Today was the start of the final third of my trip. It was time to head home. I decided to return to Colorado for two more days of mountain riding and cooler temperatures. I headed north on I-15, then East on I-70 to Grand Junction Colorado. I saw signs for the Colorado National Monument and decided that I would bag another Passport stamp and pin. So at Fruita, I headed south on 340 to the park and rode Rimrock Drive through the park to the Visitor Center.
I took local roads to Grand Junction to get back onto I-70. Grand Junction is home to a huge Union Pacific rail yard. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many locomotives in one place. Must be mountain power. Then it was back onto I-70 east to CO 65, the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway. This is a great ride that parallels a river before heading south and climbing up into the Grand Mesa National Forest. Traffic was almost non-existent, but it was mid-afternoon and I knew that I had hours to ride before I would get to any town large enough to have a motel.
At Orchard City, I picked up CO 92 which took me east to Hotchkiss and then south to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This was some of the most spectacular, if not the most spectacular scenery of the trip. The views looked like Yosemite and I was frustrated that there were no shoulders or parking areas to take photos. I did manage to capture the sunset on my GoPro. The deer were out in full force and I had the Clearwaters blazing at full strength. I truly lost count of the number of deer I saw, including one majestic buck who watched me slowly approach and then effortlessly bounded over a fence and disappeared into the forest.
92 terminated at US-50 at the Curecanti National Recreation Area. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. No lights, no services, nothing. I headed east on US-50 not realizing that I had ridden this stretch the previous week but in the opposite direction. The road parallels the Blue Mesa Reservoir and at night it looked ominous and foreboding. But it turned out that I wasn’t that far from Gunnison, and after getting gas and some motel advice from from the convenience store clerk, I stopped for the night.