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Great Motorcycling Roads

Colorado: Trail Ridge Road

From Estes Park to Granby on US 34 through Rocky Mountain National Park. Total distance: 55 miles. Type: Either direction

Starting in the small and charming Colorado tourist town of Estes park where the movie 'The Shining' was shot at the stately Stanley Hotel, US 34 enters Rocky Mountain National Park and crosses the Continental Divide. This is the imaginary line across the continental land masss of the US where all rivers and streams to the West of this line flow into the Pacific and those to the East of it flow into the Atlantic.

The road winds through gorgeous passes towards Long's Peak one of Colorado's 73 fourteeners (peaks above the height of 14,000 ft above sea-level). At its highest point of 11,720 feet it is reputedly the highest motorable road in the Continental United States. You will notice that when you get above 8,000 feet your bike will be considerably more sluggish than you remember. You're not imagining it. With air thinning out at the rate of 5%  for every 1500 feet of elevation gain, the atmosphere is pretty rarified at that height.

Watch for grazing elk and big horn sheep along the road as they tend to wander somewhat aimlessly, and they have the right of way within the park! In any event, an argument between a motorcycle and an elk will end poorly for the bike!

As you cross the highest point, which is quite well sign-posted, the road plunges down into the Poudre Valley. losing about 3,000 feet of elevation in about 5 miles. A good idea to downshift and stay off the brakes, as you're not likely to have brakes at the bottom of the hill if you've been leaning on them all the way down.

The exact point where the road crosses the Continental Divide is also well signposted.

The road is well travelled and tends to be crowded with campers and SUVs in the summer, during the day-time. The best times to ride this road would be either early in the morning before the crowds get there or in late afternoon or early evening as thecrowds begin to dissipate.

Ideally suited for sport bikes, this is a local favourite.