Author Topic: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?  (Read 2173 times)

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Offline dmedema

CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« on: January 12, 2011, 03:14:54 pm »
Although ACA recommends riding through CO on Routes 145 and 50, I am advised that there are significant stretches lacking any shoulders on narrow, twisting road.  Please tell me what this was like, how safe you felt, etc.

It would appear that route 160, which also ends up in Pueblo CO as does Route 50 might be safer, have more shoulders.

Any comment on this route or from anyone who has been on both and can compare them?

Offline jamawani

Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 08:16:12 pm »
Dmed -

Well, you could ride in Wyoming and have good roads, good shoulders, and moderate traffic.
Folks riding the TransAm west to east often comment on how the shoulder disappears going from Wyo to Colo.
Why?  One reason is that Denver metro eats up all the highway budget - even though Wyo has 1/10 the number of people.

I posted a traffic volume map for Colorado over at Crazyguy a few years back.
The traffic has, most likely, increased a bit - but the relative patterns are largely the same.

Note that US 160 has higher traffic than does US 50.
I've ridden US 160 a couple of times - last time maybe 2004.
I cannot remember being freaked out - but do not recall shoulder status.
The Wolf Creek Pass section has been rebuilt.
The section thru Alamosa sucks.

Have you considered going via Aztec and Taos, New Mexico -
Then either up via San Luis and Walsenburg or Raton and Trinidad?
(You would need to be VERY careful crossing the high bridge over Rio Grande Gorge - esp. winds.)
(If you have a fear of heights - forget it.)


Offline John Nelson

Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2011, 08:38:09 pm »
I've ridden all these roads. I don't like 160--it's too busy. 145 and 50 are very scenic. You don't want to miss Lizards Head Pass, one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. And you want to see Telluride. And you want to ride along Blue Mesa Reservoir and the Dolores River. 145 and 50 are much more scenic than 160. You will however, if eastbound, encounter a guaranteed headwind climbing up to Cerro Summit out of Montrose.

160 is listed as "high traffic volume" (more than 5000 vehicles a day) for most of its route through Colorado. 145 is mostly "low traffic volume" (less than 1500) and 50 is mostly "medium".

145 (mostly) does not have shoulders, but the traffic is low and the scenery is magnificent. Both 50 and 160 have shoulders abour half of the time. I would not describe any of these roads as "twisty".

Bottom line: I suggest you follow the ACA route.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 08:40:26 pm by John Nelson »

Offline valygrl

Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2011, 09:47:28 pm »
Interesting, I have a different take, at least through the mountains, I preferred 160.  I have kind of a special place in my heart for Wolf Creek Pass though - it's sooooo beautiful!  I like it better than Monarch.  I haven't ridden any of the roads out of the mountains, though, so can't speak to the before-and-after parts.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 12:48:30 pm »
I've ridden 160 and 50.  Parts of them anyway.

Hwy 160 about 12 years ago and this summer.  12 years ago from Durango to South Fork.  No traffic at all.  Wide open.  No services either.  This summer from Pagosa Springs to Alamosa.  Not bad getting up Wolf Creek to South Fork.  Lot more traffic going east to Alamosa.  But there was a fine shoulder.  From South Fork to Alamosa 160 is dull and uninteresting.  From Durango to Pagosa Springs it was good.  Rolling and wide open.  Up and down Wolf Creek was good.  I would definitely recommend going west to east across Wolf Creek.

Hwy 50 about 12 years ago.  From Canon City to almost Monarch.  I don't recall there being too much traffic.  Then this summer I was on 50 from about 10 miles before Gunnison to about 10 miles after Gunnison.  Lot more traffic.  There was a shoulder though.  50 is kind of flat and kind of boring.  Nice scenery on either end.  Black Canyon near Monarch and Royal Gorge near Canon City.  And Monarch pass near Salida.

Offline litespeed

Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 01:19:50 pm »
I rode US50 west to east all the way across Colorado and most of Kansas a few years ago. The only problem I recall was the strong SE headwinds all the way across Colorado and on to Dodge City KS. It was some of the toughest cycling I've ever done. I've ridden 160 east to west twice from Pagosa Springs to Cortez (Florida to Utah) twice and don't recall any problems. I took in Mesa Verde for a few days on the second time through.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 01:36:49 pm by litespeed »

Offline tsteven4

Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 02:01:29 pm »
145, placerville to cortez, loved it, quite scenic
160, cortez to del norte, liked it, quite a bit more traffic at times.  mesa verde is a worthwhile detour, yes it is uphill to the CG, and a bit of a ride from the CG to the ruins, count on a day for a loop to the ruins from and back to the CG.
50, poncha spring to montrose, liked it, can have strong winds blowing from the West around Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Ok, I at least like about everything!

I don't recall any of these inciting much fear, other than a section with CDOT dump trucks roaring by at 50mph on the gravel when we couldn't keep up with the pace vehicle in a construction zone.

550 from durango to ridgeway is a worthy alternative to 145.

If you don't mind some 4wd road you can get from silverton over cinnamon pass to lake city (not for the faint of heart, count on some pushing), then take 149 N.  See which also covers some of 160, 550, 145.

From Blue Mesa Reservoir you can take 92 NW, 133 NE, 82 SE through Aspen over Independence Pass, 24 N, 91N to I70, bike path E to 6 over Loveland Pass, I70 corridor E mostly on frontage roads.  Yes, I am not one for straight lines.  Don't know how you would get through Denver if you are heading east though.  If you want to go north from around Idaho Springs watch out for Black Hawk, where cycling is against the law!

Lovely riding in western Colorado, I would highly recommend it.  Be prepared for cold mornings (~40 but could be a bit colder) in the mountains in summer.

There is a CDOT map with shoulder ratings and traffic volumes,  For a hard copy of the Colorado Scenic Byways & Bicycle Map, send your name and mailing address to
« Last Edit: January 13, 2011, 02:21:15 pm by tsteven4 »

Offline staehpj1

Re: CO Routes 145, 50, & 160 - Safety?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 02:09:09 pm »
I found 50 OK and enjoyed it fine.  I can't compare it to any other options though.