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Old 06-11-08, 06:40 PM   #1
spiritrider
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bike route from Grand Junction to Denver

My husband and I are going to cycle from the Colorado/Utah border, through Grand Junction to Denver. Can someone offer help with how to get around the Eisenhower Tunnel? Are there spots where we can cycle on the I-70?

I've checked the online Colorado Dept of Transportation cycling map, but it is unclear what to do in some spots.

Thanks for any help you can offer.
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Old 06-11-08, 07:26 PM   #2
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Getting around the tunnel is easy, as long as you don't mind the climb. You go over route 6, Loveland pass. You can cycle on I-70 outside of urban areas such as Denver. It isn't pleasant though. I think it will be your only choice from Loveland pass until Georgetown or so. Take a look at the route for the Triple Bypass ride and you will see the area they need to ride on I-70. After a point, you can get on the access roads along the highway and once you get to route 40, you can go to Golden and into Denver from there. I haven't found a good route from Golden to Denver yet though.
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Old 06-11-08, 08:08 PM   #3
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Like dark13star said, follow US 6 over Loveland Pass. It's a significant climb, topping out at 11,990 ft. The tunnel is at 11,150, though, so you're not missing much. Loveland Pass is used by oversized vehicles and HazMat haulers that aren't allowed/can't fit in the Eisenhower. This is good because the road is kept in good shape and has a good shoulder, it's bad because there are a lot of big trucks on it (d'oh!). On the east side, you follow I-70 from around Loveland Ski Area to Bakerville (exit 218), then leave the Interstate and follow US 6 to Silver Plume. Somewhere east of Silver Plume you pick up a bike path that parallels I-70 down Georgetown Hill into Georgetown. From Georgetown you follow a combination of US 6, bike paths, and maybe some back roads to where I-70 starts up Floyd Hill (exit 244, there's a roadhouse called Kermit's there). From there take US 40 which follows I-70 up to Floyd Hill and down Vernon Canyon into the Wheat Ridge/Golden area. You might have to use the shoulder of I-70 for a short while here.

The sections where you ride on I-70 have good shoulders with a rumble strip between you and traffic, so it's safe but no fun.

If you've got lots of time, strong legs and a real sense of adventure, you could head south from Frisco through Breckenridge, and take Hoosier Pass, Red Hill Pass, Kenosha Pass and Guanella Pass (which is a steep dirt road) and end up in Georgetown that way .
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Old 06-11-08, 09:03 PM   #4
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WHEN are you planning to do this?
right now there is flooding on the trail between dotsero and glenwood springs meaning you would need
to head south into aspen and go over the independence pass

the bicycle colorado site states the trail between idaho springs and floyd hill will be closed until "mid-summer"
I just got an email confirming the trail is still closed dont have a clue what midsummer is

meaning until then at Idaho spings you need to go up to echo lake take squaw pass to bergen park
ie you will basically need to follow the triple by pass route backwards (you could skip swan mtn) assuming
the flooding stops and you can get to dotsero
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Old 06-11-08, 09:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by markf View Post

If you've got lots of time, strong legs and a real sense of adventure, you could head south from Frisco through Breckenridge, and take Hoosier Pass, Red Hill Pass, Kenosha Pass and Guanella Pass (which is a steep dirt road) and end up in Georgetown that way .
Come to think of it, that is what I would do, but not coming back to the I-70 corridor over Guanella Pass. They could just come in on 285 or even cut off some of it and come down Deer Creek Canyon to the Platte River Trail. This would solve the Idaho Springs trail problem as well and avoid riding on I-70.

Frankly, there are probably much better way to cross the state on a bicycle than the I-70 corridor anyway. I would read up on past routes for Ride the Rockies. This year's route covers some of the roads mentioned above.
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Old 06-11-08, 10:20 PM   #6
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Getting around the tunnel is easy, as long as you don't mind the climb. You go over route 6, Loveland pass. You can cycle on I-70 outside of urban areas such as Denver. It isn't pleasant though. I think it will be your only choice from Loveland pass until Georgetown or so. Take a look at the route for the Triple Bypass ride and you will see the area they need to ride on I-70. After a point, you can get on the access roads along the highway and once you get to route 40, you can go to Golden and into Denver from there. I haven't found a good route from Golden to Denver yet though.
Thanks, I'll check the Triple Bypass ride route.
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Old 06-11-08, 10:22 PM   #7
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Like dark13star said, follow US 6 over Loveland Pass. It's a significant climb, topping out at 11,990 ft. The tunnel is at 11,150, though, so you're not missing much. Loveland Pass is used by oversized vehicles and HazMat haulers that aren't allowed/can't fit in the Eisenhower. This is good because the road is kept in good shape and has a good shoulder, it's bad because there are a lot of big trucks on it (d'oh!). On the east side, you follow I-70 from around Loveland Ski Area to Bakerville (exit 218), then leave the Interstate and follow US 6 to Silver Plume. Somewhere east of Silver Plume you pick up a bike path that parallels I-70 down Georgetown Hill into Georgetown. From Georgetown you follow a combination of US 6, bike paths, and maybe some back roads to where I-70 starts up Floyd Hill (exit 244, there's a roadhouse called Kermit's there). From there take US 40 which follows I-70 up to Floyd Hill and down Vernon Canyon into the Wheat Ridge/Golden area. You might have to use the shoulder of I-70 for a short while here.

