Q: What’s better than camping?
A: Motorcycle camping.
We had not camped this year and after attending Westfest 2016 in Gunnison, Colorado, we wanted to get away and do some camping.
We had initially were thinking of going back to Gunnison to a cool little spot by a river and doing a little mountain biking, but decided we wanted to go someplace new and add motorcycles to the mix.
June had been talking about a cool road she had ridden many years ago called Poudre Canyon Road (pronounced “Pooder” which I always giggled at). So we decided we would take Poudre and find some camping along the way. We also had an out of staying at a hotel in Steamboat Springs if the weather got bad or we got lazy (entirely possible with me).
Wanna know how good my life is? I just said out loud “I need another beer” and was about to put my Surface down, but June jumped right up and got one for me…Man! I love that woman!
Back on track…
We had a couple of options to get to Poudre Canyon. One was to hit the interstate, the other was to stick to semi-side roads…of course we took the semi-side routes. Our route would take us north through Boulder, Longmont, Loveland and Ft Collins. We really didn’t think this route would be too bad, but it took us almost 4 hours to get to Poudre Canyon. The traffic and stop lights going through these towns really slowed us down. I didn’t mind Longmont and Loveland so much because I thought they had a cool vibe going and I had not been to them before. Boulder I have been through, but because it is a busy college town, it’s a bit hectic and there are a lot of traffic lights. I really didn’t like Ft Collins. Ft Collins had a real hipster vibe to it and that is just not my thing.
Finally we reach Poudre Canyon and what can I say…it was totally worth it! Winding road, river running right next to the road…Awesome!
Poudre Canyon Rd
After being on the bikes for about 6 hours, we decided to have some lunch. We typically bring our Jetboil with us when we go on trips and this trip was no different. We also had some Mountain House Turkey Tetrazzini, which is friggin AWESOME!
We found a turn-out near the top of Cameron Pass that had no vehicles in it and looked like a cool spot and had our lunch. There is just something cool about stopping on the side of the road, firing up the Jetboil and making lunch.
Our lunch spot:
Near the top of Cameron Pass:
After lunch, we headed down the other side of Cameron Pass and on to Walden, Colorado.
A little info on Walden: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walden,_Colorado
The roads and scenery were beautiful going down the other side as you can see…
The roads then started to flatten out as we came into some farmland.
While mountain roads are beautiful, wide open roads on flat lands can be beautiful as well.
One of the good things about wide open roads is that I can play around taking pictures on the bike.
We stopped in Walden to get gas and have a little break. Out of Walden the roads were again flat and wide open. Then we started to climb towards Rabbit Ears Pass.
We stopped near the top of Rabbit Ears after passing what looked like a couple of dirt roads that might lead to some good camping. I really wanted to stay away from developed campgrounds and find some back country camping (well as much “back country” as you can get on a motorcycle).
Near the top of Rabbit Ears:
We decided to go back a little ways to a road that looked promising. We headed down the dirt road for about 7 miles and found a cool little spot that was kind of hidden from the road and had some good space for the bikes and tent setup. Also had a decent view looking southeast.
We set up camp and started to relax a bit. Here is the ‘no wine’ part. We were sitting around with nothing but water to drink and we realized that a box of wine would be awesome. We actually had a box of wine in the garage, but it didn’t even cross my mind to bring it…well it was crossing my mind now! We also didn’t know if there was a fire ban where we were, so no fire either. We made the best of it and got some good relaxing time in before heading to bed.
It was quite cold and we were a little uncomfortable and struggling to sleep…that’s when the gun shots started. It was about 12:30 am and someone not too far away decided that was a good time to start shooting. It wasn’t just one or two shots either, they decided to empty several magazines. This made for some interesting thoughts going through my head and even harder to fall asleep.
After a chilly, restless night of sleep we woke up to clear skies and cool temps.
We packed up and headed back to the main road.
Heading back to the main road:
We had thought about heading down into Steamboat Springs for breakfast but decided to just head straight home.
We headed toward Kremmling CO and then we would decide whether to take Hwy 9 towards Silverthorne CO or go via Granby and Winter Park.
Once we got to Kremmling, we stopped for a break and then decided to go home via Silverthorne.
The ride home was beautiful and uneventful. Even without the wine and fire, it was still a great time.
