Demystifying Colorful Colorado

Demystifying Colorful Colorado

Colorado is a mecca of some of the best biking in the country, even the world. The cycling lifestyle is ingrained in the towns that are sprinkled throughout the state’s mountains.  Even with the challenging mountain passes and mellow rail-trails, our goal is to reinforce that you can experience biking in Colorado.

Did you know that there are more than 1,700 miles of paved bike trails throughout Colorado? Although the Rocky Mountains feature intense changes in elevation, we’ve taken advantage of the state’s fantastic bike infrastructure by designing an accessible biking vacation for those of us that live at low altitudes and enjoy flatter routes. Our Colorado bike tour has been carefully constructed to minimize hill climbing and maximize downhill cruising.

Breaking It Down

Only three of the six days on the tour feature noticeable climbs, including the first day of riding between Keystone and Breckenridge. The day features 1,676 feet in elevation gain, sprinkled over 27.2 miles. Challenge yourself to kick it into gear and attempt the whole climb, or take advantage of our Support and Gear van. The van is always an option for those who want to skip a leg of the trip and make a challenging day a little easier.

To help visualize the trip here are the elevation profiles for each day:

Day 1:

Keystone to Breckenridge

27.1 miles / +1,676 feet

We will start the first leg of the trip on Summit County’s paved bike trail, circling Lake Dillon, home of America’s highest yacht club!

After lunch surrounded by the Ten-Mile Range and the Holy Cross Wilderness Area, we will take the Blue River Bikeway to Breckenridge. Before dinner, you’ll have time to explore the town.

Day 2:

Morning – Breckenridge to Copper

19.8 miles / +860 feet

In the morning, we will link back up to the Blue River Bikeway to Frisco. After a ride up the 10 Mile Trail, the van will be waiting for us for a shuttle from Copper Ski Resort to Gypsum.

Afternoon – Gypsum to Glenwood Springs

20.8 miles / +612 feet

After lunch, a fun descent through Glenwood Canyon takes us right to Glenwood Hot Springs, the world’s largest hot springs pool. Take a nice long soak to wind down for the evening.

Day 3:

Glenwood Springs to Redstone Inn

29.8 miles / +1,675 feet

Take advantage of the hot springs one more time before jumping on the Rio Grande Trail, which gently climbs up the Roaring Fork River Valley. Experience the town of Carbondale for lunch before heading south for 10-miles on the Crystal River Trail to Redstone.

Day 4:

Redstone to Jaffe Park

39.1 miles / +1,696 feet

We start the day off with a 16-mile downhill cruise to Carbondale and experience the Rio Grande ARTway before heading up valley toward Jaffe Park. From the park, we will get a shuttle up to Maroon Bells, which is one of Colorado’s most photographed sites.

Maroon Bells to Aspen

10.6 miles / +97 feet

After experiencing the Maroon Bells, enjoy a smooth 10-miles downhill to our lodging in Aspen.

Day 5:

Leadville to Red Cliff

34.4 miles / +1,714 feet

After getting a shuttle over Independence Pass, we will ride around the Mineral Belt Trail and meander the streets of Leadville’s historic district. Then a short 3-mile climb on the 10th Mountain Division Highway takes us to the Continental Divide. A 13-mile descent greets us on the other side of Tennessee Pass.

Day 6:

Vail Pass to Silverthorn

20.2 miles / +226 feet

We will finish our ride through the Rockies with a gorgeous 12-mile downhill ride from Vail Pass.

By The Numbers

As you can see, several days feature great downhill riding or gradual rolling changes in elevation. Once you break down the numbers on some of the longer climbs, they start to look even less intimidating. On day 4 from Redstone to Jaffe Park, the climbing portion of the day rises 1,318 feet in 21.7 miles. That means that the average grade of the trail is only 1%. We could do the math for every climb, and they all end up between an average grade of 1% to 3%. There may be some challenges, but the trip will be overwhelmingly rewarding.

The biggest aspect to consider is the high elevation of the trip. The majority of riding occurs above 6000 feet, but don’t let that deter you from a trip of a lifetime. We’ve created a guide for Colorado bike tour altitude riding tips.

“A marvelous tour! Great riding and special sights. We felt comfortable while being challenged. Definitely recommend.” – Michael Ryan Colorado Bike Tour Reviews

Rio Grande ARTway

Throughout the trip, you may be easily distracted by the sights to even notice the gradual increase in elevation. On day 4, you’ll experience the Rio Grande Trail‘s ARTway as you ride through the eccentric town of Carbondale. The ARTway features funky, thought provoking art to explore.

Through a collaboration between Carbondale Arts and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, a one-mile stretch of the trail was turned into a creative placemaking project. The park displays the values and creativity that are important to the community of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Previously a railway for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, the 42-mile paved multi-use path connects Glenwood Springs to Aspen through the Roaring Fork Valley. Train operations ceased in phases from 1960s to the mid 1990s. By 1997, the corridor was purchased with a combination of funding by local governments, Great Outdoors Colorado, Pitkin County Open Space and Trails, and the Colorado Department of Transportation. Today, the rails to trails project provides transportation and recreation along the Roaring Fork River.

Wilderness Voyageurs operates fully supported, inn-to-inn bicycle tours across the United States, offering more rail-trail tours and biking destinations than any other U.S. based bike tour company. Call us at 800-272-4141 to chat with a trip specialist.