Motorcycling Trip: Ouray -The Switzerland of America

KTMs are usually orange, but I don't do color.

Each year, I steal a few weeks from our family and take a motorcycling trip.

I often go on a motorcycling trip alone, but sometimes with friends if I can round up a few. It’s gotten a bit easier as Jesse became mobile, but with Indra’s travel schedule and other family and work commitments, putting together a few days can still be elusive.

This May, I took about a week to drive to two of my favorite all-time motorcycling trip destinations, and the first is Ouray, Colorado. This little town is centrally located in southwestern Colorado, tucked into the San Juan Mountains. The Ute Indians came here for the spiritual qualities attributed to the hot springs, and later others came for the rich ore buried in the San Juan Mountains.

Ouray is known (among other things) as the “Jeeping Capital of the World” and while the nice residents of Moab, Utah might disagree, it’s damn fine territory for 2 or 4 wheeling.

For bikes, I have two of the finest motorcycles ever created by nonspecifichigherpower, and for this trip, I chose to truck my 2014 KTM 500 EXC to the destination and the day trip from the comfort of my hotel. For me, this means beginning my drive at home at about 0400 and ending nearly 14 hours later in Ouray, with stops for fuel, sustenance and a OHV permit at a local Walmart.

The folks in Colorado are so kind- one police officer turned on his lights for me, greeted me politely and awarded me with a meritorious driving award while passing through Montrose.

When I travel solo, I have more options than when with the missus, so I’m able to choose lodgings that might be a little bit more affordable and reflect the local spirit of the area. This trip, I chose The Twin Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs, and yes, I’d hoped to catch a glimpse of Agent Cooper, Audrey, Log Lady or even Bob. Alas, geographic confusion never stopped me from wishing. Wrong state, wrong town, wrong decade, wrong century. Humble lodging, clean, comfortable, and nice folks.

My first meal in town was my favorite of my two-night stay, Red Mountain Brewing. They had a fried chicken sandwich with honey maple mayo and house made pickles. Highly recommended. I tried a few other places for both dinner and breakfast, but none that I’d recommend. I didn’t find Ouray to be a town I’d seek out for dining.

For those in search of strong local spirits, try KJ Wood Distillers– I didn’t get a chance to visit, (damnit!) but the owner’s a big supporter of both riding and Ouray. I’ll make it a priority to visit on my next trip.

While I’d planned to chill for a day and aclimatize to the 8,000-ish feet of elevation, the weather was spectacular and I didn’t feel the effects of oxygen starvation, so I mounted up and headed for the hills. Mountains. Peaks.

The riding in the area is varied in challenges- most of the Alpine Loop can be easily done on most well-equipped bikes and 4-wheel vehicles. There are a lot of single-track rides of which I didn’t avail myself- I was riding solo, and was just looking for scenery.

And scenery I found. Serious scenery, scenery that just keeps coming, around every bend, over every rise. It’s overwhelming and spectacular. This is scenery that scenery aspires to. If I only had some pictures!

Oh, wait…

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It was my original intention to spend another riding day in Ouray, but I’d covered so much territory (at least suitable for safe solo riding- with a buddy or two one can ride for weeks around there) in a single day, I decamped and headed out for my second favorite riding destination.

For that, see another post!

For those interested in bikes and rides like this, here’s a list of some of my favorite resources- they’re not sponsors, but I like ’em. for training- a great dirt-first program. Motoventures will start you as if you’ve never seen a motorcycle before. Great for beginners, but also for those who likely have developed bad habits in the past. Very friendly environment for women and kids, too. makers of the finest motorcycles ever created by nonspecifichigherpower. PLENTY of inventory, shipping is fast and reliable. OEM parts, too. Revzilla is an amazing retailer. They’re in-house video procession is incredible for any type of products. Very comprehensive video demos for many products. well done, a great resource. I carry a SPOT satellite tracker wherever I ride- peace of mind for me and my family. Although possible redundant with the SPOT, I also carry an InReach device with allows two-way, satellite based communications. LOVE our Tundra. Ride with protective gear. Always. Have a $10 head? Buy a $10 helmet. They don’t sell those at Arai. Chaparral Motorsports is a big retailer of motorcycles and associated gear, and my Sidi Crossfire boots came from there. Sure, one can fine lighter boots that one can hike or walk in a museum, and I think that’s great. I have sneakers for that. If I’m on a bike, I’m in these boots- they’ve saves my feet, shins and ankles more times than I can count. Every bike I have has an XM player on it. My buddies think I’m crazy.

www.giantloopmoto for the Mojavi saddlebags that are always on my bikes, full of tools, tubes, first aid and various bits and bobs