Pagosa Springs, Colorado Shamrock Tour®:  Riding “Naked” in the Rocky Mountain State

Text: Brian Shaney • Photography: Brian Shaney, Kris Shaney

With an abundance to see and do, Colorado is a tourist mecca for good reason. While many flock to explore the beauty and rugged wilderness (whether hiking, rafting or mountain biking), we made plans to visit some of the old mining and railroad towns that sprouted up in the mid to late 1800s. All of them rely on the past to stay vibrant, and it seems fitting that we’ll be contributing to their economies when arriving on our vintage-inspired Triumphs.

Back to the Future

It’s an unusually warm June day in southern Colorado as we prepare for the first day of exploration. My wife Kris is riding a 2014 Thruxton and I am on a customized 2010 Bonneville. Our luggage stocked with an ample supply of water, we depart from our home base at the High Country Lodge, just east of Pagosa Springs. Before long we’re climbing into the San Juan Mountains toward Wolf Creek Pass and the Continental Divide. The smooth winding road is mostly free of traffic and as the dense forest replaces pastures, a canopy of green envelopes us. With nature’s drama taking hold, I roll on the throttle and the mighty Triumph Twin roars up the twisty tarmac to pass the summit at 10,857 ft.

Turning onto the Silver Thread Scenic Byway (CO 149), we follow the Rio Grande for several miles. The pristine blacktop wanders by the waterway and snowcapped mountains appear in the distance. As the sun peaks through lofty clouds, we arrive in the town of Creede. Once home to Robert Ford, the man who killed Jesse James, the city boasted a population of over 10,000 residents in the mid 1890s, owing to the discovery of silver in the area. As the mines closed over the years, the population declined. Today, the historic town is home to roughly 300, and the week before our visit, Creede celebrated its 125th birthday. 

Rolling into town, it’s easy to see why Creede draws its fair share of tourists each year. Set before a backdrop of sheer cliffs, the main street of 1890s storefronts presents a spectacular view that quickly transports us to days gone by.

Just north of the city center, we come upon the town’s volunteer fire department, which, incredibly, is housed in the side of a mountain. We pause there briefly to snap a few shots of the exterior while deciding that our plans for the day needed adjustment and ought to include more wandering about in downtown Creede. 

After checking out a few of the gift shops, we pay a visit to the Creede Historical Museum which is housed in the old Denver-Rio Grande Railway Depot. The exhibits showcase several artifacts from the town’s early days, including a cell from the town’s first jail and a restored hand-powered fire pumper. For me, the many well-preserved “smalls” (items of clothing, underwear) from homesteads and ranches are well worth the $ 2 admission.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2018 back issue.