Do It: Estes Park (via 34)


It's true what they say: you don't miss something until it's gone. I moved to Loveland, CO in 2016, and enjoyed several trips to Estes/Rocky Mountain National Park via winding US 34. Eventually I learned of the massive flood that had come through a few years earlier. The 2013 flood of the Big Thompson River caused $280 million in damages, and washed away parts of the highway. In order to get the necessary work done, CDOT closed sections of 34 throughout the past years; most recently, it's been closed between Estes and Loveland for 6 months. 


It's an incredible early-morning bike ride: through the canyon with rock cliffs on both sides, and over small bridges, all while listening to the river. Turning right on 43 in Drake and going through Glen Haven to enter Estes from the north/east sort of hides the view of Rocky Mountain National Park until the very last climb. And that very last climb includes 4 switchbacks that are all at least 10% grade. 


The road opened for good on Thursday at 4pm, and I left at 7am on Friday for my first trip up the freshly paved road. I think I was actually the first person to ride it, at least according to Strava. I decided to make it a day and circle around from 34 to 36, through Lyons and back to Loveland. A little over 75 miles--finishing right when it was really heating up. 

It's about to get busy in Rocky Mountain, which is fantastic. I'm grateful to live in a place where rides like this are possible. Get out early: avoid the heat and the traffic, and soak up what ever incredible sight is near you!