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Colorado Springs
July 23 - Aug 5, 2003
Previous trips through Colorado had been in April and the higher altitudes were snowed in, so I was really interested in visiting in the summer when everywhere was accessible.  We really had no idea where to head for so we stopped off at the first major city we reached in the Rockies, Colorado Springs, and started asking around at the bike shops for the best places for Dual Sport riding.  It seemed like the single best place was Gunnison as it was centrally located to access so many different areas - Crested Butte, Silverton, Durango, Ouray, Telluride, Aspen, etc.  There were also many nice places to ride to from Colorado Springs, so we decided to stay  2 weeks here before moving on to Gunnison.

From Colorado Springs we were able to ride west and get to the gold mining area of Cripple Creek - now a tourist trap full of casinos - and ride Old Stage Road, Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon.  Going north on Hwy 24 past Pikes Peak  gave access to the huge Rampart Range Recreation Area, open to off-road bikes and ATV's, plus some great roads alongside the N. Platte River.  Trips south on 115 took us to Canyon City and Royal Gorge, plus the south end of Phantom Canyon and Shelf Road. 

Gold Belt Tour
Old Stage Road
Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon
Joined the 2 Mile High club?

Pikes Peak
First time at 14,000' on a bike
Pike's Peak is home to the famous race
The top part of Pikes Peak is just dirt road cut into the mountain
Rampart range - nice Hummer!

Aug 5 - Sept 5, 2003
We definitely got lucky at Gunnison when we decided to stay at Mesa RV Park - many of the RV's in the park had at least a couple of KTM's parked outside!  Quickly got a list of all the good places to ride - the Crested Butte area, the Alpine Loop from Lake City to Silverton and Ouray, Telluride, and the nearby Hartman Rocks.  Probably one of the best resources at Gunnison is the Forestry Service office which has great maps showing all the forest access roads - perfect for dual sport rides.  A real benefit of staying in Colorado is that even the paved roads are fantastic - especially Hwy 198 through the Black Canyon of Gunnison to Crawford, home of  Joe Cocker's Mad Dog Restaurant.

A few minutes from our campground in Gunnison was Hartman Rocks Recreation Area - this is BLM land and open to all users - hikers, mountain bikes, and off-road vehicles.

Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
Good mountain biking and off-road riding

The area around Ouray and Silverton on the Million Dollar Highway is Jeep heaven - there's so many dirt roads, many of them only passable by high clearance 4x4's, and so many places to rent Jeeps - it just perfect for dual sport riding. Some trails, like Black Bear, are so rough you should only attempt them on serious off-road vehicles - definitely not KLR routes. Alpine Loop trails are between Ouray, Silverton and Lake City, the latter being a nice one hour ride from Gunnison.

Alpine Loop
The trail from Lake City to Engineers Pass

Engineers Pass
Cinnamon Pass

Crested Butte lies about 30 miles north of Gunnison and has a huge variety of trails - everything from easy gravel roads to the impassible Pearl Pass (the peak was still blocked with snow!). Lot's of fun rides like Tincup Pass  - and don't miss the Tincup Pie at Frenchie's Cafe in Tincup - Cumberland Pass and the Alpine Tunnel.

Crested Butte
 Gunnison to Crested Butte
The road to the Alpine Tunnel 
The hills above Alimont

Pearl Pass

To the west of Ouray and Silverton lies Telluride - this has to be the most spectacular location we visited - nestled in a blind canyon with Imogene and Black Bear Passes at the end of the valley.  A free ski lift in the village provides great views of the mountains. This is definitely a must-visit on any Colorado trip

Ophir Pass, Telluride to Silverton
Spectacular rock formations and colours, plus a rough enough trail to make it interesting

Imogene Pass, Telluride
 This was a scary trail for 2-up riding - narrow, bumpy and BIG drop offs
That's Black Bear on the distant mountain face. 
Black Bear is rated as the hardest trail in Colorado

As well as all the off-road riding, we did many miles on paved roads and they were just a much fun - it's really hard to find a straight or flat road in Colorado.  Definitely need another visit here to continue exploring!

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