Big Thompson Canyon
Notice: Due to severe flooding in September, US 34 up the Big Thompson is closed. Repairs are expected to take months. You can still get to Estes Park via either Trail Ridge Road (before it closes for the winter) or the Peak-to-Peak Highway.
Update: This road has now reopened, effective Nov. 21, 2013. All the other canyon roads into the mountains have reopened as well.
The direct route between Estes Park and Loveland takes you on US 34 through Big Thompson Canyon. This spectacular canyon has a history. In 1976, after a week of rain saturated the ground, a huge storm up around Estes Park unleashed a flood that killed more than 100 people and totally destroyed much of the road. Particularly at the lower end of the canyon, the road has been rebuilt much higher than before, with reinforcing to enable it to withstand high, raging water in the future. There are numerous motels along this route but no campgrounds.
Riders looking for a bit of challenge might want to take the back road between Drake and Estes Park, along Colorado 43. One switchback in particular has a 10 percent grade and is not for the faint-hearted or novice motorcyclist.
These photos are from various points along Big Thompson Canyon:
Click on thumbnail for larger image; arrow through photos; click large image to close.