Riding the Narrows of the Big Thompson Canyon

Posted on 16th April 2009 by Electra Glide In Blue in Living,Motorcycle Runs - Tags: , , ,

The Big Thompson Canyon is a heavily wooded area of scenic beauty with rugged cliffs and high mountains bordering the Big Thompson River. As you enter the canyon heading west out of Loveland on Hwy 34, you find yourself in what we locals call the Narrows. The road follows the river, and winds around walls of granite, some rising thousands of feet in the air. Remember to keep your eyes on the road.
When you first enter the Narrows, you go under what we call the tube. This is a nine-foot wide syphon pipe that carries water from Carter Lake into Horsetooth Reservoir above Fort Collins. Back on July 31 1976 this syphon pipe was completely sheared off at the sides of the mountain during the Big Thompson Flood.


Thousands were enjoying themselves in the Big Thompson Canyon area near Rocky Mountain National Park in the evening of July 31st when a most usual storm gathered overhead. The scale of the resulting flood caught everyone by surprise. The record flood waters rumbled down the narrow canyon (see picture below) taking out everything in is path. Officials would later report 145 dead and $41,000,000 in damage.

Photo by W. R. Hansen, USGS. Aug. 1, 1976

In this shot My 68 FLH is parked in the area were the pavement ends in the above photo.


About in the middle of the Narrows


After only 1.83 miles you clear the narrows and ride into the open canyon.


I just needed to clear my head so I dropped down into Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park to take in the sites and sounds of the Big Thompson river.


I then headed back to town and reality. Ride Safe.

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  1. nice ride report, I’ve done this ride a couple of times and it’s very enjoyable….was not aware of the flood, thanks for the historical background.

    Comment by charlie6 — April 16, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  2. Thank you for these pictures, and your ride report! One more place I want to/need to visit!

    Comment by chessie — April 16, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

  3. Nice report and pics. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Canajun — April 19, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

  4. I never rode this route on motorcycle, only in a car and that was many many years ago… maybe this summer I’ll find my way there. Great photos. ;)

    Comment by Jovita jovikloess.blogspot.com — April 22, 2009 @ 8:29 am

  5. Nice pic and good artical thanks guys

    Comment by motorcycle9 motorcycle9.com — May 10, 2009 @ 2:19 am

  6. [...] second time and I hung a left onto County Road 29. Any farther west and I’d be dropping into the Big Thompson Canyon, which wasn’t a bad idea I thought, but I wanted to get high today and look to the east. A good [...]

    Pingback by Rattlesnake Reservoir | Electra Glide In Blue — March 18, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

  7. [...] up we took hwy 34 up through the narrows of the Big Thompson Canyon into Estes Park and entered the Park via the Fall River Road North entrance. Following this we [...]

    Pingback by Map Your Motorcycle Ride | Electra Glide In Blue — June 3, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

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