A ride to Guanella Pass

Enjoy a road among the clouds in Guanella Pass, a scenic mountain byway in central Colorado

Riding through Guanella Pass, the engine at full throttle, every twist of the wrist releases adrenaline, and every turn reveals breathtaking views of the majestic Rocky Mountains, dense forests, alpine meadows, and picturesque valleys.  

Guanella Pass is a beautiful 22-mile scenic byway that connects the former mining town of Georgetown, Colorado to Grant. The pass ascends up to 11,669ft to the west of Mount. Evans and Mount Bierstadt.

Stephen Humer from Denver, who set up a YouTube Channel called Rocky Mountain Monday, following his journey riding his 2012 Ducati Monster 696 through Colorado, rode Guanella Pass in the summer of 2020. He said, “It was my first time going down the route. The well-maintained roads were all paved, meaning I didn’t have to worry about any unexpected terrain.”

As you elevate, alongside rocky landscape, aspen trees, and exposed views from the road across to the mountains, Stephen says there’s not too heavy of an incline.

“But when I reached the summit of Guanella Pass, at 11,669ft, the winds almost blew my bike over when I got off to take a picture! I got to take in the beauty of Guanella Pass. I could see distant mountains still had snow coverage despite it being summer. To my right, were the famous 14,000ft mountains, Mount Bierstadt and Mount Evans.”

Twisty and challenging turns

While the roads are completely paved, you can expect some twisty and challenging turns which are a joy to ride on a motorcycle. The route offers a combination of sweeping curves, hairpin turns, and elevation changes, providing a thrilling and engaging riding experience. And with minimal traffic, you can fully enjoy the performance and handling of your motorcycle, as you navigate through the scenic terrain.

Road sign on Guanella Pass

And getting to Guanella Pass couldn’t be easier. The Guanella Pass Loop is conveniently located within a short distance from Denver, making it easily accessible for a day trip or weekend getaway. Whether you’re a local resident or visiting the area, riding to Guanella Pass allows you to escape the city and experience the natural beauty of the mountains within a short ride from downtown Denver.

There’s also plenty to do off the motorcycle within the area, including various hiking trails, numerous scenic viewpoints, and pull-off areas where you can stop to capture stunning photographs of the surrounding landscapes.

As you loop back towards Denver, you’ll pass through the historic mining town of Georgetown. This charming town offers a glimpse into Colorado’s mining heritage, with well-preserved Victorian buildings, museums, a narrow-gauge railroad, and a beautiful lake. From immersing yourself in the city’s art to sipping on a cold craft beer, and more, Georgetown has it all.

A diverse range of wildlife

The Guanella Pass Loop is also home to a diverse range of wildlife. As you ride through the area, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep butting heads to show their dominance! Or you might spot mule deer, elk, and various bird species in their natural habitat.

And the best time to take an adventure over Guanella? For a truly captivating experience, consider riding during fall, when the aspen trees are golden. Colorado truly becomes breathtaking as the leaves change.

A fellow motorcyclist from Dallas, Texas said, “We needed to get from Estes Park to Great Sand Dunes, but didn’t want to take the Interstate. Browsing Google Maps, I found Guanella Pass. My motorcycle camping group agreed to include it on the day’s ride.

“This is a wonderful road for motorcycle touring. We stopped at the top of the pass to get off and walk around above the treeline. If alone, I’m sure I’d have taken a 5-mile hike, but we had quite a way to go before getting to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The trip down the southern end of the pass is quite mild with sweeping curves and big meadows.

“We didn’t see any wildlife, but then again, we weren’t looking. I understand that wildlife is teaming in those mountains; especially bighorn sheep. I’ll have to go back!”

Riding the Guanella Pass Loop on a motorcycle combines scenic beauty, thrilling roads, cultural experiences, wildlife encounters, and convenient accessibility from Denver. It’s an opportunity to escape the city, connect with nature, and enjoy the freedom and exhilaration that motorcycle riding provides.

Tips: You can rent a bike at Explorify Motorcycle Rentals in Denver