Western States Part II
October 5, 2009 - Durango, CO to Moab, UT

We have been closely watching the weather since we left Nashville because there has been some activity in the forecast for Colorado and Utah right along our projected route.  This includes heavy winds (forecast to be 50 mph in places), heavy rain, and snow at higher elevations.  The snow level was forecast to be around 9,500' and some of the places we were planning to visit were well above that elevation.  We had planned to head north through Telluride, CO upon leaving Durango and then looping back down to Moab.  After keeping a close eye on the weather we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and skipped the Telluride loop.  We found out later in the day that Telluride did get a couple of inches of snow overnight so our decision to skip it was the right one.

We left Durango, CO under cloudy, drizzly skies headed for Mesa Verde National Park for our first National Park Passport Stamp of the day.  Right at the entrance to the park there were two Colorado State Troopers stopped so, since we were stopped anyway to get a photo of the entrance sign, I asked them about the road conditions going into the park.  The road was rough and undergoing resurfacing and there were some snow flurries falling.  The Troopers said that other than the rough road we should not have any problems, so we got lucky again.

We talked to these officers for several minutes since one of them was riding a Harley-Davidson Police motorcycle.  One of them mentioned a few things that were really eye-opening to me.  First was the rider's gear.  He was wearing knee-height boots, normal thin khaki pants, a short leather jacket, an open face helmet, and fingerless gloves.  I was wearing my heated jacket liner and was thankful for it!  We asked if he didn't get cold riding, and he said that he did get a bit cold but that's what the department issued him so that's what he had to wear!

He also mentioned that there were areas on his patrol route where he had zero communications.  No radio, no cell phone, no nothing!  C'mon people, I realize that mountains cause severe problems for any type of radio communications but these guys are out there protecting you!  What is he supposed to do if he has to detain someone or call for backup and has no communications?  He can't very well throw the person over the back of his motorcycle or handcuff him to a tree while he rides somewhere that he can communicate.  Get these guys the equipment they need to do the job right, sooner or later it will be in your best interests.

Here are a bunch of photos from Mesa Verde National Park.  Most of them were taken from spots along the road coming out of the park.  The scenery is absolutely awesome.

From Mesa Verde National Park we headed for Hovenweep National Monument for another Passport Stamp.  If I had to pick a word to describe Hovenweep it would unquestionably be "Remote"!  Hovenweep National Monument is literally in the middle of nowhere.  Their mailing address is in Cortez, CO however Cortez is 1) In the wrong state (Hovenweep is across the border in Utah), and 2) 41 miles away!  As we were leaving the park I noticed a road sign that showed distances to the nearest towns.  They were all 40+ miles away.  We took a few photos, got our stamp, and headed on our way northwestward.

We planned to stop in Moab, UT for the night so to that end we headed northward on Highway 191 through Bluff, Blanding, and Monticello, UT.  Along the way we made numerous stops for photos because the scenery in southern Utah is fabulous.  To a Tennessean like me being able to see more than a couple of miles is a real experience.  My part of the country has so many trees that most of the views are blocked.  There are places where the scenery can be seen, certainly, but nothing like the Western states.

We got to Moab and checked into the Lazy Lizard Hostel (yep, a hostel again!), got some dinner, reviewed our plans for the next day, and called it a day.

Trip Totals:
Miles Today: 245.8 (GPS)
Total Miles: 1,976.3 (GPS)
States Crossed: 7 (TN, AR, OK, TX, NM, CO, UT)
AGirl's ride report for this date is at This Page