Riding a motorcycle in Colorado is an exhilarating experience, especially in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. Here, you can take your pick of high mountain peaks, rolling plains, urban landscapes and any other terrain you can think of. However, riding in Colorado can be a quite a change for visitors from lower altitudes and flatter states — or new riders who are just starting out. We’ve asked our favorite motorcycle friends and family to help us put together some helpful Colorado motorcycle riding tips, cool local rides and more. Let’s head out on the highway!
Cool Pikes Peak Region Motorcycle Rides
Obviously, there are hundreds of miles of gorgeous roads you can travel via motorcycle. We’ve picked a few of our favorites for you with the criteria of great scenery, a place to stop for food and something cool to do when you reach your destination.
Royal Gorge Ride (60 miles south of Colorado Springs): While you can take I-25 to US-50, we recommend the scenic route via CO-115. There are lots of curves and stunning mountains. Stop off in Beaver Creek Wildlife Area on the way. When you get to Royal Gorge, you can stop off for a burger and a beer, park and stretch your legs across the bridge and then find other roads to explore, if you like.
Cripple Creek Run (50 miles west of Colorado Springs): Take Highway 24 west of Colorado Springs to Divide, then turn left on CO-67. You’ll be able to stop in Woodland Park for a breather before cruising to Cripple Creek, where you can tour the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine or ride the Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Pike Peak Highway (15 miles west of Colorado Springs, plus miles up the peak): The Pikes Peak Highway has been a favorite of those who love to drive for as long as we’ve had motorized vehicles. Every curve of the 19 miles highway offers a better view than the last. We recommend you take a detour through Manitou Springs on the way up (or down). And be sure you bring some extra layers, the temperature will drop by 30-40 degrees by the time you get to the summit.
Colorado Motorcycle Road Hazards
One of the things we are asked about most, is what to expect when riding a motorcycle here in Colorado Springs. We’ve made a shortlist of common hazards to watch out for on your motorcycle.
Colorado’s weather changes in rapid cycles. You could very well set out on a lovely warm summer ride in the morning … and come home in a hailstorm that, as one rider put it, “feels like getting a face tattoo except harder, and way colder.” What does that mean for you, dear motorcycle rider? Always bring rain gear and warm clothing in your saddlebags or backpack. P.S. It can snow in July in higher altitudes.
Your motorcycle is a combustion engine-powered vehicle. That means at higher altitudes, like the Pikes Peak Highway or the route to Cripple Creek, your bike is going to dog a bit. Don’t be surprised and don’t freak out, there’s just not a lot of air up in the mountains. It happens to carbureted bikes and fuel-injected bikes and all brands. The only bike it’s not going to happen to is an electric one. If that’s not enough, it’s colder the higher up you go and the weather is even more shifty.
One hazard that is a very Colorado sort of problem is the enormous amount of loose gravel on the roads. Our plows dump sand, not salt, which means that — even in the summer — there’s a lot of grit on the road. Watch your turns and watch your stops, because you could find yourself dumping your bike in an intersection if you don’t. The roads also get slick when it rains and can flood when it hails. And, final note on roads, it can be miles between protective underpasses if you get trapped in one of those storms. Watch your back (and your weather app!)
Colorado’s deer, elk, antelope and even our raccoons are enormous. Hitting them is not going to be a good time. Ever seen a car after it’s hit a large buck on the highway? You’re not in a car. You’re going to be pretty sad. Take care when riding at dawn and at dusk, the prime time for larger animals to be roaming — and leaping across — the highways.
This is not a uniquely Colorado problem. You’re just as oddly invisible to car drivers here in the Pikes Peak region as you are in virtually every location in the United States except maybe Sturgis in August and Daytona in March. Loud pipes help only slightly. It’s on you to be very vigilant about other drivers and not to make careless mistakes. Use your headlight and make sure you have a horn of some sort, even if it’s an air horn.
Final Tips on Motorcycle Rides in Colorado
The key to really loving your ride is preparation. In closing, here are some of the recommended items we’ve had other motorcycle riders share for rides of varying lengths:
- Warm clothing
- Rain gear
- Sunscreen (you burn fast at high altitudes)
- Towel (for drying off if you’re caught by the rain)
- Gloves (for ANY weather)
- Bandana (if you don’t wear a helmet, your head will burn)
- Face shield (or use your bandana)
- Night-driving glasses
The only predictable thing about Colorado’s weather/wildlife/drivers/road conditions is that they are decidedly unpredictable. However, as a fan of two-wheeled adventures on the open road, we think you’re up to the challenge.