Over the past three days, my bride and I traveled 748 miles, passing through approximately 49 cities and/or places with a name, to include No Name on I-70. Eagle, CO was our resting place for two nights.
Our adventure began on Hwy 24 out of Colorado Springs, which took us through some of the previously mentioned towns and Buena Vista, which will probably get a mention in two weeks when we ride with a big Harley group. From Buena Vista, we continued on Hwy 24 that took us along a winding road that gradually inclined until we arrived in Leadville. The scenery was beautiful.
In the late 19th century, Leadville was the second most populous city in Colorado, after Denver. In 1874, gold miners discovered that the heavy sand that impeded their gold recovery was the lead mineral cerussite, carrying a high content of silver. Prospectors traced the cerussite to its source, and by 1876, discovered several lode silver-lead deposits. The city of Leadville was founded near to the new silver deposits in 1877 by mine owners Horace Austin Warner Tabor and August Meyer, setting off the Colorado Silver Boom. First they called the city “Slabtown,” but soon when it started becoming wealthy they changed the name to “Leadville.” By 1880, Leadville was one of the world’s largest silver camps, with a population of over 40,000. Leadville was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1961. It includes 67 mines in the mining district east of the city up to the 12,000 foot level.
Leaving Leadville, we continued higher up into the mountains. We came upon the Tennessee Pass, which is a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division.
Farther up the road, after traversing high cliff roads and bridges spanning deep gorges, we came across the abandoned mining town of Gilman, CO. We were pretty lucky to have seen it from one of the curves we rounded. It isn’t accessible, but one would think it was inhabited not long ago, judging by the looks of the building. What I can tell you is this: Gilman was founded in 1886 during the Colorado Silver Boom. The town later became a center of lead and zinc mining in Colorado, centered on the now-flooded Eagle Mine. It was abandoned in 1984 by order of the Environmental Protection Agency because of toxic pollutants, including contamination of the ground water, as well as unprofitability of the mines. It is currently a ghost town on private property and is strictly off limits to the public.
After riding through sheer beauty, we made it to I-70 where we headed west to Eagle, CO to check in to our hotel. Once that was done, we took a quick ride west to Glenwood Springs, CO, which was about 30 miles away. The 15 miles prior to getting into Glenwood Springs is a ride through Glenwood Canyon. Awesome, plain and simple. The roads traveling east and west are different for the rider because one road is elevated, while the other runs along the river.
Up and about the next day, we headed back into Glenwood Springs, where we treated ourselves to pampering at:
Glenwood Springs was originally known as “Defiance”. Defiance was established in 1883, a camp of tents, saloons, and brothels with an increasing amount of cabins and lodging establishments. It was populated with the expected crowd of gamblers, gunslingers, and prostitutes. Doc Holliday, spent the final months of his life in Glenwood Springs and is buried in the town’s original Pioneer Cemetery.
About 30 miles down the road is Rifle, CO. Rifle was founded in 1882, and up until very recently, it wasn’t known for much. Enter Sarah Larimer, a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post, and Rifle became a Facebook sensation for it’s pistol packing waitresses.
Shooters and it’s new notoriety is a bit overwhelmed I’d say. It’s a quaint little diner with burgers and such, but other than armed ladies, that’s all it is. Buy hey, good for Shooters. Soak it up while you’re 15 minutes of fame last.
Much further up the road and down into the desert is the town of Palisade, CO, home of some of the most delicious peaches you will ever eat.
On the morning of the third day, we headed back to Glenwood Springs to travel Hwy 82 to make our way home via Aspen, CO.
As with all of the other roads we traveled, beautiful is best describes the ride.
We made our way through Aspen, which, is not for the common person. Just passing the little airport lets you know that this is a place for the rich and famous. I’m not sure if they could have parked any more private jets in and around the airport.
Thankfully, we were in and out of Aspen in minimal time so that we could start our ascent to Independence Pass.
Independence Pass it is the second-highest pass with an improved road in the state, the fourth-highest paved road in the state and the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in the U.S.
The pass was created by glaciation and erosion over thousands of years. Before European-American settlers arrived, it was in the territory of the Ute Native American tribe. One of the earliest sightings by a European-American was in 1806, when Zebulon Pike, mapping the southern boundary of the Louisiana Purchase, spotted the gap in what would later be named the Sawatch Range from the upper Arkansas River valley.
The road down the eastern slope was not as challenging as the western slope. If I were to make the journey to the top again I would choose the eastern approach due to the ease of access and the wide open approach to scenery.
Hwy 82 butted up against Hwy 24, so we had come full circle. When we made our turn just south of Buena Vista that would lead up to familiar territory, the holiday traffic was absurd. Bumper to bumper, stand still kind of absurd. We quickly made a U-turn and headed back to the turn. We headed south to Salida, CO where we could pick up Hwy 50. By the way, Salida was a railroad town and a significant link in the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad during World War II.
Once we got onto Hwy 50, we followed the Arkansas River east until it was out of sight and continued on to Canon City, CO. Familiar grounds once again. From Canon City, we traveled a short distance to Penrose, CO where we caught Hwy 115 back home. The short of it, it took us less than five hours to get to Eagle, CO. It took us around eight hours to get home. We would probably still be stuck in traffic had we not made the change in course.
It was an incredible adventure with my bride, despite the traffic on the way home. The time with her was well spent. Happy birthday baby.
Please note, there won’t be a post next week as we are taking the weekend off to work in the yard and get sunburned. In two weeks, we ride a 5 in 1 poker run, that’s five passes/summits in one day on the way to Durango, CO.
Until next time, cheers.