Because of Covid, the motel could not really serve any food but they did provide us with a breakfast bag with instant oatmeal and tasteless, chewy energy bars. We headed from the Raton Pass Motor Inn north on I-25, up the pass and then down into Trinidad, Colorado. In Trinidad, we turned off on CO-12, a magnificently scenic two-lane blacktop. Soon, we came to Stonewall, which has a gigantic stone wall tilted up at about 85 degrees that turns out to be only about 12 feet thick but which is maybe 200 feet high and extends from horizon to horizon. We passed through the wall and then ascended Cuchara Pass, up to about 9000 feet before dropping down the other side to US-160 where we turned West, up the East side of the Continental Divide.
After an hour or so on 160, we pulled into the farming community of Alamosa where we stopped to dine in a barbecue joint called Woody’s Q. They had fabulous ribs and it is entirely possible at least one of us ate too much. From there we continued on US-160, climbing steeply up the East face of the Rockies until we crossed over Wolf Creek Pass. It is a stark, alpine climate zone at the top (12,000 feet) before dropping down the West side of the pass and divide on a very steep road with a couple truck escape ramps for those that were unable to control their loads when descending. The highway is very steep with grades exceeding 10% for long sections. There are some hairpin turns, switchbacks and plainly visible snow poles on the side of the road. There have been many messy, although probably spectacular, instances of trucks getting out of control and ending up totally destroyed in the rocky canyons alongside the road. An old country-western caterwauler named C. J. McCall sang a redneck ditty about making a barely controlled descent from this pass and ending up in “downtown Pagosa Springs.”
At the bottom of the pass is, indeed, Pagosa Springs where we pulled into the Alpine Inn, a thoroughly unremarkable hotel. Our request for a disabled room was ignored and when I inquired, the person at the desk indicated all the disabled access rooms (if any) were being renovated. There was no visible construction equipment, activity or personnel visible anywhere. Inside our room we found a tiny, virtually inaccessible toilet, no grab bars, bath and room doors that are so poorly fitted that it looks like they were installed in the wrong size openings and the racket from US-160, which runs right next door, was plainly audible throughout the night. I suggest staying elsewhere.