Growing up in Colorado, I used to take my humble Honda CL360 as far and high as I could get it. Unfortunately, I never made it to the southwest end of the state, but every time I see pictures of what I missed, I wish I had.
The San Juan Mountain Skyway is listed on several sites as a top motorcycle route. At 225 miles, it could be considered a day ride, but that’s a long day considering you won’t be bombing around at 70 mph.
Durango or Cortez (both in south/southwest end of the state) are probably your best starting points. They’re large towns with plenty of options for sleeping and eating. While you go through others – even the now posh Telluride — these two towns have easy access coming north from New Mexico or south out of other major cities and towns in Colorado.
The area is home to many of Colorado’s 14ers so there are places where you’ll hit over 10,000 feet. You can also expect numerous hairpin turns and switchbacks (some with and WITHOUT guardrails) and plenty of descents and climbs throughout the entire loop.
Old mining towns, Indian ruins, ski areas and the Rocky Mountains are just a few of the reasons you’ll want to take your time and get the most out of this route.
Thanks to Motorcycle Roads for the following video. This is along the 145 section between Placerville and Cortez – more straightaways and sweepers than twisties – but it will give you an idea of what to expect.