The dirt roads were the famed Colorado Champagne gravel that is so packed it is just a little rougher than a paved road.
Even on a holiday weekend and mid-day, the car traffic was very low.
The route features beautiful scenery with breath-taking views of Mount Sopris and pretty yellow flowers decorating the roadside.
The elevation gain on this route IS quite challenging. However, we loved the flow of this ride, with alternating long ups, followed by long downs and gravel and pavement changing at just the right time.
On Labor Day Weekend, the temperature was very HOT (high 90ºs), and the roads have very little shade.
The turn around point doesn't have much that is exciting. (Basically, there is a park-and-ride, the Roaring Fork River and a gas station/convenience store. We wished there was a coffee shop. (You could cross the river and take a left on the Rio Grande Trail and be in Basalt in about another 4 miles.)
Do this ride if you are a road cyclist looking to test the gravel biking waters. There are long sustained climbs and speedy downhills like Colorado road cyclists will be familiar with, and the gravel sections aren't technical or intimidating.
We parked at the North Face Park in Carbondale which had easy access to the Carbondale bike path. There was plenty of public parking and a port-a-potty.
Because of the sun exposure, and tough climbing, we would recommend carrying more water than you typically do!
Along Prince Creek Road there are camping sites and multiple vault toilets.
Also, there is easy single track mountain bike trails which you will see along the left side of Prince Creek Rd. We'd planned to jump on them on our return trip but the temps were up to the high 90ºs and we just wanted to be done after all the climbing. They do look fun though!
If you wanted to end your ride with food or drinks, you could continue one mile on the Carbondale bike path, and get off on Weant Blvd. This will take you main street and basically right to Carbondale Beer Works!