Saturday, June 5th – Grand Junction, CO to Denver, CO
After breakfast, John and I headed east on I-70. Our first destination was Glenwood Springs, Colorado, 85 miles eastward, where a huge boulder came crashing down during the winter and destroyed both lanes of I-70. The damaged section of the interstate has only recent been reopened (and is reportedly still one-lane traffic through that section). It was a pleasant ride as we followed I-70 as it wound its way alongside the Colorado River.
After a fill-up in Glenwood Springs, we headed south on CO 82 toward Aspen. The mountainsides were quickly filled with Firs, and later Aspens, as we gained altitude. As we approached Aspen, I could understand its popularity ‑ the area is beautiful. Aspen itself is a very developed and picturesque area, with very little of the urban "clutter" you normally see in cities (i.e., no McDonalds', very discrete gas stations, and such). Aspen is also filled with a lot of very expensive real estate ‑ enough said.
After a very brief stop in Aspen, we began the climb up the road to head up and over Independence Pass. We stopped a few times on our way up to the pass to take photos.
Independence Pass was still closed when we began our trip to Utah and did not open until Memorial Day weekend. I think this picture will explain why.
After enjoying the cool, 58 degree weather at the top of Independence Pass, we headed down the switchbacks on the east side, stopping later to look back toward where we had just ridden from.
We continued our ride, stopping in Buena Vista for lunch, before heading northward on CO 285 toward Fairplay. We rode through a gorgeous high plains valley (the valley was at approximately 9,000 feet) with the Rocky Mountains all around us. At the north end, we paused again to take a few pictures.
The remainder of the ride home took us through more great mountain roads and scenery. We arrived back at John and Betsy's house around 4 p.m. It was time for a shower, drinks, and grilling out.