Where to ride from Denver? North then west, or west then north?

Discussion in 'The Rockies – It's all downhill from here...' started by Phlooburoo, Oct 15, 2005.

  1. Phlooburoo

    Phlooburoo More Pagan Proclivities!

    Aug 26, 2004
    Ann Arbor, MI
    I'm planning a cross-country ride from Michigan next summer and am trying to figure out where to go from Denver. I'll have about two weeks to loop back to the greater Colorado area. Whichever way I decide, I want to generally head westward and end up in northern California. But I'm trying to decide whether to hit some Southwest national parks (like Arches and Bryce Canyon) and then head northwest, or head north toward Yellowstone and then due west.

    Here's what I don't know: What's worth my time in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho?

    Yellowstone and Grand Teton are the only landmarks I know that I want to see (sometime), but are the roads worth heading in that direction? I'll be traveling 2-up, so it'll mostly be on the slab and secondary roads. I don't expect to do much dirt this trip, although we will be camping so some dirt may be required to find a nice spot for the night.

    And just so you know, I'll be hitting the southwest at the end of my trip, so heading to the Grand Canyon or below is out for the Denver departure.

    Any thoughts?

  2. alanf

    alanf Colorado AdvRider

    Mar 10, 2004
    Mountains of Colorado
    There are a lot of great things to the see in the Rocky Mountain states, whether it is New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming or Montana. Southern Utah is incredible, as is northern Arizona. The problem is that to the west, like to the east, there is a lot of flat landscape that needs to be covered. It doesn't matter whether you go across southern Idaho, northern Utah or southern Arizona its a tough path. North-south good, east-west bad.

    With that in mind, I'd say there are two possible paths. The first goes north up the Rockies, across the plains of southern Wyoming to Tetons/Yellowstone, then up into Montana. Then head west from Missoula through central Idaho and across the dry side of Oregon and down to the California.

    The other option is head due west out of Denver across southern Utah to St. George, then across the Great Basin of Nevada to the Sierra Nevadas and into central California.
    Personally, I think that Utah-12 across southern Utah is one of the world's great motorcycle roads and that both Capital Reef National Park and Zion National Park are incredible places to drive through. Thus I'd recommend heading due west, then circle back on a more southern route that goes around the Grand Canyon/Lake Powell then up through southern Colorado to return to Denver.

    If you're making this trip in July and August, then completely disregard that suggestion and take the northern route instead. Riding through Utah and Arizona in the middle of summer is sheer madness...

    -- Alan

    DADODIRT Long timer Supporter

    Jun 25, 2004
    Durango,CO(closer to Purgatory)
    West and South. It doesn't get any better than SW Colorado and SE Utah!