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Upper Western National Park ride.


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Alan, a good friend /riding buddy (see BMWON “It never rains in your tent”), and I had planned to ride the Rockies this September. Due to work constraints it was not going to happen. However, I did have a couple of weeks earlier this month to undertake the adventure. Phil, a GS rider, and another riding/camping buddy, recently broke his ankle on his KLR so he could not go either. I had just serviced the bike; tires are new, ignition switch replaced. Good to go. This is going to be a camping trip. I leave from central CA on June 1 and ride past Lake Isabella on over the Sierras on 178 to Death Valley, my first night camp. I spend some time talking to the neighbor campers in the morning. You are never really alone when riding/camping single. I ride up past Scotty’s Castle and to Tonopah, NV. Central Nevada is 5000’ to 6000’ in elevation, the temps never got above 81 degrees and the cloud cover kept things very comfortable.




You can see oncoming cars half an hour before they arrive.




I cut across to Cedar City, UT, up past Cedar Breaks,




through the town of Panguich,




and on to Bryce Canyon, my second night camp spot. Dinner, evening ranger program, and some night sky viewing through telescopes finish the day. I do take a couple of hours to ride the rim the next morning.








Highway 12 through southern UT is always a kick.




The view from the gas station in Torrey




I ride down the scenic trail in Capitol Reef Nat’l Park and stop for lunch at the end of the pavement. Three German couples on American bikes, one American on a German bike. The grass is always greener……




On the way out I can’t help but notice the sky. Dodging squalls will become the theme of the trip, which is fantastic, seriously.




There is wet pavement occasionally throughout the day. I stop at about 6:30 at Colorado River State Park near Grand Junction, CO... Storm clouds have all the mountains covered that I’d cross if I rode any further. Besides, this campground has showers (bring extra quarters).


The next morning I take the two-lane highways south out of Grand Junction; 50 – 92 – 133




and over McClure Pass towards Carbondale (note sky).




I put the raingear on, ride through a shower at Aspen, and on up to Independence Pass. The last few miles before the pass are ridden in snow/sleet. I have to stop at the top in spite of the conditions. Besides, I’ve got rain gear on! The helmet never comes off. I stay warm and dry. In about ten minutes the weather clears and I spend about an hour up there having lunch and swapping stories with another rider that pulled in just after I did.

Here’s the storm leaving and the way down







The next shower coming in.




I get some rain before Leadville, but not massive amounts.




I’m heading towards Rocky Mountain National Park, but try to avoid the interstate and this is a RIDE. Loveland Pass is a nice detour around the tunnel on I70. More snow squalls just before the crest, but that only adds to the festive atmosphere for all the people at the top.

This is the way I’ll be riding next.




Big mountain, little bike.




Here is the way up and the snow squall that left not long after I arrived.






The campground on the western side on Rocky Mtn Park is closed so I ride over the Trail Ridge Road to the next place to camp. It is a fantastic ride, especially with the current weather conditions and the dusk lighting. I took me almost two hours to make the trek as I stopped so much. The pictures don’t adequately show the 38 degrees and wind (+12,000’). The ecosystem is subalpine arctic tundra. No problem, I just don’t take the helmet off when I stop.










I get to Aspenglen campground right at dark, perfect timing.

The next day I spend in the park, take in some ranger talks, hike around a bit, avoid deer and elk on the roadway, talk to people, and just generally enjoy myself. I move the camp to be closer to the “action”.

The trail to Bierstadt Lake



Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, across the canyon above the alluvial fan (too bad my camera doesn’t have a zoom)




Obligatory elk shot




The next day I go back over the Trail Ridge Rd and head towards Yellowstone.


The view leaving the valley.




More local wildlife.




I want to give a thanks to the person on this board that suggested riding over Battle Mountain on highway 70 in southern/central Wyoming, a great underappreciated ride.

Wyoming highways are fairly deserted.




The sky can change in a hurry, and yeah, I’m turning left into it...




I ride through Dubois, WY and can’t help but notice the storm obscuring the pass I have to cross to get to Teton Nat’l Park. I may punch through it, but if not, I’m screwed. Besides, it’s after 8:30 PM. Soooo, back to the KOA in Dubois where they have showers and laundry, both of which I can use. I get the tent set up, make dinner, and put on the weather radio. Showers are expected in the morning, no big deal. In the morning I do hear the rain on the tent, great sound, and then it quits about 6:30. I open the rain fly and see




Yes, the rain had turned to snow.


It’s off to the Cowboy Café for breakfast, and then find a place to purchase a collapsible umbrella. I spend the day touring the local museums (great display of the old buildings that are such a big part of the history of that area). I like the umbrella as I’m on foot and these squalls keep coming through.




I also buy a few items at the local grocery store. It was actually great to be able to spend the day in Dubois. The KOA owner and his wife are super people. They are quite proud of their home and very knowledgeable about the history and geology, as are the other people I meet. Dinner, back at the Cowboy Café. There is a television in the KOA store/ check-in office. I get to watch the NBA finals game with the couple from Oklahoma that take the evening shift in the office. They both played basketball back in the sixties when they were in high school. It’s great fun to watch the game with them and talk about the old Laker teams. They let me use the computer to check the weather forecast. Looks like tomorrow should be the greatest chance of precipitation, then lessening the rest of the week. There is a heavy frost warning for the morning. About midnight I heard snow falling on the tent. Here’s what I walk through as I head back to the Cowboy Café.




Several people commented on how cold or miserable it must be to be tent camping in the snow. Quite the opposite, it was fantastic. The sound snow make hitting the tent is very subtle, until it builds up enough to slide off. I never get to see it snow in Santa Ynez, CA and was not hindered in the least by the weather. Fortunately the pavement is just warm enough that the snow is melting on the roadway. I’ll try and head over the pass after breakfast.



I’ll post more later; this is probably getting rather large as it is.


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Enjoyed that and looking forward to more.


Miss you by a few days; we got coffee in Dubois on 6-2 and spent Tuesday thru Thursday in Yellowstone. Forecast for snow on Friday chased us out.



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Tony, what a great trip. I love camping on the bike. One meets so many interesting people in campgrounds vs motels.

Excellent tale and photo documentation. Thanks for posting!!

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Fantastic stuff Tony!!!


Love the pictures and even more, the "attitude"


I've been lucky enough to ride most of the roads you did, and there isn't much better riding than that!!!


Keep it coming please!!!!

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I posted the rest of the ride in two other topics. Writing this made me relive the excursion, pretty good memories.

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You are one lucky dude Tony. You actually got a photo of a Marmot !


The other stuff is good too ;)


Can't wait to mount up and duplicate your journey.

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This is realy an adventure, it's good to see that you are making the best of every situation, that make this a most enjoyable ride tale.

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Wow! What fantastic scenery and an awesome journey. The pics remind me of one of the best trips I've ever had ... two weeks riding through the mountains all inside Colorado. I'll be watching for updates.



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Wow! What fantastic scenery and an awesome journey. The pics remind me of one of the best trips I've ever had ... two weeks riding through the mountains all inside Colorado. I'll be watching for updates.





There is a part two and three (the end) further down the pages.

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