No matter what kind of riding one prefers, there’s something for everyone passionate about motor sports in Colorado’s high country.
Carl Bauer, self-proclaimed motor sports advocate for Chaffee and Lake counties, is the founder of High Rocky Riders, an off-highway vehicle club dedicated to family-oriented recreation involving off-road vehicles; and the ATV Color Tour, a four-day all-terrain vehicle event in late September, where up to 200 riders drive through local mountain trail systems.
“There are two distinctive types of riding,” Bauer said. “There’s desert terrain with smooth riding — basically on decomposed granite, with a clear view of the mountains and really cool rock structures — and then there’s the other side of the valley, where you’re up in the mountain passes. Much more rocky with lush vegetation.”
Bauer recommends the Fourmile Travel Management Area in Buena Vista for those looking for a smoother ride. Accessible from March through November, the Fourmile Area trail is a loop in northern Chaffee County, and is accessed off U.S. 285 and 24.
It’s an easy ride if one stays on the main loop, Bauer said, but journey on the ATV trails branching off it, and a rider can be in for quite an adventure.
Bauer said the Fourmile track is a favorite for both him and his family.
“We’ll go up there and have lunch sometimes,” Bauer said. “It’s just so convenient.”
For those looking to travel off the trusted trails of the Fourmile loop, there are opportunities in both Chaffee and Lake counties to explore more mountainous terrain.
On the Chaffee County side, riders can take the Otto Mears Toll Road to Bonanza, a route climbing into mountain scenery filled with historical destinations.
ATVers can also tackle the Mount Antero/Baldwin Lake route on Forest Road 277, which reaches a high point of 13,700 feet.
Lake County also has ample opportunity for motorists to climb the high country. Following CR 3, off-road enthusiasts can tackle Mosquito Pass, the highest pass in the United States at 13,185 feet.
Off CR 4, motorists can also conquer Hagerman Pass in Lake County, which follows an old Colorado Midland Railway line crossing the Continental Divide.
For those not looking for off-road experiences, the Leadville Motocross Park is available.
Located near the Leadville-Lake County Airport, the track is found off CR 23A, on CR 45.
The park contains a fully-fenced adult motocross track, a kids’ track and the beginning of a motocross single-track.
The park is also planning to expand to feature off-road trails, with 65 additional acres at its disposal.
Those interested will have to purchase a day pass at the recreation office in the Lake County Courthouse.
Jeff Kegu, park manager, said that before it came to fruition, those who wanted to ride on a course would often have to travel down to the Front Range.
“We now have a legitimate motor sports track up in the mountains,” Kegu said.
Ryan Fitzmaurice is a Herald Democrat staff writer.