Vines and Vistas: Colorado’s Western Slope Cycling Tour
(includes all lodging, breakfasts and dinners, van shuttles from Denver to Grand Junction prior to tour and from Dotsero to Denver following tour, park entrance fees, support van, leaders, tour maps & narratives)
Dominating the limitless skyscape of western Colorado looms the massive Grand Mesa, the world’s largest mesa. Situated just to the east of Grand Junction between the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers, encompassing almost 500 square miles of wooded timberland and more than 100 crystalline lakes, the Grand Mesa truly is western Colorado’s premier playground. Much of the mesa sits above 10,000 feet in elevation, reaching a maximum of 11,327’ at Crater Peak, clearing towering above the surrounding Grand Valley.
Truth be told, we also inexcusably overlooked Colorado’s wine country for too long. The vast majority of Colorado’s vineyards are concentrated in the Grand Valley and Orchard Mesa between Grand Junction and Palisade, and in the valley of the North Fork of the Gunnison River near Hotchkiss and Paonia. In all, Colorado is home to more than 80 wineries and the highest altitude vineyards in the U.S. The region has received two highly coveted, federally mandated American Viticultural Area (AVA) designations deemed essential for conveying quality.
In the course of this 6-day biking trip, we’ll tour both AVA regions, climb the Grand Mesa that links the two areas, and throw in visits to the Colorado National Monument and a ride along the Colorado River bike trail through Glenwood Canyon before we’re finished.
We’ll assemble in Grand Junction (we’ll provide a van shuttle from the Denver airport) and ride into the Colorado Monument early morning of Day 1. We’ll climb to the monument’s summit along historic Rim Rock Drive in what will be a worthy tune-up for the Grand Mesa. We’ll spend much of the day exploring the park’s stunning red rock formations, including a hike to the sandstone grotto of Devil’s Kitchen. We’ll ride to Palisade later in the afternoon and spend our first of two overnights at the Wine Country Inn.
Day 2 will be devoted to a tour of the many vineyards of the Grand Valley and Orchard Mesa. Early morning of Day 3, the Mesa awaits and we’ll climb from the Colorado River along the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway to its crest, some 6,000 feet above the valley floor. The views of the San Juans to the south are incredible as we begin our descent to Cedaredge, where we’ll spend the night.
We’ll explore the vineyards and wineries along the West Elks Loop on Day 4 and then ride to Paonia and an overnight at the historic Bross Hotel. Day 5, we’ll continue upstream along the North Fork of the Gunnison to the summit of McClure Pass (8,755’), and then plunge into the Crystal River Valley and our final overnight in Redstone at the historic Redstone Inn.
We’ll continue downstream along the Crystal River on our final morning, with grand views of imposing Mt. Sopris much of the way. We’ll join the Roaring Fork bike trail at Carbondale as it follows the Roaring Fork to its confluence with the Colorado in Glenwood Springs. The Roaring Fork Trail joins the Colorado River Trail as it parallels the river through incomparable Glenwood Canyon. The trail ends at the canyon’s east portal near Dotsero, where we’ll load up and van shuttle back to Denver where our Vines to Vista's Cycling Tour concludes.
Tour of the Colorado National Monument—ride the ridge of Rim Rock Drive—hike to Devil’s Kitchen (2 miles)—Palisade; overnight at Wine Country Inn
|Day 2||Tour of Palisade/Grand Valley/Orchard Mesa Vinyards; overnight at Wine Country Inn.||25 miles|
|Day 3||Palisade—Grand Mesa Scenic Byway—Cedaredge||72 miles|
|Day 4||Cedaredge—West Elk Loop—Paonia; overnight at Bross Hotel||52 miles|
|Day 5||Paonia—McClure Pass (8,701’)—Redstone; overnight at Redstone Inn||42 miles|
Redstone—Crystal River Valley—Carbondale—Roaring Fork Bike Trail—Glenwood Springs—Colorado River Trail through Glenwood Canyon—Dotsero; van shuttle return to Denver
Total Mileage: 280