Tourist Attractions for Colorado Motorcycle Touring
You might be coming to Colorado primarily to ride your motorcycle on these spectacular passes and canyons but as long as you’re here there are plenty of tourist attractions worth checking out. We’ll point out the world-famous ones as well as some that non-Coloradoans have probably never heard of.
Alferd Packer Massacre Site – Six prospectors were caught in a blizzard with no food. Only one survived. What did he eat?
Argo Gold Mine and Mill – The gold rush came to Colorado and all that ore needed to be milled. A lot of that happened here, in Idaho Springs. The Argo Tunnel also reached all the way to Central City. You can’t miss this sprawling red structure when you pass through Idaho Springs.
Bent’s Old Fort – This reconstructed fur trading post and fort is just east of La Junta on CO 194, which runs parallel to US 50 on the other side of the river. I had been there 25 years ago and there wasn’t much to it but they’ve done a lot in 25 years and it’s well worth a stop.
Bishop Castle – Unique is hardly the word. This medieval castle has a fire-breathing dragon and you can climb all over it. Check it out; it’s worth it. You’ll find it along CO 165, northwest of Rye and Colorado City. This is all a little southwest of Pueblo. Here’s what Jim Bishop has to say about his creation: “High in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of southern Colorado there stands one of the most genuine Wonders of our contemporary World. Built entirely with the two hands of ONE MAN with the support of God and a loving family, the BISHOP CASTLE is living testiment to what a poor man can accomplish in a free country armed with his dreams and the determination to make them real.”
Black Canyon of the Gunnison – Colorado’s version of the Grand Canyon, in black, with a spectacular road running down to the river at the bottom and another at the top along the rim.
Cano's Castle – This is a funky one like Bishop Castle, above, only this one is beer can folk art. Bishop Castle is worth going out of your way for, this one is worth a stop if you're passing through Antonito anyway.
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad – The longest and highest narrow-gauge steam railroad in the U.S. runs between Antonito, CO, and Chama, NM.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – This narrow gauge railroad has been running continuously between the two towns for 125 years.
Four Corners – Located where the corners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah all come together, the Four Corners area is truly in the middle of nowhere. It’s the only place where you can stand in four states at the same time.
Garden of the Gods – This city park in Colorado Springs offers towering sandstone rock formations set against a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.
Georgetown Loop Railroad – Running between Georgetown and Silver Plume, this steam-engine-powered train traverses the loop that gives it its name. It’s open daily between late May and early October.
Glenwood Canyon – Probably one of the most scenic stretches of road in the U.S. and one of the last pieces of interstate highway to be completed. This is not a coincidence. Environmental concerns delayed construction and forced it to be a design marvel. Note: Repair work on one of the tunnels will close the west-bound lanes all summer in 2007, forcing all traffic into one lane each direction through that area. Expect delays and slow-moving traffic, but that gives you a better opportunity to get a good look.
Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Lodge – The largest naturally heated outside swimming pool in the world. A great place to relax after a day’s ride.
Great Sand Dunes National Park – What happens when a strong, prevailing wind blows in the same direction for eons, up against a stone blockade. This is the answer.
Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad – This 2.5-hour steam engine train ride runs from Leadville once or twice a day, depending on the season. The route heads up to the Continental Divide and then back. A variety of special rides are available, including a Photo Special when the fall colors are at their peak, and a Wildflower Special when they are peaking.
Mesa Verde National Park – Some of the best-preserved remnants of the long-gone Anasazi Indians.
Mount Evans – The highest paved automobile road in the United States takes you to the top of Mount Evans, a 14,264-foot peak in Clear Creek County. Don’t miss this one, and dress warmly, even in July and August. The most direct route is from Idaho Springs.
National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum – Leadville is pretty much the mining center of Colorado so it stands to reason that this museum is located here. This is a terrific place and well worth a few hours. Exhibits show different mining techniques and equipment, discuss its history, and demonstrate how many of the things we take for granted come from mines. Additionally, the Hall of Fame is pretty fascinating. Reading about some of the folks memorialized here and what they did to earn their place leaves you saying “Wow!”
Pike’s Peak – Pike’s Peak is reputedly the “most-visited mountain in North America.” Pike’s Peak does have a road to the top but only half of it is paved. If you’re game, go for it. Otherwise, there is a cog railway that you can take to the top. Or, you can hike it. There are several trails to the top.
Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame – This all-volunteer, non-profit museum focuses on the people in motorcycling history. It is located in Colorado Springs.
Rocky Mountain National Park – Rocky Mountain beauty at its finest. Plus, Trail Ridge Road reaches 12,183 at its highest point, which makes the highway higher than any mountain in Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks.
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park – The world’s highest suspension bridge. It doesn’t go to anywhere but the other side, but the road down on the other side is beautiful, narrow, twisty, and deserted – perfect for motorcycles. Otherwise, you just cross the bridge and then cross back. Either way, you'll never forget it.
Skyline Drive – This loop on the west side of Canon City takes you up onto the spine of a towering ridge. The narrow asphalt road is one-way, so get on from US 50 as it goes north after leaving the town. This is definitely one you'll be telling your friends about.
U.S. Air Force Academy – Nestled against the foothills on the north side of Colorado Springs, the Air Force Academy is known for the striking architecture of the Cadet Chapel. Visitors are welcome.
Yule Marble Quarry – The quarry at the town of Marble produced the stone for the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Huge chunks of scrap marble lay everywhere and you can hike up to peer down into the quarry. It’s well worth it, and a fascinating sidetrip. Here’s some more information.