Hwy 9 heading towards Silverthorne from Kremmling:
And now for weekend two…
The following weekend was the fire and wine camping weekend…it was even better.
This time we also took a more direct route to get up in the area. The initial plan was to go near the same place we had camped the previous weekend.
Before we even got out of Evergreen (the town next to Conifer where I live), June had to stop to use the restroom…a common occurrence on our rides. I have never seen someone who needs to pee so often. June, if you are reading this, I love you.
Anyway, while we were at the gas station, June started chatting it up with some other motorcyclists. One of them had mentioned Buffalo Pass (near where we were going) was a favorite of his. He said it was a nice and easy fire road with the worst of it being some potholes on the Steamboat side. A guy we had met the previous weekend had also mentioned Buffalo Pass and said there was some good camping there, but we decided to skip it at the time.
Now, Buffalo Pass was our new destination.
Our route was up Hwy 40 through Winter Park, Granby and Kremmling. We would then head up route 14 towards Walden with our cutoff being about 14 miles from Walden.
Hwy 40 outside Empire:
We stopped at the top of Berthoud Pass to take a break…June had to go pee again. I noticed some guy admiring our bikes and eventually he came over and we all had a nice chat. One of the cool things about motorcycling is that, for some reason, when people see you on a motorcycle they are more likely to start chatting you up. This guy had rented an Africa Twin and took it to Gunnison and did some riding out there (we had been there 3 weeks previously). He wants a bike of his own, but with a wife and kids, he said he will wait until they get older…probably more the kids then the wife. As he started to leave, he said “Off to my minivan”, gave me a good laugh!
Top of Berthoud Pass:
More beautiful farmland:
Playing with the camera again:
I didn’t get any pictures going up Buffalo Pass, but like the guy said, it was an easy fire road.
Near the top we started looking for a campsite. We weren’t having much luck and then our communicators died (batteries). We stopped pretty much at the top and as luck would have it, we had stopped right by what looked like a cool spot to camp…little did we know how cool it was!
We got the bikes to a good spot where we could set up the tent. Then, I looked through some trees and there was a cool little lake, how awesome was that!!! Total added bonus.
The lake was literally 20 feet from where we were going to set up the tent.
Getting the bike to the campsite:
Overlook across the road from our campsite:
Our lake view seating:
We started to set up camp and thought, what the hell, let’s crack open the box of wine. I had 2 cups within about half an hour and was feeling good…I would be feeling even better later.
We then started gathering wood for our…FIRE! Yes folks, wine and a fire, life is AWESOME!
Once we had gathered enough wood and got comfortable, we sat down by the lake, got the fire started and got to the wine.
Our lake-side wine bar:
A little bit later we made our dinner by the lake (turkey tetrazzini of course). And then, guess what, more wine.
I cannot even tell you how much wine I had, but it was a lot! After a couple of hours of drinking, I was in the “This is the greatest weekend ever” stage of inebriation. Couldn’t tell you how many times I said that, but it was a lot. I was really having the best time ever. I was with the love of my life, we were motorcycle camping, we had a lake view campsite, a fire and of course, wine.
After warmer, more comfortable night without gunshots, we woke up to beautiful blue skies…they would not stay that way.
The view from our tent:
Our lake in the morning light:
We packed up camp and then started heading down into Steamboat Springs.
The road down the other side of Buffalo Pass was not quite as easy as we thought it would be…especially on fully loaded adventure bikes. There were a couple of rutted and loose areas. It was, however, a lot of fun and not too bad.
Overlooking Steamboat from Buffalo Pass:
After going down the main drag of Steamboat (I wasn’t overly impressed), we headed on home.
I had noticed that more and more clouds were forming and they weren’t looking too harmless.
Our route took us back over Rabbit Ears Pass and then we would take the reverse of what we had taken the previous day.
The weather started looking like it was going to get very, very ugly. Looking in the direction we were headed, it looked like it was already raining. We were lucky and dodged the rain most of the way home, until going down Berthoud Pass. The rain wasn’t too bad, but going down a twisty descent with fresh water on the road…not my idea of fun.
We made it home unscathed after a fantastic weekend. I look forward to our next overnight adventure.
Thanks for coming along…