Long day of riding on Monday, Martin Luther King Day, but I think it was well worth it. I wanted to go to Winter Park, Colorado and locate the western end of the Moffat Tunnel. I’d previously found the eastern portal back on January 13 while riding around Rollinsville, Colorado.
The weather had been so warm on Saturday that I was sure that Berthoud Pass, which US40 uses to allow one to get to Winter Park from Denver would be clear and open for traffic. I left the house sometime before 9:30 AM and made my usual way across the Denver metro area using US285 to Kipling Avenue to Morrison Rd. From Morrison, it was CO93 north to where it intersects with US40, just north of where it intersects with the I-70 Super Slab.
Using US40, I was soon at the Buffalo Overlook near Genesee Park. I customarily stop my motorcycle at this point since this is where one catches the first sight of the distant snow covered mountains:
A brief sprint from Buffalo Overlook on I-70 and I took the Evergreen Parkway exit and got back onto the more sedate two lane road which is US40. Using this road, I made my way to where it ends and then got back on the I-70 Slab for a few miles, past Idaho Springs and finally getting to the junction with US40. Exiting here takes you northward towards Berthoud Falls, Berthoud Pass and eventually as you make your way down from the pass, into the ski resort town of Winter Park.
The clouds were very low that morning, obscuring some of the higher peaks that provide breathtaking scenery while one drives up the paved road towards Berthoud Pass. The road was wet but not icy, and there was a thin layer of packed snow in the middle between the opposing lanes of traffic.
A panoramic view of the mountains, just past hairpin turn #5 heading towards Berthoud Pass from the small settlement of Berthoud Falls. Berthoud Falls is also near where one takes the trail to get to Jones’ Pass.
Finally got to Berthoud Pass, the roads had not been bad at all but there had been plenty of fast driving cars and SUVs to keep one on his toes
I left Berthoud Pass and continued northwards towards Winter Park. More hairpin turns were in store for everyone and I kept the pace at or below the posted speed limit. Lots of road spray and such but I was glad for it since wet is better than icy.
Soon enough, I was at the outskirts of Winter Park and after a couple of wrong turns, found the way to the western portal of the Moffat Tunnel. You have to turn off of US40 onto Winter Park’s Old Town, traverse it, then find Winter Park Rd on the far end of town. Then look for a train trestle, cross under it, follow it past the Sonderson Ski Lift area. You’ll see the tunnel’s portal at this point.
Darn near got stuck when I chose the wrong path to get closer to the tunnel! I managed to drag Natasha’s front end back around and finally got her settled on packed snow vs the loose stuff which had high-centered her when I tried to do a u-turn.
West Portal of the Moffat Tunnel
Exiting the tunnel’s immediate area, I made my way back through Old Town Winter Park, back onto US40. Heading south in the worsening road spray, I kept my eye open for more photo opportunities since the sun had finally broken out from the low hanging clouds of earlier in the morning.
Things look much better with some sunlight shining, don’t they? Again, this is the scenic overlook that is just past hairpin turn #5 when one is heading towards Berthoud Pass from the settlement of Berthoud Falls.
As I approached Berthoud Falls, after negotiating Berthoud Pass one more time, I spotted the turnoff for Jones Pass and took it. The paved road deadends at a mining complex but there’s a snow-covered trail with a sign pointing towards Jones Pass to the right. I followed the trail and was soon at a small parking lot where there were people getting ready to go hiking and snowmobiling.
You should have seen the looks they gave me as I went past to the trail leading to Jones Pass. Alas, it was not to be, my pusher tire starting fishtailing almost immediately and I decided Jones Pass would have to wait for another day as I was too tired and pressed for time to try and switch out my pusher tire for the knobby spare tire.
So I headed back towards US40 and Berthoud Falls. A sign caught my attention as I neared the US40 turnoff. I thought it read URAL, which as you can imagine, would catch any Ural rider’s eye. It turned out instead to be URAD.
I took the opportunity to use clean snow to wipe down the road spray covered headlight, signal lights, helmet visor and windshield on Natasha. It would be for naught, as they became dirty soon afterwards.
As I approached US40’s junction with the I-70 Slab, I made the decision to work in Loveland Pass which was perhaps another 20 minutes westward on I-70.
Natasha labored for the next 30 minutes to climb the grade towards Loveland Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel which most people use to cross the Continental Divide. Natasha could not maintain more than 45 mph though sometimes the terrain allowed spurts to 50 mph! I was definitely one of the slower vehicles making my way up to the pass. I am happy to report though, that I was not the slowest! That honor belongs to the laden semi-trailers who were barely making 30 mph up the 6% grades leading to the divide.
Finally, we got to the junction with US6 which takes one to Loveland Pass. Trucks with hazardous materials are required to take Loveland Pass instead of driving with their cargo through the Eisenhower Tunnel. It’s pretty steep climbing up on US6 to Loveland Pass but the road was “mostly” clear of snow and ice. Traffic was light luckily and except for one idiot passing on a double-yellow, there were no “exciting” moments to speak of.
There was however, some pretty breathtaking scenery to behold:
On the way up to Loveland Pass on US6
Looking forward towards Loveland Pass
You can see back in the distance, part of the US6 roadway that allows one to climb to the pass
Natasha at Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide
As you can see in the four picture sequence above, there was lots of snow on the mountains that one can enjoy while riding on the way to Loveland Pass on US6. You’ll note also all the gray stuff that road spray had deposited on poor Natasha.
After enjoying the views from Loveland Pass, I realized it was time to get going for home if I was to beat the evening rush. I made my way back down US6 towards the I-70 Slab. Traffic was slow and heavy due to the large number of people making their way back to Denver after a day at the ski slopes. This was OK by me and Natasha as the slow traffic was well within our comfort levels in terms of speed.
I tanked up Natasha at the town of Georgetown and checked in with my loving wife. The rest of the ride was a reverse of the route I’d taken up into the mountains. Traffic remained pretty heavy of I-70 so I was glad to quit it by using US40 once east of Idaho Spring, until I was back in the Denver metro area. I was home just shy of 4:30 PM. So not quite 8 hours in the saddle and 328 Kms ridden (almost 197 miles). A good day of riding!
Previous ride to Loveland Pass: Crossing the Continental Divide on Loveland Pass
Previous ride through Berthoud Pass: Trail Ridge Road, Check!
Ride Safe. Ride Aware.