March is still a pretty cold month in Colorado back-country, except as is typically the case, Mother Nature generously dishes out a few days where the temperatures are warm enough for a motorcycle ride. Fortunately for us, a couple of those days happened to fall on the weekend, so we decided to take a motorcycle route through the Rocky Mountains.
The route we took was conservative, considering there was still a lot of snow in the mountains. Nonetheless, we did get a lot of off road riding in and didn’t run into any ice on our day-long trip.
We started off at Apex Sports in Colorado Springs. A good meeting place as one can pick up any last minute supplies they may need. We were hoping to find some earplugs, but unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea and none were to be found. By about 9:30 am, we were on our way.
The ride out was along State Highway 24 until we got to Florissant, CO. It’s a tiny town but is has one important feature; a gas station. So we topped off the tanks, switched gloves and moved onto the dirt roads. We took the following route:
- County Road 46
- County Road 16
- County Road 98
- Thirtynine Mile Rd
- County Road 92
- San Juan Street then back onto State Highway 94 to Buena Vista, CO
Time: About 3.5 hours
This took us through some really nice wooded back-country areas and along the back-side of the Elevenmile Canyon Reservoir. Despite it being sunny and about 55°F, there were quite a few ice fisherman out on the lake. I guess even with the warmer weather we had been having, it was still safe enough to walk out onto the ice. From the side of the lake were were on, the ice had receded a good distance from the shore, so it was a little surprising to see folks out there.
The roads were all well maintained and surprisingly, we didn’t run into any snow on the ground. The last week had been clear and in the 50’s back in the Springs, but that doesn’t mean the mountains share in the same great weather. It’s hit-and-miss this time of year and the macro-climates are quite pronounced. There was some snow under the trees in the shady spots, but nothing we had to worry about.
We stopped of in the small (and I mean small) town of Guffey where the population is barely pushing 100. There isn’t much there except for one place to eat, which is surprisingly good. There are two old antique shops that are interesting to look at, but aside from that, there is literally nothing else there, including gas.
Once back on Highway 24, we continued west until we arrived in Buena Vista, where we caught lunch at a local burger shop. We had been riding for about 4 hours so it was nice to get off the bikes and chill for a bit, and I mean that quite literally as some cloud cover moved in whereby the temperatures had dropped to the upper 40’s.
From Buena Vista, we took the following mostly dirt roads back.
- County Rd 307
- County Rd 187
- County Rd 86
- McCurray Rd
- Badger Creek Rd
- County Rd 53
- State Hwy 9
- County Rd 102 (Stopped in Guffey)
- County Rd 112
- County Rd 11
- Teller County Rd 1
- County Rd 42
- State Highway 24
Time: About 4.5 hours
This route took us through some beautiful Colorado back-country dirt roads that were also well maintained. The nearly 360° mountain views were fantastic. We again run into a few areas were snow was on the ground, but fortunately we didn’t have to deal with any on the roads. Wildlife was abundant. We came across packs of elk, deer and quite literally ran into some antelope. Got to watch out for those antelope, as they can easily spook and run right in front of you, as was the case with us.
The roads were a mix of lose gravel and crushed pikes peak granite. There was a small stretch where things got just a bit squirrely, but nothing major. This was an easy ride as compared to the other riders we almost met up with who were going higher into the mountains. They ran into all sorts of snow and mud. We actually stumbled across them on the side of Highway 24 on our return back. They had to turn around, and despite this still ran out of gas. It was just slow going for them and they looked exhausted.
After a short stop to see if they needed help, we headed back into Colorado Springs. The total ride was about 8 hours. At one point in the higher country, the temperature dropped to about 38°F, but it didn’t last long. For most of the ride, the temperatures were right round 50°F.