Colorado is best known for its majestic, natural scenery from the eastern plains to the front range, across the Rocky Mountains and through the San Luis Valley. The Centennial State has hundreds of eye-catching sites to explore. Often the journey is as much about the scenery as it is getting to the destination. That makes Colorado a popular place for motorcycling. With thousands of motorcycles registered with the state, plus a steady stream of visitors, motorcycles are often found on Colorado roads. Among the many motorcycle adventures, there are some top rated motorcycle rides in Colorado.
Trail of the Ancients
Located on the western side of the state, the Trail of the Ancients is a popular motorcycle ride for biker historians. This route extends 116 miles through former civilizations of the Navajo tribe. The tribe lived on the Colorado Plateau for centuries; however, modern understanding of their culture or disappearance remains incomplete. Along the Trail of the Ancients you can experience cliff dwellings, cave art and other archeological sites. This trail will also bring your motorcycle through the Four Corners at Cortez, Colorado.
Sante Fe Trail
The Sante Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway is another adventure for motorcycle-riding historians. This route will take your bike on a 188 mile path formerly followed as a historic trade route. The Sante Fe trail was a common path for wagons traveling the southwest during most of the nineteenth century. The byway is easy to navigate and mostly straight, unlike some of the mountain paths. By motorcycle you can complete the byway in approximately four hours. Near the midpoint you can find Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, a trading post built in 1833. The byway also passes through the Comanche National Grassland.
Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway
Our third historian’s motorcycle ride in Colorado is the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway. This motorcycle ride takes you through a broad sweep of history from prehistoric fossils to World War II sites. The route includes Uravan where miners extracted uranium for the nation’s first atomic bombs. Among the historic sites you can also enjoy the scenery full of red sandstone canyons and rivers. The route is 133 miles, slightly longer than the first two.
San Juan Mountain Skyway
The San Juan Mountain Skyway in Ouray, Colorado offers one of the most scenic motorcycle rides in the nation. The route is a lengthy 233 mile loop rising 11,000 feet above sea level. The route passes though several historic towns for breaks, which you may need. The skyway is approximately six hours on motorcycle, plus time for stops and meals.
Another nearby motorcycle ride for mountain fans is the Alpine Loop. The alpine loop passes through higher elevations near Lake City, Ouray and Silverton. It is just 65 miles to complete the loop but it is largely off-road and backcountry. Make sure you and your motorcycle is prepared for the route. It takes your through prairies, mountains, tundra and other scenic conditions. You will also pass through historic pit stops including ghost towns from the state’s mining history. As the name suggests, the alpine loop often experiences snow outside of the summer (June-September) so plan your trip accordingly.
Mount Evans Bypass
The Mount Evans bypass, located just sixty miles west of Denver, is recognized as the highest paved road in North America. The route often takes an entire day. At the top of the bypass you will climb to over 14,000 feet in elevation at the top of Mount Evans. Mount Evans is one of Colorado’s fourteeners–mountains exceeding elevation of 14,000 feet. Although the journey takes most of a day, it is worth it to experience the views from the top.
Trail Ridge Road Scenic and Historic Byway
Another mountain route is the Trail Ridge Road Scenic and Historic Byway. This motorcycle ride is also near Denver, departing Estes Park. It is a 48 mile route one way. It is the highest paved road in the United States that does not dead end, like the Mount Evans bypass. This ride will take your bike through animal-filled locations where you may see bighorn sheep or elk. The route passes through Rocky Mountain National Park and offers some of the best scenery in the state.
Preparing for motorcycle rides in Colorado
Many motorcycle rides in Colorado travel through mountains and other high elevations. Along these paths you may depart paved roads, travel on switchbacks and experience snow or ice. Conditions can be more dangerous outside of the summer. In some areas snow and ice can remain in the spring and fall, sometimes even year-round. Review conditions on your route carefully before traveling. If you lack experience riding on unpaved roads or on icy roads, you may want to gain experience and ensure your motorcycle can handle road conditions beforehand.
Also make sure you travel with appropriate supplies for your motorcycle ride. Temperatures can quickly drop as elevation climbs and some people experience physical symptoms of elevation sickness. Make sure you have clothing appropriate for the entire ride, as well as sufficient food and water or knowing where to stop for meals. Of course, always ride your motorcycle with a helmet. If you experience a crash on your ride, contact our Denver motorcycle accident lawyers for help obtaining medical care and compensation for your damages.