DEL NORTE — With double-digit crews working daily at the corner of French Street and Grande Avenue in Del Norte, the Mellow Moon motel is on track to open before the busy season. When the units and suites are complete, extra beds will cater to a wider range of visitors.
Many travelers passing through Del Norte store gear in their cars, RVs and other vehicles, so an overnight stay provides a chance to relax and let the town cater to dining and lodging. But cyclists and hikers use the town differently. Every year, for example, many Great Divide Race competitors mark Del Norte on the map before they start their mountain bike journey along the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico (or Mexico to Canada). Indiana Pass south of town marks the highest point on the route, offering breath-taking views at 11,910 feet above sea level. Other riders and hikers follow the same path on their own throughout the year, and Del Norte offers the same amenities they need.
Some cyclists and walkers have turned overnight stops in Del Norte to almost a week of discovery and refueling before continuing on their epic journey. They use the post office to send and receive supplies. They stock up at Jack’s Market and tinker with equipment using their own tools or whatever they can leverage from NAPA Auto Parts.
The Mellow Moon provides an infrastructure for long-distance travelers heading coast to coast across the country as well. But the motel can also be a hub with routes radiating to climbing spots in Penitente Canyon, Del Norte Trails Organization trails and hiking routes in all directions.
Jessica Lovelace is driving the project, which took the name “Mellow Moon” from an old restaurant in Salida run by the great-grandmother of Lovelace’s husband. Lovelace shares a love of outdoor activities with her husband, and her professional history designing lodging facilities favors specialty sites. Comfortable and clean, the Mellow Moon will also accommodate dirty bicycle maintenance and storage issues.
Car travelers who check into hotels for a night don’t generally consider laundry. But wardrobes stuffed in saddlebags tend to stink. At full capacity, Mellow Moon guests also have the option to wash clothes and hose down equipment at the Class 5 across Grande Avenue.
As of April 9, the Mellow Moon renovation project continues on track. YouTube videos depict the early phases of Mellow Moon waxing toward full, and crews are currently fixing floors, doors and windows for a new breed of travelers headed to and through Del Norte.