The sections where you ride on I-70 have good shoulders with a rumble strip between you and traffic, so it's safe but no fun.

If you've got lots of time, strong legs and a real sense of adventure, you could head south from Frisco through Breckenridge, and take Hoosier Pass, Red Hill Pass, Kenosha Pass and Guanella Pass (which is a steep dirt road) and end up in Georgetown that way .
I'll see if I can find this route on the Colorado Dept of Transportation cycle map. We just completed a ride across Utah - LOTs of climbing there, but the passes topped at 9000 ft, so Colorado presents more challenge for two California flatlanders.
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Old 06-11-08, 10:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by colorado dale View Post
WHEN are you planning to do this?
right now there is flooding on the trail between dotsero and glenwood springs meaning you would need
to head south into aspen and go over the independence pass

the bicycle colorado site states the trail between idaho springs and floyd hill will be closed until "mid-summer"
I just got an email confirming the trail is still closed dont have a clue what midsummer is

meaning until then at Idaho spings you need to go up to echo lake take squaw pass to bergen park
ie you will basically need to follow the triple by pass route backwards (you could skip swan mtn) assuming
the flooding stops and you can get to dotsero
We'll being in mid-August. Are you talking about mountain bike trails or roadbike routes?

I'll look for the Triple-Bypass route. Thanks.
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Old 06-12-08, 05:17 AM   #9
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Last time I drove Guanella Pass, the side from Grant to the pass was no longer maintained, and Park County had signs they were abandoning the road. This was about 3 years back,. and things may have changed, but it was nearly impassible by car - large holes in the road, unremoved rocks, etc. I would think it would be a real challenge for a road bike, tourer or anything but a mtn bike.

OK - I found this update. Looks like you would be bicycling right in the middle of a major reconstruction project, with the worst part of the road not sceduled for completion of reconstruction until the fall of 2012:

Guanella Pass Road

PROJECT INFORMATION SHEET

2007



Project Summary

The Guanella Pass Road connects the communities of Grant, on the south, and Georgetown, on the north. The road is 23.7 miles in length and passes through the Pike-San Isabel and Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forests. The road is used primarily for recreational traffic. The current reconstruction project called Phase 1 is 8.8 miles in length, beginning 9.3 miles north of Grant and ending 5.6 miles south of Georgetown, at the Xcel power plant. The construction cost of the project is $20.1 million. The purpose of the project is to provide a road that will serve the existing and future traffic in a manner that is conducive to safety, durability, and economy of maintenance.

Current Road Condition

Guanella Pass Road has been in very bad shape for many years with potholes, washboards, and ruts. In many areas the gravel surface is worn down to native soil and has large protruding rocks. Maintaining the road is a considerable expense to Park and Clear Creek Counties. As a result of the roadway’s poor condition it is causing environmental damage because of dust and inadequate drainage and erosion control.

Reconstructed Road

The plans for this project were developed by the Federal Highway Administration, in cooperation with the Forest Service, Park County, and Clear Creek County, after listening to the public for over 15 years. Six alternatives were considered, and the selected alternative minimizes full reconstruction yet improves safety, enhances the environment, and reduces maintenance, all in support of the purpose and need of the project. The project consists of 19 percent full reconstruction, 18 percent light reconstruction, and 63 percent rehabilitation. The amount of pavement on the road will increase by only 8 percent, largely in areas of very steep grades. The new road closely follows the existing alignment in order to minimize impacts, and includes extensive use of retaining walls. Existing culverts at stream crossings have been replaced by open-bottom structures that restore the natural stream channel. The project will help the Forest Service manage recreation on the pass by formalizing parking areas and pullouts, eliminating existing informal parking areas and pullouts, providing winter closure parking, and creating formal parking for dispersed camping.

