Menu

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

STAFF BLOG

Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure Tour
Story: Jubal Brown
Photos: Randall Paetzold

ADV Tour Vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTlCJEbuHMk

Fall is descending on the Aspen forests' of Colorado- and the cool, crisp air perfectly complimented the Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure Tour. As Round 14 of the AMA Yamaha Super Tenere Adventure Riding Series, the three day Autumn Hot Springs Tour also served as the fourth event of the Summer put on by Exit Tours M/C. Once again, the Exit Tours crew outdid themselves.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

Adventure Bike enthusiasts from all over the Country converged on the sleepy town of Buena Vista, Colorado Friday afternoon. Mountain Tech Motorsports (the local Beta dealer), was kind enough to open their doors to visitors who needed to park trucks and trailers and to pick up last minute moto provisions. Best of all, participants were able to drop off their luggage and bags at Mountain Tech Motorsports to be couriered to all of the overnight stops.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

A swimsuit was as important as a helmet on the Autumn Hot Springs Adventure, as riders were treated to a different deluxe hot springs on each of the three overnight stays of the tour. After dropping everything off, Andrew and I made the short trek up to Cottonwood Hot Springs for the first soak of the Tour.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

Forty ADV bikes were lined up in a big single-file row along the hot springs. There were a number of 1200GS BMWs, a few 990 KTMs, a small KLR Kult, various examples of the Triumph Tiger 800 and 1200 XCs, and Andrew and I's Big Twin/Happy Trail Products F800GS’s. Riders from Washington, to Tennessee and even Canada all congregated under a big tent and enjoyed bench racing and a delicious taco buffet. After dinner, everyone enjoyed the relaxing Cottonwood Hot Springs. With the temperatures of the multiple pools ranging from tepid to torrid; there was something for everybody.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

Bright and early the next morning, Andrew and I hit the road with Sean Barr of Mountain Tech Motorsports. Riding a Yamaha Super Tenere, Sean created the entire route for the Hot Springs Adventure. It did not take long to leave the pavement behind and hit some great dirt roads. Right off the bat, Sean took us on a twisty, single-lane dirt road through some small water crossings to the top of our first 11, 000ft+ mountain pass.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

The first thing that struck us was the elevation of the ride. We left Cottonwood Hot Springs at over 8000 feet and just climbed from there. It was surreal seeing 14, 000ft. peaks next to you instead of towering over you! The Hot Springs Adventure Tour crossed Weston, Hoosier, Boreas, Kenosha, Guanella, Loveland, and Ute Passes and then followed the Colorado River Road through Glenwood Canyon to the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge. Our total on the clock for the first day was 325-miles.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

We spent the night at Glenwood Hot Springs Pool & Lodge. Built in 1888, Glenwood is the world’s largest hot springs pool. Around the turn of the century, it became world-renowned as a healing wonder set in a mountain paradise. During WWII the hot springs and hotel were used exclusively as a U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

The next morning, riders again saddled up just after sunup. The groves of Aspens were already starting to turn color as we rode past. Winter comes early in these parts, and speckles of yellow and orange dotted the roadside. From the Glenwood Hot Springs, we continued on to Aspen, one of the iconic mountain ski towns of the world. Then ‘first’ “best part” of Day 2 began as we tackled 12, 095ft Independence Pass. It is the second-highest paved pass in Colorado and is home of one of the most spectacular stretches of road in the state. The road is winding and steep with a constant 6.5% gradient, including tight switchbacks on each approach. The road narrows to one lane at several points along the way, and only inches separate motorists from certain death over steep drop-offs and sheer cliffs.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

The next morning, riders again saddled up just after sunup. The groves of Aspens were already starting to turn color as we rode past. Winter comes early in these parts, and speckles of yellow and orange dotted the roadside. From the Glenwood Hot Springs, we continued on to Aspen, one of the iconic mountain ski towns of the world. Then ‘first’ “best part” of Day 2 began as we tackled 12, 095ft Independence Pass. It is the second-highest paved pass in Colorado and is home of one of the most spectacular stretches of road in the state. The road is winding and steep with a constant 6.5% gradient, including tight switchbacks on each approach. The road narrows to one lane at several points along the way, and only inches separate motorists from certain death over steep drop-offs and sheer cliffs.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

After that, we did our best Valentino Rossi impressions up paved Cottonwood Pass, and practiced for Pikes Peak on dirt Cumberland Pass. Finally, we skirted the La Garita Wilderness Area and arrived at the Great Sand Dunes Hot Springs Pool. 375 miles on the trail had all the riders ready for a relaxing soak at the pool and a good night sleep at the Inn of the Rio Grande in Alamosa, Colorado.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

Day 3 started with a special tour of the steam engine facilities at the San Luis & Rio Grande's Railroad facility in Alamosa with a tour led by General Manager Matt Abbey. From there, we proceeded on our own iron over La Veta Pass, over the Wet Mountains to Canon City, through breathtaking Phantom Canyon to Victor and then to the historic gambling mecca of Cripple Creek before following dirt roads back to Buena Vista. This was the “shortest” day at 250-miles, but everyone had smiles on their weary faces as we returned to Mountain Tech Motorsports on Monday afternoon for a delicious BBQ.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

The terrain we covered over the three days varied from slickrock canyons with red dirt and junipers to high mountain views above treeline overlooking pine forest. This ride really made us appreciate what the mountains of Colorado have to offer! Exit Tours M/C created a fantastic route that really put the ADV in Adventure Bike. The riding surface varied from paved canyon twisties to the less traveled single-lane dirt fire roads. Our Big Twin/Happy Trail Products F800GS’s were more that up to the challenge and tore through the terrain with ease and comfort. We were stoked!

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

The Tour crossed 16 mountain passes and covered 975-miles in three days. Of the 40 participants, the oldest rider was Jan Key, 74 years young, who rode a Suzuki V-Strom with his wife as a passenger the whole way. The youngest was none other than our own video-talent Andrew Kane at 20-years old. Six wives participated free of charge, with three following the route in rental cars and the other three winning the Iron Buns award as passengers. There were no injuries and no major crashes; in fact, the only casualty was one flat tire.

2013 Rocky Mountain Autumn Hot Springs Adventure

The Rocky Mountain Hot Springs Adventure Tour was one of the standout events of the season for us! It took us through almost 1, 000 miles of one of the most spectacular riding areas of the Country. The “High Adventure, No Hassles” approach included plenty of riding on asphalt, gravel and two-track routes mapped by local experts and the camaraderie of like-minded enthusiasts. The event was a hit thanks to Exit Tours M/C, Fly Racing, Vurboffroad.com, Wiseco, Enduro Spec Suspension, Mountain Tech Motorsports, Leo Vince, Acerbis, and Rocky Mountain Jeep Rentals. The only thing missing was you! Want to be there next year? Check out www.coloradodualsport.com for info on next year’s events.