I went out yesterday in spite of the rain. I got wet, but it was one of the best rides I’ve ever taken. One road I traversed yesterday was San Juan County Road 14. I’d never been before, so this was new exploration for me—I found the views incomparable and the wildflowers spectacular. I took a nice GPS track, which appears below.
San Juan County Road 14’s north end is just south of Red Mountain Pass. By ‘just south,’ I mean just south, as in a few hundred feet. It lies entirely to the east of US. Hwy 550, and eventually rejoins it. Don’t go up CR 14A—that just loops over the hill and takes you right back down to the base of CR 14—hardly a distance of a hundred yards. San Juan County takes great care of their roads. This is a ride that a beginner or a beginner+ can do easily, although there are some steep spots. Most of the road is like what you see in the following photo:
The first thing that hit me was the profusion of wildflowers, which I’ll cover in a separate post. CR 14 quickly climbs and comes out above tree line. The views are spectacular, as shown in the leading photo. Also, I was able to see Black Bear Pass Road across the valley (see photo). Black Bear Pass Road also departs US Hwy 550 just south of Red Mountain Pass, but to the west. As you can see from the photo, even the eastern approach to Black Bear Pass offers some steep climbs. Of course, it’s the descent into Telluride that makes it so interesting (no, you don’t want to try it unless you’re an expert).
Back to CR 14: The road has a few steep spots but nothing too hard. I was able to sit for most of the ride, standing only when I thought the road a bit steep. There are a few switchbacks—I usually stood for those too.
Now, before I provide the all-important GPS track for this delightful road, I’ll note that the rain shown in the top picture moved around. I intercepted it a few times. Even though it was July 24th, it was plenty cold up there at altitude, soaked through and still raining. Fortunately, the road surface was such that I didn’t run into any traction issues. Also—and this is critical—there was no lightning. If there had been, I would have sought shelter much further down the mountain!