A Ride to the Top of the World (Almost)
The state of Colorado has some of the most scenic and beautiful places to ride in the country. Two of the roads I have in mind are Colorado 65 and Colorado 92 just east of Grand Junction. Colorado 65 takes you to the top of Grand Mesa, the largest mesa in the country covering over 500 square miles, while Colorado 92 winds its way around the north side of the Black Canyon.
From Grand Junction, take Interstate 70 east about 20 miles to Exit 49. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right onto Colorado65 and enjoy the next 61 miles of the Grand Mesa Scenic and Historic Byway. There are a number of turnouts as you ride up the north side of the mesa, so stop and get plenty of photos. There is also fuel and food on the mesa if the need arises. You will also find two Visitor Centers on the mesa for information.
A word of caution: You willl reach elevations up to 11,000 feet on Grand Mesa, so if you have respiratory problems or trouble breathing at high altitudes, you may want to forego this ride. At the southern end of Highway 65, you can turn left and continue onto the Highway 92 part of the ride or, if you are done for the day, a right turn will take you to the town of Delta and north back to Grand Junction.
From the junction at Highway 65,Colorado 92 will take you south to the town of Hotchkiss. This is a good place for a lunch break. There are several café’s and restaurants in Hotchkiss from Chinese to BBQ. I took a chance on the Hometown Cafe on Hwy 133, a couple of blocks north of the junction of 92. Stu, my riding buddy for this trip, and I both tried the green chili cheeseburger. We weren’t disappointed with our menu selection.
Our hunger sated, we continued south on Colorado 92. This scenic highway provides breathtaking views of canyons and lakes as you wind around the mountain sides. There are a number of vista points and overlooks with paved parking areas to stop for photos. You can also access the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison from Hwy 92, however you will have about 10 miles of gravel or dirt road to ride. If you would like to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, I recommend you visit the south rim which you can access from US 50 30 miles west of the junction with Colorado 92. All the roads to the park and inside the park are paved.
Colorado 92 ends at US 50 just after you cross the dam at Blue Mesa Reservoir. From this point you can ride west to Montrose, or head east to the town of Gunnison. The total distance from Interstate 70 to US 50 is 131 miles. Actual riding time is about three hours, however, you should plan on about 5 hours to travel the distance when you include lunch and stops for photos.
Enjoy the ride!!