Continuing my “Boulder weekend”, I spend this morning exploring the hinterland. (Feel free to follow along on the map.) Starting from Louisville, I drove up Route 36 into Boulder, then west along Canyon towards Nederland. After climbing for 15 miles (from about 5500 ft. to 8500 ft.) the road emerges next to a wholly improbably lake: this is Barker Meadow Reservoir in Nederland. Negotiating an unexpected roundabout (traffic circle) in the centre of Nederland, I headed north along Route 72, the Peak to Peak Highway. At its highest point the road is around 11500 ft.*, and there are several peaks nearby around 12-14K high. Eventually it joins Route 7 and drops to “only” 7500 ft. in Estes Park, where I arrived around 11:30.
I had planned to explore Estes Park and maybe have lunch there, but I quickly changed my mind. There were hoards of people there for the Longs Peak Scottish/Irish Highland Festival, many of them wearing inauthentic kilts and other unflattering garb. I hastily turned east on Route 36 back towards Boulder; as I left Estes Park the westbound traffic into the town was backed up for miles. I counted myself fortunate that I’d chosen the southern route.
I emerged from the front range in Lyons. The transition is startling: one minute you’re negotiating switch-back curves with cliffs towering above you, the next you’re driving across featureless rolling terrain with nothing much of geographical interest until you reach Kansas City, 600 miles to the east. After Lyons I decided to continue my explorations, so instead of continuing down Route 36 to Boulder I took Route 66 to Longmont. Downtown was hot, dusty, and deserted, but I found a decent lunch and a surprisingly good Hefeweizen at the Pumphouse Brewery. From there I headed down Route 287 through Lafayette (I think I blinked and missed it) to Broomfield, then drove back up Route 36 to my hotel in Louisville.
I took a bunch of pictures just north of Ward on Route 72 (altitude around 10K), and some more on Route 7 close to Mount Meeker. I’ve uploaded them to Flickr, as an experiment.
And one note for Chris: I passed lots of cyclists on the Peak to Peak Highway. Very impressive, at that altitude.
* This is the only spot height I could find on the web, but it seems a bit high; 10K seems more likely. Does anyone have a topographic map of the area?