My days remaining in Colorado were down to the single digits, so my friend Manuel asked me if I’d be up for one final scenic drive before I returned to Spain. We had last done one to Estes Park a few weeks ago.
“Sure,” I replied. “Maybe to Boulder and west of there, like Flagstaff Mountain? I’ve never been there.”
Manuel had been to Flagstaff Mountain once, but it was a long time ago. Anyhow, he was keen on that idea. Manuel, you can guess, shares my passion for cars and driving. We both own convertible sports cars: he has a crystal blue metallic Mazda Miata, while I have an Audi TT Roadster Quattro, which I had named “Teeter.” We decided to meet at 10:30 a.m. at Harbinger Coffee in South Fort Collins, where we enjoyed café lattes outside in the sunny and warm weather.
At Harbinger, we talked about cars, and there was a guy who overheard us who was a Volkswagen enthusiast like Manuel. Like Manuel and I, he had owned mostly manual transmission cars. We had a friendly chat with him and exchanged some tips and stories about our vehicles.
After finishing our coffees, we hit the road and drove through Loveland and Longmont to Boulder. Initially, I thought those miles might be the least scenic, but in fact, they had splendid views of Long’s Peak–which was covered in snow–and the Flatirons. The sky was clear and blue, and the mountains looked majestic.
Along the way, we encountered several other Miatas and a red second-generation Audi TT, both with their tops down. We waved at them and felt a sense of camaraderie. We also saw (heard) some cars with manual transmissions (e.g., a Kia Soul) in Boulder, which made us happy. We love driving stick shift and think it adds more fun and control to the driving experience.
In Boulder, we briefly stopped by Boulder Mountain Park. It was very crowded with people enjoying the outdoors. We took some photos of our cars with the backdrop of the mountains and then continued on up Flagstaff Road. There were many bicyclists on the road despite the steep pitches and tight curves. We admired their stamina and skill as we drove past them.
Eventually, we turned left onto Gross Dam Road. This was dirt and gravel but was fairly smooth. It was no problem for Teeter and Manuel’s Miata. But due to the loose gravel, I wouldn’t want to ride a motorcycle there unless it was of the dual-sport variety. The road wound through the forest and offered glimpses of Gross Reservoir.
Twenty minutes later, we were on the pavement of Highway 72. We continued on to Nederland, a small and historic town that is popular among tourists and locals alike. We stopped in Nederland for lunch at Crosscut Pizza & Taphouse. We ordered the 12-inch “apres-ski pizza” which had bacon and potato. It was quite good and filling.
Before lunch, the first people we encountered happened to be Manuel’s friends from Loveland! His friend Hector is from Mexico so we all started speaking in Spanish right away. The other friend was Hector’s wife Teresa. They have a one-year-old baby who was quiet and cute.
After lunch, we continued north towards Ward. The we descended down Left Hand Canyon Road to Longmont. My last time on this two-lane roadway was when I ascended it on a bicycle 16 years ago. The pavement was fun and twisty which tested our driving skills and our cars’ handling. We enjoyed the thrill of taking the curves at speed while also admiring the scenery of the canyon.
We also saw many motorcycle riders on this road, who seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. They waved at us as they zoomed by. We also spotted some other sports cars like C8 Corvettes, a Porsche Cayman, and a McLaren 570S. They looked sleek and fast, but we were happy with our own cars.
We had dessert (ice cream) at Scrumptious in Longmont. That was essentially the end of the scenic drive, although we still had to drive back to Fort Collins. We agreed that this was the best drive we’ve done together thus far. We had seen so many beautiful sights, ate some good food, and had a blast driving our cars on some of northern Colorado’s most scenic roads.
10:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Route (mapped on milermeter.com)