August, 1994

Clayton NM
Ft Morgan

A six-day ride through Colorado (mostly).



I headed straight west from Wichita on US-54 and US-56 through Liberal, Kansas and then on through the panhandle of Oklahoma to Clayton, New Mexico, where I spent that night in a small mom-and-pop motel.

New Mexico

I stayed on US-56--the "major" highway--for about 30 miles, and then turned south on NM-120 through the town of Yates. Actually Yates is shown on many maps, but it doesn't really exist. The building (photo, below) looked to be a one-time combination barn and house and was quite well built of stone.  It'll be here many years to come (or at least the walls will). Note the total lack of any fences.

I love the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.

Staying on NM-120, I crossed the Canadian River Gorge and rode into the small town of Wagon Mound on I-25. Not far south of here is Fort Union.

The fort was used off and on throughout the last century as an important army support base for the Santa Fe Trail.

The photo, below, shows some of the remains of the many buildings that were once there. The flagstone sidewalks have held up much better than the old adobe walls.

I headed West on NM-161 through the villages of Cueva and Mora, where I stopped for one of the better meals of the trip. Delicious Mexican food.

I followed NM-3 northwest to Taos (hitting the only rain during the trip--nothing too bad). I've been through Taos several times, and it only gets more crowded with each visit. I didn't stop (if I could, I'd have bypassed this place).

I picked up US-64 and stopped at the Rio Grande River crossing.

The road to Chama, New Mexico is wonderful. One of the best in northern New Mexico, and that says a lot.

At Chama I stopped for the night and spent the evening down at the tracks watching the trains.

This happens to be the longest and highest narrow gauge steam railroad in the country. It actually operated as a working (revenue producing) railroad until quite recently, but these days it only hauls people with cameras.

From Chama I stayed on US-64 (then -84) through Pagosa Springs, Colorado and on into Durango.


Durango contains the other remnant of the narrow gauge system (D&RG) that once was connected with the line at Chama. The Durango & Silverton excursion is very popular--someday I'll ride it.


I headed north on US-550 (the so-called million dollar highway) to Silverton where I watched the trains and the (mostly) German-speaking tourists. The train heads right into Silverton, and turns around by doing a 3-point turn over a Y-connection.

The road from Durango to Silverton is often listed as one of the best roads in America. A well deserved reputation.

From Durango I stayed north on US-550 through Montrose and into Grand Junction, Colorado. It was near 100 degrees, so getting rather uncomfortable.

The whole point of this particular leg (over otherwise well-traveled roads) was so I could ride highway CO-139 from Lorna to Rangely--one of the roads in Colorado I'd never been on before.

Douglas Pass.

There were, perhaps, only five cars along the entire route--a fun ride.

Off way in the distance is the Grand Mesa (not to be confused with Mesa Verde).

At Rangely (a depressingly down-at-the heels town) I turned right and headed into Meeker (a much more pleasant town) where I had the second-best meal of the trip (maybe the best) and spent the night. 

The next morning I went to the opening trials of the National Sheep Dog Competition. The photo, below, shows the judging tent (which was full of Scottish accents).  Just to the left of the fireplug (not likely to be real) is a pig-trough with a dog in it. The dogs all seemed to expect this cool bath, and each would look for it after their effort.

A dog moving his sheep right along.

They had a complex series of tasks to complete. The handler was required to stand at his post during the entire operation (except when he opened the gate to the corral and had the dog put the sheep in). In the photo, below, the sheep just aren't cooperating--they're supposed to be in the corral by this time. The dog was doing the best he could, but, sometimes the sheep are just too stupid.

From Meeker I headed East on US-40 through Steamboat Springs. It's a very nice town, but I don't see how the people who work there can afford to live there. Perhaps they can't. I had lunch in a restaurant full of so-very-stylish people. Most of the cars in the lot were German (does an Italian motorcycle count?). I stopped along the Colorado River near Granby for a couple of pictures.

At Granby I headed north into Rocky Mountain National Park--the highest paved continuous road (dead-end roads such as Mt. Evans don't count) in the United States. The stream at the bottom of the valley is the headwater of the Colorado River--we're looking south-southeast.

Near the summit (well over 12,000 feet)...

...and, at the visitor center.

A really spectacular place. Oddly, only a few German-speakers this time, but lots of Japanese. From the Park I headed on down the hill and across the Great Plains to Ft. Morgan, Colorado where I had the worst meal of the trip, and spent the night.


From Ft. Morgan I stayed on US-34 on east across Nebraska. This was another road I'd never been on before.

Truly in the middle of nowhere, I stopped at a monument that noted a battle between the Pawnee and the Kiowa Indians (around 1870). The result of the battle was that the Pawnee were wiped out, and the Kiowa were then sent to a reservation. Pointless.

I spent the last half of the day at he Minden Museum. I've been through this place countless times--always worthwhile.

That night was in Russell (you're in Bob Dole Country!) Kansas.


The next day, I rode on home.

About 2,000 miles.


last edit: 4/20/2008