Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wyoming: Battle Pass and Snowy Range Pass

I look at maps and I see squiggly lines representing roads, then one by one I want to ride these roads and see what they are all about. With the fall season in full swing and winter just around the corner, even though some of the mountain roads are still open for another few weeks, the riding conditions may not be favorable at higher elevations.

The weather has been great with temps in the 70’s all week. I wanted to take a chance and head up to so some of the passes in Wyoming. I checked the Wyoming website for road conditions and the roads were dry. The two roads I wanted to ride would be closing soon and wouldn’t be reopening until late May so it was ride them now or wait until next year.

Our 340 miles route included a ride up to Battle Pass and though Snowy Range Pass

With another beautiful day upon us and temps in the 70’s we headed north out of Fort Collins on 287. It was a windy day and the wind was really blowing on 287. The route I had planned for today was 340 miles long. The plan was to ride WY 230, then ride WY 70 up to Battle Pass, turn around and head toward WY 130, and continue past Snowy Range Pass until reaching Laramie and then head home.

We left an hour late then we wanted to, about 11AM so we already knew there wouldn’t be too many stops on today’s ride.

230 was a long, long road. Most of it was rather straight running through vast open spaces, there would be a hill or two here and there and some curves, some elevation changes and a portion running through the forest. A nice and relaxing road with little traffic, although the wind didn’t let me relax too much. We saw some pronghorn in the distance and a fox crossed the road in front of the bike.

We passed through Riverside, then turned on 70 and rode through Encampment, both very small towns. As we started to climb Wyoming Highway 70 into the Sierra Madre Mountains through the Medicine Bow National Forest I had to stop and finally put on my Gerbing heated liner which was still in my tank bag. This was the first stop since Laramie.

Approaching Sierra Madre Mountains

70 also known as the Battle Highway. The road climbs to 9,955 feet in elevation at Battle Pass. There was lots of snow on the side of the road here but none on the road. We took a short break here for pictures and to play in the snow. This road was nice, very nice, the curves were delightful and so were the views.

Parked at Battle Pass on highway 70

There is a snow ball heading towards me, if you look close you can see it right next to Mike's hand - he missed

He got me with this one since I was closer

Heading back down from the pass toward Encampment, WY

We headed back down the mountain and stopped in Riverside to get gas. Not to many gas stations around here. We gassed up in Laramie, then noting until the station here at the intersection of 230 and 70. From here there wouldn’t be another gas station until past the Snowy Range Pass in Centennial. We were pretty hungry at this point and decided to eat the sandwiches we brought with. We wanted to stop and have our lunch at the top of Battle Pass but it was too cold and windy up there. Here at Riverside it was in the 60’s degrees and less windy.
After lunch we took off toward the scenic byway Wyoming Highway 130 which is also known locally as the Snowy Range Road. From the east it travels across the plains then climbs over the Medicine Bow Mountains. 130 is one of the shortest of Wyoming’s scenic byways, both in the number of miles and in the number of months that it’s open to traffic. At Snowy Range Pass the road climbs to 10, 847 feet in elevation.

At lower elevations on 70 heading toward Encampment, WY

Gas stop in Riverside, WY

This was also our lunch stop, we had some home made sandwiches, cookies and water with us, no need to eat out

Even though I planned the route to hit the lower of the passes first, which was Battle Pass on 70, allowing all day for any ice to melt on 130 at Snowy Range Pass, the road still had a bit of ice and snow on it in some places. Nothing major, but I did keep my eyes on the road, slowed down and watched my back tire loose traction just a tiny bit on two occasions. Not to scary, but enough to keep watching the road.

Mike on highway 130

This road was truly scenic. The curves and views were beautiful. I couldn’t wait to stop and take some pictures, so I stopped at the first frozen lake realizing just after I stopped that it was getting late now and we really couldn’t afford to stop anymore.
I climbed up the pass and was told later that I totally rode past Mike, who was parked at one of the scenic pull outs. I must have been looking at something else. Apparently this scenic spot had spectacular views and Mike didn’t have a camera.

A frozen lake on highway 130

It was very hard not to stop for pictures on this road. I was passing by beautiful lakes with mountain backdrops, scenic pullouts fro which you could see down the mountain and into the distance. I had unplugged my Gerbing the first time I stopped since when I plan on stopping a lot for pictures I don’t like to be plugged into the bike and having to unplug the Gerbing cable at each stop, so toward the end of the twisties I stopped one last time and got the cable out for my Gerbing and plugged it in. It was getting chilly riding without heat.

Medicine Bow Mountains

Scenic Wyoming byway 130

Since I didn’t know that Mike had pulled over I though he was still in front of me so once down the mountain I stated to head toward Laramie to catch him, then 15 minutes later I see his headlight in my mirror. We headed back to Fort Collins and arrived just before it was totally dark.

The ride on 230 was OK, I don’t expect to ride that road too much in the future now that I’ve seen it. I did like riding up to Battle Pass, the road and curves were fun. But 130 through Snowy Range Pass was definitely the highlight of this ride. There are so many opportunities for pictures on 130 and so much nice scenery and great curves, I was a bit bummed that we ran out of time and couldn’t really stop. It’s too late in the year to go back up there with the bike, maybe we’ll have to drive up there before the road closes. Either way this road is definitely on my list to ride when it opens back up late May next year.

1 comment:

Mike said...

SO AWESOME you're in Colorado, what gorgeous rides and so many of them...thanks for the photos. Enjoy winter.