This is my last week working remotely for a company out of New York and one of the last opportunities I’ll have to saddle up at 3:00 in the afternoon on a weekday and put a couple hundred miles in before dinner time. Although the Mirror Lake Highway is one of my favorite rides near the Salt Lake Valley, it’s been a while since I took the journey over Bald Mountain Pass.
Like many great rides out of Salt Lake, it’s starts on I-80 climbing over Parley’s Canyon. Fortunately it doesn’t take long before you are off the Interstate and headed into Kamas, the gateway to the Mirror Lake Highway. The 20 degree drop in temperature going over the pass is only part of what makes this ride so enjoyable—it was 80 degrees pulling out of my driveway and 60 degrees at the top of the pass.
This beautiful stretch of highway is a perfect example of where I prefer to ride. I consider the Interstate as only a way to get where I really want to go (although my new 2017 Road King gobbles up freeway miles like they are nothing). Although the ride is beautiful, it’s been sad to watch the decline of the forest as the pine beetles continue to destroy acres of beautiful pine.
Although you can do this ride as an out and back, instead of turning around at Bald Mountain or the cabins at Bear River Station, I decided to make a loop and continued on into Evanston and return via I-80. The stretch from Bear River Station to the Evanston city limits is nice two-lane highway through the farm country of southwestern Wyoming.
Although the speed limit is about 70, you’ll need to watch out for livestock along the highway through here. In addition to the moose I passed on the back side of the pass I had to share the road with a number of sheep and a couple of milk cows that had wandered onto the road. Much of rural Utah and Wyoming is considered open range, so it’s not uncommon to see livestock on the side of the road.
I had a quail run into the bike once and can only imagine what a sheep or a cow might feel like. After the quail, my leg smarted for a few days. I don’t think I’d get up after hitting a cow.
It’s amazing what a little bit bigger frame, a bigger engine, and a more comfortable suspension will do. Although I never thought I was really uncomfortable on the ‘04 Twin Cam Road King, this bike is a delight on the Interstate. She gobbles up miles with aplomb and will significantly increase my daily range on a tour. When I got back home I don’t think I’d realized I’d done a little over 200 miles.