Adventure of the Week: All-terrain vehicles
Hahn’s Peak — The only real memory I have of being on an all-terrain vehicle is of me — probably in elementary school — sitting on the back, terrified, as my cousin took us over a small hill on his family ranch in south-central Kansas.
For whatever reason, I never took to motorized vehicles when I was growing up. Boats, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, go karts, jet skis — all these cool things most people love, I was never comfortable riding.
This has changed with age, and today, I find all of them thrilling in their own way. However, my history of fearing them has tended to make them a last option when it comes to my recreational activities.
Then came Thursday, when I had the chance to spend two hours on an ATV with Zac Riley, head snowmobile and ATV guide at Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse in North Routt. All I can say is, two hours wasn’t nearly long enough to replace all the time I’ve never had on one.
“Usually, it’s a little more than what people expect,” Riley said. “A lot of people think we are just doing dirt roads around the parking lot, or something. And then, I get them out on trails.”
Riley saddled me on a small Honda 250, provided some basic instructions on how to operate the ATV and off we went. With us was a family of four that had been staying in nearby Columbine.
The first few miles were rocky, no pun intended. It took a while for me to get used to the throttle and the brakes and especially the shifting. Right out of the gate — again, no pun intended — we were tested with some nice, deep ruts that made me feel as if I was going to tip over and some mud puddles I wasn’t yet prepared for.
Soon enough, however, my comfort level grew, and Riley decided to push us higher.
“It varies, group to group, what trails I’m going to do. Whoever is guiding, it’s their discretion,” Riley said. “We kind of cater to whoever is out here and make sure everybody has a good time. Everybody wants something different.”
Seeing that we were all competent in handling the ATVs, Riley guided us up Hahn’s Peak (10,839 feet), North Routt’s iconic landmark. We weren’t able to get the ATVs to the actual peak, but we couldn’t have been more than 500 feet below it, meaning we probably gained a solid 2,000 feet of elevation from the Roadhouse (8,100 feet).
The return trip was more enjoyable, probably because of the comfort level. I had no problem pushing the ATV on the straightaways and took joy in plowing through any mud puddles we could find. As happy as I was when the tour ended (I regretted not eating lunch before my 11:30 a.m. tour started), I could have easily ridden the rest of the day, had that been an option.
Located on Routt County Road 129 just across from Steamboat Lake, Hahn’s Peak Roadhouse offers both two-hour and four-hour ATV tours, the longer of which also takes you around Farwell Mountain and provides you with lunch.
Two-hour tours start at $120 per person and happen three times per day. You must be 16 with a valid driver’s license to operate an ATV, but there are multi-seat ATV options for those just wanting to ride along.
ATV tours started this week at the Roadhouse, and its permits, which allow it to access some of the private land that leads to the National Forest, run through October. Starting in early December, it breaks out the snowmobiles for similar tours.
For more information, visit hahnspeakroadhouse.com.
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