The Great Dolomite Alps Panoramic Road, which has its roots in Bolzano, leads across the Karerpass, also known as Passo di Costalunga and has its end in the Central Dolomite Alps in Cortina d'Ampezzo. You may approach the Karerpass either through the Tierser valley and across the Niger pass, or through the Val d'Ega (Val = valley). If you choose the route across the Niger pass, you have chosen the more quiet one with less traffic and the ride passes by below the famous Rosengarten (rose garden massif) massif and most of the time through cool forests and green meadows.
If you choose the way through Eggen valley (ital. Val d'Ega), a relatively good road leads through a deep gorge which the water has eroded over the years. Huge rocks rise close to the road and mighty avalanche shelters still bear witness to the forces of nature. Approximately 3mls before you reach the pass summit, you will find in the middle of a dark evergreen forest one of the most visited place in the Dolomite Alps, typically crowed with busses and hundreds of tourists – the Karersee (ital. Lago di Carezza).Nevertheless, we recommend to NOT miss that place and therefore plan to ride up to here very early in the morning. First of all you will find nearly no tourists and second the lake then is as quiet as a mirror and you can shoot the best picture with the Latemar mountains mirrored in the lakes’ surface. An image photographed millions of times. Depending on the location where you take your picture either the Latemar is reflected in the lake or the Rose Garden Massif. To obtain photos of the Rose Garden Massif however, you need to take a 10min walk around the small lake but it is worthwhile in any case.
When you leave the Karersee, you will reach the Karerpass summit in about 2mls. The summit is more a plateau or a crest. Some hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants, a farmer renting horses, some cows on the meadows but a nice view down to the Fassa valley when you ride to the last hotel on the right hand side. From here on the journey continues through the wooded hills down into the Val di Fassa. Never ever visit the Dolomite Alps in July or August. Especially in those two months the traffic in these mountains is bigger than in rush hour downtown Los Angeles. Half of Europe including Italy is in summer vacation and the traffic jams for many miles since this road is the main tangent to the Sella Ronda and to Cortina d'Ampezzo. Best months to visit the Dolomite Alps by motorbike are the months of May, June and September. Then driving is real fun and you get much more out of it.
The original name of the Karerpass is Carezza, which is derived from the German dialect word "KAR" and does mean “key”. The pass road itself from Bolzano down to Val di Fassa into a village named Vigo is around 40km long with the shorter piece down from the summit to Vigo di Fassa, which is just 8.5 kilometers. The pass summit itself is covered with meadows and some light evergreen woods and is located between the Latemar mountain group and the end of the Latemar Catinaccio. From the pass summit you have a panoramic round view by nearly 360 ° over to the Ortler mountain, to the Cevedale massif and the Adige Valley.