Saturday, September 3, 2011 @ 7:00 PM in General Travel
This ride report covers a 3 day ride through Colorado over Labor Day weekend 2011. Some of the areas we visited were Gunnison, CO, Black Canyon and Colorado National Monument. The riders were Brandon on his 2004 Suzuki SV650 and Ryan on his 2011 KTM Adventure Dakar. Before the trip started, Brandon rode from Albuquerque to Denver on Friday, then after the trip, he rode back to Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Our first day started off great. We left Denver around 8:45am with temperatures in the 70's. We left by taking US 6 to I-70 out of Denver toward Vail where we would catch US 24. The ride down US 24 toward Leadville was nice. The scenery was beautiful and there were some nice curves.
We stopped for lunch in Leadville at the Golden Burro, which started in 1938 and is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Colorado. The portions were a little smaller than we had expected based on the price we paid, but overall the food was good and the servers were attentive.
From Leadville we continued on US 24 as it merged to US 285 just after Buena Vista. We arrived in Poncha Springs to head west on US 50 toward Gunnison. A lot of these roads are one lane, so long lines of cars stuck behind a camper or truck are very common. Just be prepared for that. We got into Gunnison around 3:00pm and stopped at a liquor store to grab some beers and vodka for the next two nights. We then made our way to the Steven's Creek Campground on the Blue Mesa Reservoir.
The camp site was easy to find, as it was just off of US 50 about 11 miles outside of Gunnison. We setup our tents, unpacked some of the stuff off our bikes and started working on cooling down the beers. The high 80's temperatures had already started to warm them up. We built a small cooler by making a small rocked off area in the water to put the beers and help cool them down. The water was probably around 65 degrees, so it did a good job of keeping the booze chilled.
The campsite host came over as we were setting up our tents and started talking to us about what there is to do around the camping area. He asked us what we were doing tomorrow and we had just planned on riding some curvy roads around the area. He told us about Black Canyon and how there are some great cycling roads on the North Rim on US 92. He gave us a map and we made some notes and figured it sounded like a cool route, so we set the map aside for the morning. The host also told us about a restaurant just outside of Gunnison called the Trough, it’s marked by a pink pig statue outside of the restaurant. They have an adult kids meal for $8.95, which comes with a beer, burger, and fries.
One of the camping spots next to us had two or three families that had all set up camp in the same area. They had a bunch of kids and a boat full of water sport equipment. The camp site to the other side of us was still empty when we had arrived. Steven's Creek allows fires and each camp site has a nice pre-built fire pit. You can purchase firewood or go collect the driftwood that was everywhere. The driftwood burns extremely fast, so you might want to collect a lot of it before it gets dark so you don't run out. The campsite host also let us grab a couple handfuls of wood he had collected from when people left and had extra wood they didn't burn.
The first night started off good. Sunset was really nice because there were some clouds that really picked up the red/orange/pink glows as the sun set. We were tired and went to bed around 9:30 or 10. The neighbors next to us with the kids were up about an hour later than us talking and stuff. It made it a little hard to fall asleep, but we eventually did. Then an hour or so later we were awoken by two barking dogs and a screaming kid. We thought someones dog had got loose and attacked a kid, but weren’t sure. The crying and barking went on the rest of the night. It rained some time between midnight and two in the morning, but when we woke up you couldn't even tell. There weren't even any dust spots on the bikes. It must have been enough rain to make noise on the tents but that's about it.
The temperatures at night dropped into the 30's, so if you're camping in Colorado toward the end of the summer, make sure you bring a nice warm sleeping bag. Ryan got so cold he put on several layers of clothes and used his leather riding jacket to cover his face, and he was still freezing cold. Brandon had a low temperature rated sleeping bag and was comfortable through the night.
Posted from: United States