Project Schedule

Phase 1 is planned for completion in August 2007. Phase 2 consists of the roadway from the Cabin Creek Hydro Electric Plant to Georgetown and is expected to begin construction in September 2007 and finish during the fall of 2009. The final section of Phase 3 from Grant to Shelf Road is anticipated to begin construction in early 2010 and be finished in the fall of 2012.

Safety and Traffic Control

As with all heavy construction work, safety is a primary concern during the reconstruction of the Guanella Pass Road. Please obey all traffic control signs and construction zone flaggers. There is no stopping or parking in any active construction area. Due to the nature of the work, and the very limited construction right-of-way, traffic delays of up to 30 minutes may be required during the week. And, at times the road may be closed to all traffic from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. However the road will be open on weekends, without construction delays, from 6:00 p.m. on Friday to 11:00 p.m. on Sunday and on National holidays.

Questions

The construction of Guanella Pass Road is under the direction of the Federal Highway Administration and more information can be found at www.cflhd.gov under Projects Under Construction. The project office is currently located in Georgetown, CO and the office number is 303-569-2378. The project staff is as follows:

Brian Dobling Jim Kerrigan
Project Engineer Assistant Project Engineer

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Old 06-12-08, 07:48 AM   #10
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spiritrider, can you use a GPX file from my Garmin bike computer? It can be imported into MapMyRide and maybe some other online programs. If so, I have the triple bypass and another route that I did with the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club, which you can use to connect Idaho Springs to Golden, and thus get out if the I-70 corridor. The other route follows Flyod Hill, which is what markf describes above.

The I-70 portion (in the Eisenhower to Denver stretch) is just one or two exits right after Loveland pass, and then another one exit in the Evergreen area. In the direction you are heading, you aren't on the freeway long, it's downhill, and there is a giant shoulder.

If you want those files, please say so here, PM me with your real email address, and I will send.
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Old 06-18-08, 12:02 PM   #11
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This is what I've done by bike, see what you think:

Grand Junction, south on 50 to Delta, Delta to Paonia, McClure pass to Carbondale on 133. Carbondale to Aspen, Independence Pass to Leadville. Leadville to Frisco on 91. Frisco, Loveland Pass to Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Evergreen to Denver. Very pretty ride, at least to Loveland Pass, then it's a bit dicey.
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Old 01-23-11, 11:53 PM   #12
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Resurrecting this old thead because I'm interested in the route just mentioned...

I'm a newbie looking for a route from Grand Junction to Glenwood Springs (both amtrak baggage stops) in early April. I've done a metric century and camped by mtn bike a few times.

I was looking into the 50-92-133/Delta-Paonia-Carbondale route myself, but found a couple of folks saying Delta-Hotchkiss on 92 is to be avoided (high traffic, no shoulders). There are mentions of a parallel back road. Anyone know what that is? How are traffic & shoulders on the rest of the 92-133 piece? Is this route feasible in early April, or will the pass still be too snowy? Are there ways to avoid the noisy route 50, and if so, would they be safe or would we be better off with the noise and wide shoulders?

Thanks for any & all information.
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Old 01-24-11, 12:59 PM   #13
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I rode 92 from Delta-Hotchkiss several years ago on a touring bike and it was quite bad (no shoulder, heavy traffic). Not sure if they have improved that road since then. There may be some parallel routes on rural roads to the south of 92. Some may be gravel. After Hotchkiss, 92is quite nice, much less traffic, but hilly. 92 goes over the shoulder of the West Elk Mtns and it may still be cold and snowy in early April. We went to Blue Mesa Reservior and to Hwy 50 on that route. I'm not sure of the route to Carbondale.

Early April can be dodgy weather even at lower elevations around here. Last year in early April we tried to do a bike tour out of Grand Junction, through Paradox Valley on to southern Utah. We had 4 weeks planned. We encountered fierce headwinds and snowstorms and bailed out by Monticello, UT and called for a ride home after a week.
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Old 01-27-11, 09:29 PM   #14
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I haven't ridden it, but I have driven over McClure Pass (which is the main one you would cross on the route described) in all seasons.....and in April it could be very inhospitable. It's not that it's outrageously high in altitude by most Colorado pass standards, but on the east side there are some areas where rock/snow slides can wreak havoc on what is already a narrow shoulder. Ostensibly, it is still winter in April at that elevation, but if there is any melting going on at all during the previous hours of your arrival......it can really be icy in that same stretch as well (basically the first couple of miles after your turn south almost immediately as you start down the eastern half).

