Sunday, Aug 27, 2007
Ride Deadman Road end to end
Red Feather Lakes, CO to Four Corners, CO

A nice Sunday drive. I went to the "new" 6p Mass last evening so the whole day is un-scheduled. The weather looks good though the temps will be a tad warm in town - I should head up in elevation to get some perfect temps. Perhaps I'll see if the Deadman Road gate is open. It is!

We'll do some exploring in the Roosevelt National Forest (USDA,  Wikipedia) on Deadman Road with several side trips along the way.

Map of the day - clockwise rotation.
The dotted section is a route I wanted to take.

Elevation Profile
For every 1000 feet of elevation change there's approximately 5 degrees F change in air temperature (higher=cooler).

With a high temp of 95 F at Fort Collins (5000 FT elevation) I spent the day with temps in the high 60's to the high 70's - comfortable.

Dowdy Lake, Red Feather Lakes CO

The area is a second home / cottage area for many (reminds me of Northern Wisconsin). There are several small lakes dotting the landscape with either homes or campers nearby.

At the eastern end of Deadman Road - up a small set of switchbacks I came across a spot to park the bike and grab a snack. Tents are found here and there - this looks like a nice area to camp!

Looking back at the bike.

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A carpet of trees with a snow fence.

The non-asphalt roads today will be much like this.

Route 80C in the background. This spot is the top tip of the black line to the right of the "Deadman Lookout Tower" line.

Route 80C is the next available east-west road north of Deadman Road. I've driven this section of 80C before on my way to view Chimney Rock (photos here). Recall that on that ride I jumped south on a forest road, saw a moose, and then turned back. The road I came north on today is the same "moose road". I simply wanted to see if my northerly road would be the same / end at 80C. I'm beginning to physically map out the area.

Turning about for a shot of the bike.
80C is on the right of the image. I shall U-turn and head back on the forest road.

Heading back to Deadman...

360 Degree view from the Deadman Lookout Tower

Info on the Deadman Lookout Tower (and a few other towers) - Lookout (archive PDF) - Telecom (archive PDF) (archive PDF)

The tower, in very good condition, is staffed by volunteers simply so that visitors like us can get access to the tower and the views it has. I spoke with Doug, the volunteer on duty, for a bit. He and his daughter came up from Boulder CO Friday evening and will stay through Sunday afternoon (the tower is open from 10a - 4p Sat & Sun in the summertime).

I'm interested enough in volunteering to call the forest service office, here in town, to know more. Imagine some shots of morning sunrises, evening sunsets, night lights on the horizon, stars. The enclosure (I didn't take any photos of it - should have - though the links above will fill you in), yes, the enclosure has a bed. A grill is located not far from the base of the tower. A vault toilet is near the parking lot. While the tower is used for antennas two nearby structures are for the electronics and power - solar power. No power exists for the tower enclosure. Verizon does get cell coverage from the antennas at the site - bonus.

A neat "find" - glad I saw the sign and took the short jump to the tower!

360 Degree Panorama
(you really should click the larger size. A special note: If your web browser "shrinks" images to fit the whole image on the screen, do what you need to "expand" it to full fize. You should have to scroll right / left to view the whole image)
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360 Degree Panorama - annotated version
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A few shots of the structure as we head down.

The Big Laramie River Valley. Below will be the western end of Deadman Road. The buildings in the center - near the strip of green following the river - is Four Corners, CO. Population - oh, about eight.

Click for a larger size

We've finished Deadman Road and have done another "up-n-back" to explore a few miles of the recurring route 80C (the north/south black line to the left of the "Deadman Lookout Tower" on the above map).

After the up-n-back we'llI head to Woods Landing for dinner. Their food takes FOREVER (at least the two times I've been there) but it's worth the wait, which is a good thing as they're the only game in the "town". Don't forget your piece of home made pie (thumbs up on the "Mountain Berry" though the German Chocolate tempted me).

Next door to the Woods Landing cafe / bar / dance hall / campground is the gas station / snack shop / supplies / mini-mart. After topping off with some $$$$ insurance fuel we'll check the GPS for a hopeful shortcut over to Tie Siding WY (instead of heading up to Laramie before coming down on US-287). About five miles south of Woods Landing there's a road heading east to Tie Siding - let's hope. South we head...

