De Beque Cuttoff - 45.5 Road + ADD NEW ROUTE
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NW of Grand Junction, 20 miles on I-70, turn east at Exit 49, Hwy. 65. Go 10 miles to Road 45 ½ , called the De Beque Cuttoff (the start of this route). Now urn north and take 45.1/2 all the way up to De Beque, and I-70 (end of this route).
The start gives a hint of the fun ahead. You can see the rough, jumbled canyon walls that rise up along the road, so you know it will be curvy. The sandstone rocks are broken up to give a different view every few feet of your ride. As you climb to a low pass, you will see homesteads tucked into niches here and there. The pinyon and juniper get more numerous along with the other usual semi-arid plants as the rocks level out somewhat.
Some of the rock layers are quite striking and some cap rocks prevent lower layers of rock from eroding so there are vertical towers and drop-offs all along the first 5 miles. Near the top (there is no actual "pass"), the vegetation gets more sparse and you have long views of the Book Cliffs to the north.
Large trees line the road after dropping down into the irrigated fields of hay around the small ranches along the last mile of road. The ranchers raise mostly horses, but some cattle graze, too.
There are some interesting sights in this lower ranch area, as my photos will show, from old buildings and farm implements, to surprises you'll have to look for. This section, about a mile long, ends by I-70 and can take you into De Beque, a small town.
Newly paved asphalt makes for a super road surface for all but the final mile. You know there will be curves. And there are. The first 5 miles has 41 curves. Some are 20 mph and blind, so high speed isn't advisable, but you can still drag hard parts. The next 6 miles are more open curves and better visibility. There are no wide shoulders, but there are a lot of narrow pull-offs for bikes and photos, but are gravel covered and can be tricky if not careful.
Gas and C-store on the north end, but full services in Grand Junction.
On the east side, just before entering the canyon, there is a small alcove facing Hwy. 65 that has Indian petroglyphs.
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