Trip Report: Morrison CO to Indian Hills Cycling
On Saturday August 12th I went out to Morrison, Colorado with a friend to go on a ride. It was a beautiful Saturday morning, about 65-70 degrees when we arrived around 8:15, and turned into a warm summer day.
Here’s my guide to cycling from Morrison CO to Indian Hills and back.
Parking in Morrison CO for cycling
Morrison is a busy place on the weekends, full of tourists, Red Rocks event goers, and motorcyclists out for a beautiful weekend drive into the mountains. Morrison is the gateway to Route 74, which climbs and winds up through the mountains to Evergreen.
Because of this, parking can be tough. You have a few choices about where to park in and around Morrison before you set off on your ride:
- Two spots beside the old Red Rocks Cyclery, which fill up by 830am;
- Along the main street in Morrison, which has a 3 hour time limit (parking is free) before you are ticketed;
- Drive up 74 out of Morrison and find a spot, often along the right side of the road, where you can park legally (there are signs when it is illegal).
The ride from Morrison
Remember how I said that Morrison is the gateway to the Rockies and climbs/winds to Evergreen?
That means that the ride up 74 out of Morrison is all climbing. You ride West out of town and start to go up. The four lane road through Morrison becomes three lanes after the stop light on the west side of Morrison, and then it quickly becomes two lanes about 300 meters further up the road.
As the road climbs, shoulders go from a few feet wide (winning!) to non-existent. Some of the twists and turns become blind for drivers, thus you should always seek to keep an eye on if a car is coming up behind you ahead of one of these turns and make sure that they see you. Also stay as far to the right as you can and get through these turns quickly so that you do not become another statistic.
There are “Watch for cyclists” and “Share the road” signs sporadically through this ride, but after both riding and then driving them yesterday they are few and far between.
You’ll climb through the little towns of Idledale and Kittredge. If you continue straight along 74 you will reach Evergreen in about another four miles of climbing.
In Kittredge, you can hang a left onto Myers Gulch Road, also called CO 120, which climbs steeply out of Kittredge for a few miles until you Parmalee and the road goes left down into town and into more climbing. I chose to get to the top, take in the view, and then turn around in order to get back to my car which I had parked along the road in Morrison and was concerned about getting a ticket.
The ride back down, of course, was much faster. It took us an hour and a half to climb up to Parmalee, and I was back to my car in about 25 minutes. The ride back is, of course, almost all down with a few little climbs that were respites on the ride up.
Scenery and mental state
This ride is beautiful. As you climb up, the scenery goes from town and the red rocks after which the amphitheater is named into a beautiful gulch along a river, and finally up into evergreen trees (I now know why Evergreen is named it!) that smell amazing.
Be forewarned that the climbing starts just out of Morrison and on summer days the sun can get really hot. This ride can be challenging if you are not in great cycling shape (which I am not) and each time I thought I was reaching an apex in the road and would get some relief, it kept climbing.
Mental fortitude is important in this ride (like any), so be prepared that when you think you’re done climbing on this ride you most likely are not.
Do I recommend this ride?
Absolutely. The ride was gorgeous, the mountains are serene, the river runs wild, and the evergreens smell amazing. I noticed some natural elements I had never noticed before, like natural arches and beautiful bridges over rivers.
That said, remember these three elements before you decide to take this ride:
- Get there early and pay attention to parking rules
- Keep as far right on the road as you can and know that sometimes cars go fast and curves are blind
- Be prepared for a lot of climbing at altitude
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