Can you keep a secret? Promise? Okay. I’m going to share with you my favorite motorcycle day trip. From start to finish, it’s approximately 200 miles long. Depending upon how many times you want/need to stop and take in the sights; it can take from several hours to all day. Most of the route follows a well maintained two lane highway. So, you can also do the trip in your car.
Our adventure begins in Grand Lake on Highway 34. We follow Hwy 34 through spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park and over awe inspiring Trail Ridge Road into Estes Park. (You should plan on a few stops going over Trail Ridge.) Estes is a great area to stop and take a break. Its home to many fine restaurants and shops. It’s also home to the Stanley Hotel, site of Stephen King’s famous movie “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson. Note: you can follow either Hwy 34 or Hwy 36 into Estes. They become the same road in town and will get you to where you need to be – the intersection of Hwy 7.
Turn right (south) onto Highway 7. Stay on it until you reach Hwy 72, approximately 7 miles past Allenspark. Turn right (south) onto Hwy 72, the start of the famous ‘Peak to Peak Highway’. Established in 1918 it is Colorado’s oldest scenic byway. Its 55 mile route provides fantastic views of the Rocky Mountains and the continental divide. It also is the closest vehicle approach to the popular trailhead for the summit of Longs Peak; one of Colorado’s famous 14-thousand mountain tops. The many gravel roads that criss-cross Hwy 72 lead to numerous high country lakes, campgrounds, Moffat Tunnels east portal and the ghost towns of Hesse, Apex and Caribou. It also passes the entrance to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. This route, aka Hwy 46, is a spectacular ride into the Boulder and Metro Denver areas.
Stay on Hwy 72 into the funky mountain town of Nederland. (If I need to explain Nederland to you – you wouldn’t understand.) In town at the intersection of Hwy 72 and Hwy 119, turn right. Highway 119 will take you past the Eldorado Ski Resort, through Rollinsville and into the famous mining towns of Central City and Blackhawk. The gold and silver mines are long gone but have been replaced by modern one arm bandits known as slot machines! I like to stop and visit my favorite casino for a delicious and reasonably priced meal and, to drop a few dollars into so those previously mentioned one arm bandits. After you’ve had enough of noisy casinos you head south to I-70 for the trip back home to Winter Park over Berthoud Pass via Hwy 40. I prefer taking the new four lane Central City Parkway to I-70.
You’ll be tired after your adventurous trip but I promise that you’ll want to revisit this beautiful scenic route, time and time again. (Just please don’t share it with too many people…) It is, with a doubt, one of the most beautiful day trips you can take through our beautiful Colorado Rocky Mountains.