Colorado Rocky Mountain High Cycling Tour
Assembly Point: Gunnison
(includes all lodging, breakfasts and dinners, support van, shuttles between Denver and Gunnison, leaders, tour maps & narratives)
Believe it or not, the least significant criteria that we consider as we develop our new biking trips is whether or not that program will “sell.” If saleability was the controlling criteria, we likely wouldn’t be sitting here writing about Colorado Rocky Mountain High. For us, it’s all about content. If our wild ideas coalesce into something that we absolutely can’t wait to be a part of in the season ahead, we then feel that we’ve created something that has to become a part of our program.
Colorado is our home and in our utter arrogance, we believe that we know every “nook and cranny” in this state. Who, other than Coloradans, has heard of Taylor Canyon, Taylor Park, the Collegiates, Poncha Pass and South Park, Slumgullion Pass or Lake City? None rise to the level of familiarity as do Vail, Breckenridge, Aspen and Telluride. But make no mistake, these relatively obscure, off-the-beaten-path locations become the components of an incredible cycling experience for anyone who craves a high-alpine cycling adventure to remember.
Colorado Rocky Mountain High Cycling Tour assembles in Gunnison on Colorado’s Western Slope in the heart of the Gunnison River Valley. We’ll ride north out of the valley on Day 1 to exciting Crested Butte, one of Colorado’s many historic 19th-century mining camps that has been transformed into a modern-day, world-class ski resort. We’ll arrive early enough to hike near the historic ghost town of Gothic that afternoon.
We’re headed back to Gunnison the following morning, but yesterday’s 30-mile warm-up becomes a 72-mile adventure as we turn up Taylor Canyon and trace the 16-mile course of the beautiful Taylor River to it’s source among the high peaks that surround Taylor Park. For us, we’re coming back to Taylor Park following an absence of many years, to an area that we have always thought of as one of the most beautiful locations we have ever experienced. At some point, we’ll have to turn around, descend through Taylor Canyon and on to Gunnison, where we’ll spend the evening.
We’ll ride east from Gunnison on Day 3, gradually gaining elevation on our approach to Monarch Pass. Our climb up Monarch gets serious at Sargents and continues for the next 10 miles, ultimately cresting at the Continental Divide (11,312'). It’s then downhill along the South Fork of the Arkansas River to Salida, where we’ll spend the evening.
Early morning of Day 4, we’ll climb moderately from the Arkansas River Valley to Poncha Pass (9,010') and then drop into the San Luis Valley. We’ll ride the tablelands of this high mountain valley toward the Eastern San Juans and on to South Fork, where we’ll spend the evening.
Day 5 is yet another illustration of the joys of cycling in Colorado. We’ll climb gently along the Rio Grande River to Creede and on to the headwaters of this great river. One can’t help but notice the absence of any meaningful motor vehicle traffic as our climb continues to the Continental Divide at Spring Creek Pass (10,901'). Not much reason for travel between South Fork and Lake City, but who’s complaining? Our climb ultimately crests at Slumgullion Pass (11,361') and then it’s downhill, and we mean downhill, all the way into Lake City, where we’ll spend our final night and enjoy a memorable dinner at the Alpine Moose. We’ll then trace the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River from Lake City to Blue Mesa Lake on our final day as we return to Gunnison where our Colorado Rocky Mountain High Cycling Tour concludes.
|Day 1||Gunnison—Crested Butte; afternoon hiking options.||28 miles|
|Day 2||Crested Butte—Taylor Park/Taylor Reservoir—Gunnison||72 miles|
|Day 3||Gunnison—Monarch Pass (11,312’)—Salida.||64 miles|
|Day 4||Salida—Poncha Pass (9,010’)—San Luis Valley—Saguache—Del Norte-- South Fork.||95 miles|
|Day 5||South Fork—Rio Grande River—Creede—Spring Creek Pass (10,901’)—
Slumgullion Pass (11,361’)—Lake City.
|Day 6||Lake City—Blue Mesa Lake—Gunnison.||55 miles|
Total Mileage 388