Colorado: A Himalayan in the Rockies

Text: Brian Shaney • Photography: Brian Shaney

An early fall ride through the Rocky Mountains is one of those irresistible and unforgettable trips: mile after mile of stunning scenery, remote and pristine environments, high mountain passes, wildlife at any turn, interesting towns, and twisting and curving roads.

I had the pleasure of taking such a ride last fall, based out of Colorado Springs, CO. It was a chance to get in one more ride before winter arrived in the Rockies and to put some miles on a Royal Enfield Himalayan, a motorcycle I had immediately grown fond of at its spring 2018 North American launch. Although it had been a busy year for me, without much time at home, how could I say no?

I arrive in Colorado Springs late in the day. After picking up the Himalayan from the kind folks at Pikes Peak Motorsports, I head to what will be my starting and ending point for this journey: The Mining Exchange, an upscale hotel situated near the city center. Looking to get an early start, I ready my luggage and settle in for the night. 

Goodbye City Life 

Heading out of Colorado Springs early on a Monday morning, I’m reacquainting myself with what will be my sole traveling companion for the next four days. I will call him “Otto.” Otto is a 2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan and as we will be each other’s only company on this roundtrip into the Rockies, introductions seem appropriate. 

Otto was the name of my grandfather, a man who without question was one of the most resilient and hardworking people I’ve ever known. Having immigrated from Germany with his parents after World War I, he served in WWII in the Pacific prior to returning to the U.S. and settling in Southeast Ohio, where he raised cattle and farmed well into his 80s. He was, in a word, tough.

Just beyond the city, my route travels through the Garden of the Gods, a popular park and National Natural Landmark that features several remarkable sand and limestone formations. Traffic winds through and it’s slow-going at times, but not unbearable. I make a couple of photo stops before reaching Rampart Range Road (aka Forest Service Road 300), where Otto and I leave the pavement, cagers, and tourists behind.

We begin a steady climb into the Pike National Forest. The road is in good condition aside from some stretches of washboard, which the Himalayan takes well in stride. Several switchbacks later, we reach an elevation of just over 8,300 feet, and the majestic Pikes Peak comes into view. Continuing the ascent, we are soon surrounded by conifer and deciduous trees, the latter beginning to show fall colors. 

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2019 back issue.