US40 and the National Park



I wasn’t exactly sure where to go on day two. I had heard from some locals that the ride up to Mount Evans wasn’t actually all that interesting. Mount Evans I believe was the highest paved road in the United States. The few people I talk to just said that the ride wasn’t actually that great. I knew I didn’t want to go to East because that’s all flat land. Going north or south just rides along the edges of the mountains. So at some level I knew I had to go west.

I had been to Rocky Mountain National Park two times before so it first I was thinking to avoid it. At some level of national parks although they’re quite different somehow sometimes feel the same. Having no better concrete plan the national park was the roundabout destination for today.

I remember seeing a really nice skyline view coming into town yesterday on Highway 6. Right as you leave Golden the road climbs a small hill and you can see the Denver skyline out in the distance. I sent out Highway 93 down the West side of Denver to see if I could capture the same photo again. While it was beautiful last night, quite a bit of haze set in for today. The picture here just doesn’t do it justice.

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Interstate 70 is the quickest way into the mountains. US 40 looked to be the best squiggly line through green area on the map. Right after the junction with Interstate 70 it starts climbing into the hills. Very quickly you’re able to see some altitude.

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US 40 crosses the Continental divide at Berthound Pass.

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Also here is the Continental Divide Trail. After spending a few days here, I can appreciate the difficulty of hiking the trail. California is home to the Pacific Crest Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail which while difficult themselves, they don’t have the element of altitude.

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The climb up the pass was so steep I didn’t notice how quickly I was running out of gas. The bike that seem to have an endless supply of fuel was now in big trouble. I went from two bars on the fuel gauge climbing to the second reserve descending.

The road again felt much like US 50 with its on and off thoroughfare feel. It was a beauty snaking through the mountains.

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Upon arriving in Winter Park I found it strange that the town didn’t seem to have a gas station. I crossed my fingers and kept on driving that there was something further down the road to fill my tank. It turned out that the ski resort was distinctly separate from the town. The tank however did take nearly 5.3 gallons of fuel. If I remember correctly the bike takes 5.5 gallons.

I didn’t really know where to get lunch and Yelp seemed to suggest that Rudi’s deli was the place to go. The Yelp reviews raved about the pasta salad. I really wanted some chili as it was quite chilly that day but alas they were out. So meatball sandwich and the pasta salad had to do. It’s amazing what the iPhone actually does. Without it I did driven down the street and found the place with the most cars. Now I can be in a foreign land and access local knowledge at the tip of my fingers. I know I work in the field but it’s still just cool.

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Rudi’s Deli (C is average. No grade inflation here):

SeatingCI arrived at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon.  The restaurant was completely full inside, but plenty of seating outside.  The weather was even nice.
AtmosphereCFunctional and comfortable, but not anything special.  The inside is tight for bikers who have a lot of gear.
Wait StaffBThe team was super cool.  No complaints here.
FoodB-The basta salad seemed average to me.  The meatball sub was a bit heavy on the bread, but the meat and sauce were good.
ValueCPrice was fair for the amount of food you got given the location.
OverallC+I’d go back if I was in a hurry, but I’d search out to see if I could do better than average.

Leaving Winter Park the next destination was Lake Granby. Lake Granby sits at the backside of the national park. There’s a small town that surrounds it with a number of swanky resorts. One of them advertised great photos of the lake. I took them up on their offer. I’d say there are halfway right. 🙂

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I arrived in the national market at about 2:45 PM traffic was surprisingly light as compared to Yosemite. The closeness of the Rockies was breathtaking.

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One of the other things about Colorado I was finding out is sometimes a paved road would take you to beauty but often times it would be a dirt road.

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The first major stop was Fairview curve. This view was much better than fair!

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The curves were also way better than fair!

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One of the crown jewels in the Park is Trail Ridge Road. It climbs to well over 12,000 feet in a truly alpine setting.

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At this altitude trees are not to be found

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Colorado didn’t seem to have as many clear, alpine lakes as California does. Looking way off into the distance there appeared to be one way out of reach!

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The only way it was able to get to it was with the zoom on my camera.

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Surprisingly, while scenic Rocky Mountain national Park doesn’t have the highest bathroom accessible by paved road. Independence pass still holds that honor! It was only a 5 foot difference!

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The next major stop was Rainbow Curve. The amazing views just kept on going! Off to the lower right of the photo you can see the road snake down the hill.

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By the time I got to Horseshoe Park the weather caught up with me. I come to later find out that rain is a common occurrence in the Colorado mountains in the summer. That agrees with my experience as every time I’ve been the Colorado I’ve been rained on.

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Old Trail Ridge Road was a dirt road that a friend of mine told me I must ride. I didn’t know much about it other than seeing it as I was exiting the park. This was one of those times you wish you had a buddy. With the weather on my tail didn’t think it was the best idea to go back into the mountains on a dirt road, with the bike I didn’t know, alone. I leaned on the side of caution that this was an adventure I wanted to earmark for my next trip out.

There is a photo a friend of mine showed me of the lake with three distinct mountains in the background that looked amazingly beautiful. I asked a number of park employees where this photo might be in the best answer I got was Lily Lake. The funny thing was they said it was outside of the park. I hopped on my bike and follow their directions and arrived at the lake.

This wasn’t the view I was expecting. I learned to find out that the view I was looking for was in Aspen. Had I only gone the long way home rather than the short way. Alas, every adventure can be had on one trip

There were a number of guys fly fishing on the lake in with the evening light it was a picturesque scene.

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Even the ducks were having a good time! There was one bridge on the hiking trail around the Lake that caught my attention.

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The ride back in to Nederland was great. The plan was to get dinner and Backcountry Pizza and then head down to Boulder for the night. Once I got to Backcountry Pizza the oh shit set in. I didn’t have my wallet. I started frantically thinking about where I could’ve left it. It turns out it was at the gift shop at Rocky Mount National Park. Getting the phone number actually proved a bit more difficult than I had thought. But alas, they had it and would hold it for me for tomorrow’s adventure. I was lucky that I had enough gas to get home and enough glucose tablets to feel reasonably fed.


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