Also, there is not a practicable route that effectively parallels that highway (133). The only route that comes close is a combination of state highway 65 to state highway 330.....followed by a network of gravel roads which will take you to the town of Silt. From there you could take US 6 into Glenwood Springs. I have driven that and it's beautiful (esp. in the fall), but very remote and rugged.....and I couldn't tell you whether the gravel parts would be snow free in early April. That route would also be contingent on your ability to find a frontage road or something along I-70 for a few miles northeast of Palisade before you get to the turn for 65.

So my suggestion if you really want to go from Grand Jct. to Glenwood, take 62 and 133 (yes, some narrow shoulders....but I don't know what people are considering "heavy" traffic----compared to what?), just go later in the spring, summer, or even better....early fall. The foliage on McClure Pass is some of the best in the state (or if you really want to blow your mind, take a small detour and ride a few miles up Kebler Pass Road just past Paonia.....there is a view of the West Elks that is simply astonishing in the first week of October). The weather is usually stable that time of year too (though it can always snow up on the pass).
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Old 01-27-11, 10:31 PM   #15
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I guess I'll chime in since I have ridden all those roads - McClure, 92 between Delta and Hotchkiss & the back roads between Eckert/Orchard City & Hotchkiss.

92 does have heavy traffic. It was under construction when I did it (Westbound), and that may have actually made it better, because there was a pilot car and the cars had to go really slow. I would avoid it if possible, but would do it again if I needed to. The part near Hotchkiss was the worst, actually, because there was no shoulder - farther west, there was a bit more shoulder.

The back road was quite nice, I came over Grand Mesa to Orchard City, then figured out the back road by looking at a county-level AAA map and talking to the lady at the chocolate shop. Looking at Google Maps, I think it was Road N to Road 300, but I'm not 100% sure. It was quite hilly, somewhat scenic in a farm-road kind of way, and traffic free. It would be worth the extra miles to go that way. It looks like you could find a way off of the 92 farther west, but I didn't come from that way so I don't know. In summer I would totally recommend this route, Grand Mesa is a huge climb (I like that sort of thing, you may not), but it is way too high in April, there's very minimal (no?) chance of good conditions.

Also, early April is no time to be riding McClure. I have ridden it, in both directions, and it's quite pleasant - but you could easily get snow that time of year. Save it for Late May-September.

Honestly, I think you would be better served saving your touring for another time of year, and a better selection of locations - that time/location just isn't a winning combo, and those roads are probably not what I would recommend for a newbie to Colorado touring - there are just so many nicer places to go with less traffic issues.

If you are in Boulder (I think you are from your post elsewhere), I'd be happy to sit down with your map of Colorado and a highlighter with you some time and talk you through some options. PM me.

As to ccd rider's suggestion about Hwy 330, I think that's a good one to look into. I haven't ridden 330, but I did ride past it on my way up to Grand Mesa, and it looked intriguing. I have no idea about the gravel road part at the east end. I suspect you would find yourself riding I-70 from New Castle to Glenwood - a rather long way. On the west side, there is no frontage road from Palisade to 65, you have to ride I-70 (I've done it twice, it's kind of yuck, but do-able).
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Old 02-01-11, 08:37 AM   #16
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Riding the shoulder of I-70 from Palisade to CO 65 is no biggie. If you don't want to pedal over the Grand Mesa to Delta/Paonia/Hotchkiss and up over McClure Pass and through Redsone, you can ride paved through Collbran on CO 330 to Peninsula Road and descend some improved dirt road back to paved on your way down to Silt. From Silt it's an easy trip to Glenwood on paved Frontage roads. Personally, I'd just cut through Debeque Canyon on the bike path/shoulder to DeBeque.

BTW, 330 aka Peninsula Rd is not really "gravel". It's improved dirt and often quite smooth. I've driven it a bunch and ridden it a few times on fat tires.

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Old 02-01-11, 09:13 AM   #17
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"you can ride paved through Collbran on CO 330 to Peninsula Road and descend some improved dirt road back to paved on your way down to Silt."

The last I knew there are LOTS of oil field big truck traffic on the dirt road from east of Collbran to Silt, so the road is pretty beat up. An alternative would be to ride Hwy 65 to the Debeque cut off road (45.5 Road), which is just before the turn to Collbran. This is a paved road that takes you right into Debeque, bypassing Debeque Canyon. It's a rolling road, and quite a nice ride but there is some truck traffic so you can't zone out too much.
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Old 02-01-11, 03:45 PM   #18
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I never rode the Debeque cut-off, but drove it a lot. It's narrow, twisty and has no shoulder, IIRC. Again, I'd rather ride the I-70 shoulder/bike path from Palisade to Debeque anyways.

It's been about seven years since I rode Peninsula Road and the energy company traffic beating it up nowdays does not surprise me.
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