Saturday, July 3, 2010

Four Corners Run

Link to Map

I realize that there is nothing particularly "out of the way" about a trip from Broomfield to the Four Corners monument. Then again, we are talking about 431 miles of beautiful mountains and desert country, crossing five passes including the Great Divide.

This run falls into a category I would call, "mini-vacation." While covering somewhere in the neighborhood of 950 miles, we were able to pull this off on a weekend, skipping out of only half a day of work on Friday. The miles go by quickly over an ever-changing landscape.

Fuel stops are plentiful enough that you don't have to worry about running out, even across the sparse San Luis valley. Our first stop was outside of Fairplay, and we didn't need to stop again until Center. The folks at the Center fuel station are friendly enough to spend a few minutes with. One mechanic on a break was particularly impressed with my Bonneville, as they don't see Triumphs come through very often.

We left 285 for 160 at Monte Vista heading west. Having left the city at around noon, we were riding into the sunset, which reduced visibility a bit. Fortunately it wasn't long before we were in the eastern shadow of the San Juans heading towards Wolf Creek Pass. If you've ever heard the song named for Wolf Creek Pass, you'll know what to expect. It's a stunning valley, tight twisties climbing to 10,863ft. Just watch that last 25mph turn - I'd take it at 15.

Nathan at the cabin

We spent the first night at the Durango KOA. Say what you will about Kampgrounds of America, but I like'em. I've spent plenty of nights sleeping at primitive sites, but after a long day of riding, there's nothing wrong with having a cabin waiting for you.

The second day found us touring Mesa Verde. My wife and son had driven ahead to get the cabin ready and to join us for a day at the park. If you haven't been to Mesa Verde's cliff dwellings I'd highly recommend them. Just be aware that the first 15 miles into the park are currently under construction. The roads that haven't been reduced to gravel and dirt have had the asphalt surface scraped. Deep grooves and potholes make up much of the path into the park. After the guest center, however, the roads are brand new.

After spending half the day with the family and the ghosts of the ancients, we decided it was time to make the run to the Four Corners Monument. The monument lies outside of Cortez, about 40 miles into Ute Nation territory. There's not much going on in this corner of the reservation beyond a casino, and the highways are in varied degrees of maintenance.

It was hot and windy, as I imagine it must be in this part of the country most of the time. We rode on at a steady lean until we got to the gates of the park to find that it was closed!

Damned thing was closed

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