Episode 41: Motorcycling to Colorado Hidden Cafes, Porches, Coffee Shops and More!

Episode 41: Motorcycling to Colorado Hidden Cafes, Porches, Coffee Shops and More!

Are you planning a motorcycle trip to Colorado?  Maybe visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park region?  Oh, we need to talk.  Ha ha.  This is my 25th year of living and motorcycling all around Northern Colorado. This is a great place to ride!   As a tour guide in the National Park, spending a lot of time up in the mountains, I have gotten to know of those really special places that are not in the guidebooks and I love sharing the info with you!  

You and I know that when you take a trip by motorcycle, the real fun of your vacation begins not when you’ve reached your destination, but it begins as soon as you back you motorcycle out of the garage.  We are so lucky as riders that the fun begins right away.  That’s what you’ll find as you ride to these destinations that I’ll be describing, cool places that are a whole lot of fun to ride to and these places are relatively unknown, and I don’t know why.

Be ready to take some notes because today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite hidden cafes, porches, coffee shops and maybe a couple of surprises, all to be found here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  Thank you for joining me today!

If you have not already checked the website, MotoCoffeeStops.com, you may like to review that.  It’s on that website that a couple of years ago, I started listing some of my favorite coffee shops and fun motorcycle maps to reach them there.  There’s one coffee shop that I’ll describe today that’s not yet on the motocoffeestops site list, but I will be adding that one soon.

Most of these places I’ll describe, few people seem to know about.  These are some of the hidden spots, small cafes within log cabins along small roads next to the river, a public porch with just unbelievable view of the lake below and the snow capped mountains above, and family owned and operated coffee shops where the baristas enjoy having a conversation with you as they make your carmel latte, all off the busy tourist route.  These are an opportunity to ride through the most beautiful of uncrowded locations and meet the friendly locals over a meal or a cup of coffee.  These are some of my favorite destinations.

Here’s the thing.  We need to keep this information as…. Our little secret.  We don’t want these places to get too crowded right?  Just our special places for the Peace Love Moto community.  

I dedicated three previous Episodes to travel tips for Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding National Forest.  Those are Episodes 21, 22 and 23.  I would recommend beginning with those because that’s where I share the when, where and how details.  For example, when is a great time in mid-summer to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?  I always recommend visiting 2 weeks after the July 4th holiday, and visiting on a Monday through Thursday.  Why July?  Well that’s when all of the highest elevation roads will be fully open, such as Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road.  So for 2024, that would be starting on Monday, July 15th.  There are lots of things to do outside of the National Park, visit those on Friday through Sunday.  Visit the National Park on less busy days such as Monday through Thursday.  Ok, that’s a hint, but yeah, check out Episodes 21, 22 and 23 for all the details.

OK let’s start of the Eastern side of the Continental Divide, or what we locals call the Eastern Slope.

I’ll begin with my favorite coffee shop here in Loveland, Colorado.  It’s called Jamoka Joes and it’s owned by my friend Christine.   The self-proclaimed "Soul Center of the Universe", Jamoka Joe's is a genuine hippie shack.  Park your bike in front and step up to the window to order your specialty coffee, smoothie and snacks.  Relax in the 1970's vintage seating under the shade trees.  Ah, now this is how to enjoy an afternoon! 

OK, so make sure you have a full take of gas, and let’s ride up into the mountains.  Mountain Meadow Cafe in Allenspark, Colorado, just off of the Peak to Peak Highway to the South of Estes Park on the relatively hidden Business Route 7, not to be confused with the main route of highway 7 which runs in parallel to it.  The Peak to Peak Highway, by the way, is just like it sounds.  Completely amazing, high altitude, and so much fun to ride on a motorcycle.  Be prepared to cooler temperatures up this high and for rapidly changing weather.  Some of the snow-capped mountains you’ll see to the west make up the Continental Divide.  Yeah this is an amazing experience just to get here.  

As for the Cafe, it’s in an old cabin right near a small river called Willow Creak.  The sign on the front door says it all.  It says “This is not fast food.  Rest and Relax”.  Oh I love that.  

I have to share with you this review about Mountain Meadow Cafe:  “AWESOME cinnamon rolls! Good food! NICE people! WARM Rustic mountain atmosphere.”  Now that was just the subject line for this review.  Ha ha.