Rolling towards our "hopeful" road we come to the roadside sign for the Jelm Mountain Observatory.

A bit of information on this observatory - back on our second trip to the area (this is the third), I spotted a "shining house" atop a mountain. The setting evening sun made stand out. I even took a picture of it (but since I've yet to process those photos I can't show ya right now). So, well, windedly, when we were up with Doug at the lookout tower I saw a sign for the Jelm Mountain Observatory. That "house" I had photographed atop that mountain was the observatory. Another mental list thing - we should see if they have open to the public sessions. Now we're at the side road that'll take us up there - why not - we have enough fuel...

The road to the top was somewhat rugged - rocks mainly, though one patch of sand caught me off guard (stayed upright and moving - dirtbiking with a 500 or 600 pound bike anyone??). One benefit, for better or worse, is that the motor has good power / torque at low rpm's - came in handy on the switchback turns as I'm rolling without first gear for the rest of the season. Instead of pulling the bike apart to work on first gear I figure I can "get by" with it until winter. Two or three of these tighter switchbacks could have used first. All's good though.

Now that we made it to the top of Jelm Mountain let's take some pictures...

Looking down on the twisty ridge top roadway.

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Left is east, right is west

Looking east across the wide valley towards Tie Siding, WY.

180 Degree Panorama
Click for a larger size
Left is south, right is north

This was taken at the western edge of the Jelm Mountain (the observatory is at my back). The concrete pilings (bottom left of the picture) might be from the old lookout tower.

Looking West. The clouds were spitting - nothing to be worried about. Most of the non-asphalt roads are rock - reliable to navigate when wet.

This tidbit is WY-230 just west of Woods Landing. Take it and at the next wide valley (Kings Canyon CO area) take a left and we would be in North Park / Walden CO.

Turning around...

Part way down from the observatory - looking North.

I-80 and Luke's trailer flip about 31 miles N-NW from here. If the mountain wasn't in the way we could see the spot... Straight up from the handlebars.

This map shows our dotted and hopeful valley crossing route. The solid black lines are as far as we made it. As you can see, the map shows MANY gray "roads" in the area. Many of them are ranch roads or long defunct trails.

Old log buildings with a small corral

This style look better?!

Red Mountain
Still not "the" red mountain we're looking for. There are several in the area - there's actually one just 'behind' this one as well. There'll be yet one-more-trip to the area.

Red mountain and the Gyp Quarry Road. Behind me is a gate with a bad sign - "Keep Out / No Trespassing". Our first turn back.

Well, the above road ended at a No Trespassing gate but the map showed one more option - and one that the gps showed as a "higher class road" - not quite - it's a barely visible two-track. It too ended at the same ranch with a similar "No Trespassing" sign. It seems there might not be a cross valley road open to the public.

We've turned back and will re-process the "first of a kind" thing for me. I've passed over many cattle grates but have yet to come across a standard gate. There was no "keep out / no trespassing" sign and no lock. Open gate, move through, close gate. I figure a gate is lower cost and easier to install than a cattle grate so if traffic flow is low enough a gate is fine (which should give us a hint that we were on a low use / dead end road).

Between the above photo and here was a bunch of out of the way asphalt road. Had the cross valley road worked out we'd have come straight across the valley from the west (see those mountains in the background - the observatory would be near the left edge).

Anyway, this final stretch near Tie Siding contained "puddles". Big puddles. Puddles that last a long time. One or two, a novelty not worth a photo. After working around six or seven of them - we'll turn back and take a pic.

Elapsed Time: 10h 54m
Start Time: 9:33a
Distance: 271 Miles GPS, 303 Miles ODO
Average Speed: 25 MPH (max @ 126 GPS on a spirited few second twist of the wrist)
Fuel - volume: 7.915 gal
Fuel - cost: $25.00

$4.78 1.55g $3.08 / Gal Red Feather Lakes - rural / resort
$9.95 2.6g $3.82 / Gal Woods Landing - rural / resort-(ish)
$10.27 3.765g $2.73 / Gal Fort Collins - typical pricing

MPG: 34

Dinner: $14.31 + tip

Highest elevation: 10721 Feet (Parking lot of the Deadman Lookout Tower)
Lowest elevation: 5006 Feet (the north end of town - near the Cache La Poudre River)