near the Tallgrass National Preservation area a little over halfway across Kansas.

Our 4-day rest is about over – so, tomorrow it will be goodby to La Crosse, famous as…..

It must be true - it says it on the police cars!


4 Replies to “Rocky Mountain High”

    1. That area is incredibly beautiful – it’s a shame to ride through it in one day – but there is absolutely nowhere to camp or buy a drink, so not feasible on an overloaded bike – can’t carry spare water. I’d love to camp though; see the colours at dawn and dusk.
      Don’t be jealous! Nearly passed out with the heat today. More than 120 F (50 C). I’m used to the heat – we do live in the Canary Islands – but this is something else! The riding gear and armor doesn’t help; we’ve really got to get the AC sorted on the bike….. 😉
      Now you can tell me I’m getting too old for this lark – and I might just agree today:D


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