This is a SMALL mountain restaurant in Allenspark Co (about 30 minutes or so away from Estes Park Co) I LOVE restaurants that are just like Meadow Mountain Cafe=small, quaint, have some soul- owned and operated by a family for 3 generations. People who are friendly and care about the food they cook and the people they serve. It's a funky interior and maybe seats a couple dozen visitors, so if you have to wait, don't be impatient - ITS WORTH THE WAIT - go take a walk in the beautiful Rocky Mountains! You simply must try the cinnamon rolls - they have some good vegan options too (which is so rare to find these days)

Personally, I’ve had both breakfast and lunch here over the years and it’s just fantastic.  The food is certainly great, but it’s the atmosphere and service that I especially appreciate. From a motorcycling standpoint, yes, as I’ve described, getting to Allenspark from really any direction is really beautiful.  As for parking a motorcycle?  Well, hey, this is part of the adventure too!  There’s no real parking lot as you might call.  Its like a dirt slope, so pick your spot carefully, of course leave your bike in gear, and yeah, hope for the best!

Salto Coffee, Nederland, Colorado.  That’s spelled Salto.  Yep, a strange name, but this is another hidden gem, at the end of one of the small backstreets of the hippie village of Nederland.  Dirt roads in this part of town.  What’s cool too is that Salto is in a building that’s styled like a barn, and they share that space with a mountain bike shop.  

Salto is not just a coffee shop, but makes some wonderful, unique food including pastries.  Salto is a female owned business.  It’s a very hippie vibe inside.  

Their moto is:  “WHEN WE BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER OVER GREAT FOOD OR THE PERFECT ESPRESSO, OUR CUP IS FULL”.  That to me, really shows the heart of the owner.  “When we bring people together, our cup is full.”   Yeah I like that .  This is designed as a gathering place and I certainly have felt welcome there over the years.  They care about people and that means a lot. 

OK, let’s cross the Continental Divide to the West side, or as we call it, the Western Slope, for a couple more spots that surprisingly, a lot of people seem to miss.

The Grand Lake Lodge in, surprise, Grand Lake, Colorado.  It’s the porch that does it for me.  Find a seat on the porch, look straight ahead and you’ll see Grand Lake below and snow-capped mountains above.  Sit here as long as you want.  No charge.  Watch the tourists coming from sea level as they struggle to climb the steep stairs.  Ha ha.  I shouldn’t laugh, Hey I remember what it was like when my family and I moved out here.  We could hardly breath because of the altitude.  

As far as getting to Grand Lake, through late Spring, Summer and most of Fall, you can cross Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road, coming from East to West from Estes Park.  Or if you’re coming from the West, like from Winter Park or Granby, take the road to Rocky Mountain National Park and just before the park entrance, you’ll see the small sign for the Grand Lake Lodge.  

The Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater is located in the village of Grand Lake. It’s hard to believe that such a small, remote mountain town can host such talent, but it does.  My wife and I have seen any number of musicals like Hello Dolly and The Sound of Music.  The Rep, as it is known to locals, has a very rich history dating back to the 1960s. These actors and musicians are real pros so come to take in a show, and if you need to stay the night.  Now I’ve already mentioned the Grand Lake Lodge, but I’ve not stayed the night there so I don’t have an opinion, but we have stayed a number of nights at the Gateway Inn which has a wonderful porch of it’s own!

Let’s wrap up with another really great coffee shop.  Rocky Mountain Rostery, Granby, Colorado.  So Granby is also on the Western Slope and very near Grand Lake.  I like the setting of this coffee shop but it’s the people working there that I’ve most appreciated.  They’ll carry on a conversation with you as they make your vanilla latte.  One time when I motorcycled there, I came in and noticed the most beautiful song playing.  The first thing I did was ask the barista about it and that launched into the most wonderful conversation about the meaning of that song.  That just made my day.  I think I rode 3 or 4 hundred miles that day, but it was the half hour at that little coffee shop, that conversation, that I most remember.

Well, I hope that you’ve enjoyed our little visit today.  There will be lots of hidden gems that I’ll be sharing with you in the near future.  If you want to learn more or want to share your favorite spots that you enjoy riding too, please drop me a line at ron@peacelovemoto.com.  I’d love to hear from you and share your recommendations on the podcast.  Hey maybe you need to come on to the podcast and share it with us!  I’d love to have you.

I’ve so enjoyed this chat today as together.  Hope you did too.

Thank you for listening!  Until next time.  I wish you peace.  I wish you love.

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