Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Gateway Loop (Unaweep-Tubaguache Byway)

Map of General Area
I call this the “Gateway Loop” only because we usually take the ride in a loop from Montrose Colorado, but it is in reality The Unaweep Tabaguache Scenic and Historic Byway and is a historic ride through Colorado’s remote canyon country.  Copper, radium, uranium and other special minerals all enticed miners here and farming communities grew up in the area as well. (see video below!)

From Montrose we ride south on 550 (the famous Million Dollar Highway), but turn off at Ridgway, over the Dallas Divide (8,970 feet) and through Placerville, Norwood, Naturita and Uravan to begin the fabulous ride of CO 141 through the Delores Canyon. 

You will pass the “Hanging Flume” which is an amazing site considering why and how this was built.  In need of water to work the Dolores Canyon gold claims, the Montrose Placer Mining Company build a thirteen-mile canal and flume to deliver water from the San Miguel River.  The last five miles of the flume clung to the wall of the canyon itself, running along the cliff face you can see in these photos.
The Hanging Flume
close up of The Hanging Flume
It was constructed between 1888 and 1891 and carried 23 ½ Million gallons of water in a 24 hour period.  It is considered an amazing accomplishment and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and is easy to see right off the road on your way to Gateway from the south. 

Gateway Canyon

Now… for the best part, the ride through the bottom of the Gateway Canyon carved by the Delores River.  One of the most spectacular rides you’ll take.  Little if any traffic, isolated, red rock walls all around you and not a straight section of road. 
The Palisade as seen from Gateway Resort

141 will take you into the new resort area of Gateway.  Founded by John Hendricks, who also founded the Discovery Networks, this top notch resort is a destination, or a great stop over for this ride. 

But you will have the most interest in the Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum house on the property.  It tells the engaging story about the marvels of automotive history and the revolution in personal transportation brought about by the invention, production and marketing of the American automobile. This story is so broad in scope that it takes a 30,000 square foot facility to house more than 40 cars in all. 

Gateway Auto Museum
Exterior of the Museum - Beautiful
A small sampling of the fantastically restored, priceless cars and motorcycles you will see here!

Finally if you continue on east from Gateway back to CO 50, you’ll go through millions of years of geology exposed on the walls on both sides of you.  Before you reach Hwy 50, you will catch a panoramic view of the Grand Mesa to the east - breathtaking. 

View of the Grand Mesa on the way back to CO 50 from Gateway
I hope you enjoy this fantastic day ride on the Gateway Loop, or more correctly the Unaweep Tabaguache Scenic and Historic Byway.  Stay in Montrose and take the loop, you won’t regret it! (check out El Jimado Mexican restaurant next to the Holiday Inn Express on Townsend Blvd. - seriously good food!)

Till next time, shiny side up!

"Road Dog"

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