Road Biking in Durango Colorado
If there is one activity that Durangoens love above most others, its gotta be bike riding. Roadies rule the road
here and it's no wonder as there are some of the most spectacular highways in America crossing a wide variety of
terrain. You get high mountains with MONSTER climbs, low desert valleys, river views, lake views, canyon views, rural
farmland and fresh clean air. The ride from Durango to Silverton alone makes it to the bucket list for people from all
over the world. It's no wonder so many professional riders come to Durango to train. "It's just an awesome place to
Now down to the brass tacks (or titanium chainrings if you prefer) and where the groovy places to ride in Durango are.
First, roadies follow..well.. Roads. So you have the option of just using our maps page to look at all the highways and
roads or following a few of the popular loops we have marked.
Durango to Silverton
Let's start with the big one, the ride from Durango to Silverton. This 48 mile ride begins in Durango and can follow hwy
550 North (or CR 250 which will meet up with 550 at Bakers Bridge) and is a good ride for intermediate through expert
riders. Elevation gain is 6,512 feet beginning, peak of 10,900 feet at the summit of Molas Pass, 6,700 feet of climb
with some long steep sections leading up to Coal Bank Pass that will test the lungs. This particular route is utilized
during the annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic bike race which takes place every May and attracts thousands of
professional and amateur riders from all over the world. For more information on the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, visit
our calendar of events page for the month of May.
Long & Short Valley Loops (Long Valley: Baker’s Bridge Loop &
Short Valley: Tremble Loop)
One of the most popular "Long Valley" loops is the Bakers Bridge Loop.
This ride follows CR 250 (see our map) north about 15 miles and will cross
the famous Bakers Bridge where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
was filmed. About ¼ mile past the bridge you will catch hwy 550 back
south (left) until you get to CR 203 in Hermosa where you will make a left
and follow CR 203 which parallels hwy 550 but has less traffic. Total ride is
about 30 miles and has little elevation gain so it can be whipped out fairly
quickly. Good for riders in the intermediate through expert range and is
great for cadence monitoring. The Short version of this same route called
"The Short Valley" or Tremble Loop follows north along CR 250 and
instead of going all the way to Bakers Bridge you turn left (west) on CR
252. This takes you across hwy 550 and over to CR 203 where you make
a left (south) back to Durango. Total distance is about 15 miles and is
good for beginner through expert riders.
Durango to Pagosa
Another "big" ride is from Durango to Pagosa Springs Colorado which is a 60 miler one way. This one is fairly straight
forward in that you take highway 160 (see our map) east all the way to Pagosa Springs. This ride has a few hills to
climb but not too many major "grunts" and the peak elevation is about 7,800 feet with approximately 3,100 feet of
ascent. Look for heavy traffic during the usual morning and evening work commute on this route especially between
Durango and Bayfield.
Durango to Bayfield Loop
A fun and very popular upper medium ride is the Durango to Bayfield loop which is a 45 mile trip that takes you
through some beautiful river valleys and nice farmland. You start out from Durango and take CR 240 (Florida Road)
(see our map) for about 14 miles and then make a right onto CR 501. Follow this until you reach hwy 160 in Bayfield
and make a right (west) which will take you back to Durango. There are a few moderate climbs along CR 240 that are
a good challenge. Peak elevation is 7,900 feet with about 3,000 feet of climbing to do along the way.
Gandview Loop (AKA Elmore’s Corner Loop)
For a quick 23 mile "lunch ride" you can do the Grandview Loop also known locally as the Elmore's Corner Loop. You
start out once again on Florida Road (see our map) which is also CR 240. Follow this until you reach 234 where you
will make a right (next to the fire station) which will drop you out at hwy 160. Make a right on 160 and head back into
town. You will get almost 1,200 feet of climb and look for heavy traffic during normal going to work times.
Wildcat Canyon Loop
The other upper medium ride with a good climb for the first half of the ride is known as the "wildcat canyon loop". You
start out by taking hwy 160 west (see our map) all the way to Hesperus Colorado which is about 12 miles and includes
the aforementioned climb. Hesperus hill is a good steady grunt that will get you plenty warmed up and appreciate the
easy drop back to town. Once you reach Hesperus you will make a left (south) on hwy 140 and take another left onto
hwy 141 (wildcat canyon road) which will drop you right back onto hwy 160 and back to town. A fun alternative which
takes you past the new lake (Nighthorse Lake) and onto hwy 160 "east" is to take a right off of wildcat canyon road
onto CR 210. This alternative also has a little less traffic and will almost drop you onto the Animas River Trail. If you
wish to forgo the Hesperus hill climb you can always do the route in reverse! Total distance is about 34 miles with
almost 1,900 feet of climbing. This is also a very pretty ride in the fall with the trees changing color.
Weaselskin Bridge Ride (AKA La Posta Road)
This ride is fast becoming one of the most popular road bike routes in the Durango area and is even being utilized
competitively! Its quick, has a descent shoulder, lighter traffic and a beautiful rural backdrop that make it attractive to
road bike enthusiasts. This is a fairly straight forward out and back that you can do whatever distance fits your ability
level and can be started from just about anywhere you like (see our map). The La Posta Road (CR213) runs south
from Durango following the Animas River and ends where it connects to hwy 550 (Bondad). It is about 13.5 miles from
the Dallabetta Bridge to the end or about 14.5 miles from downtown Durango and is a great ride for intermediate to
expert cyclists. A beginner might consider this one because it is more of an out and back and there are not too many
heavy hills to climb. Just keep in mind that this route is very rural and there are no facilities until you get back to town.
You "could" complete a ride by following hwy 550 back to Durango and doing a loop but the amount of traffic and
limited shoulder room makes it very unappealing. A popular "half way" ride is the 5.5 mile out to Weaselskin Bridge
and back. To get there you can simply use our interactive map but it is quite easy to find. Going South out of Durango
you will turn West on River Road (next to Home Depot) and you can park your car at the Dallabetta Park next to the
Animas River. You can also follow the paved Animas River Trail from just about anywhere in Durango to the Dallabetta
Bridge and then head south on La Posta road. From the park your beginning elevation is about 6452' and you will
have a gradual drop for the first five miles to a low elevation of about 6054'. You will begin your mid ride gradual climb
for about 4.5 miles to another peak elevation of 6455' and then the final descent of about 4.5 miles to the end. The end
elevation is about 6066'. The cool thing is that the ride back gives you about the same amount of climb and drop as the
way in which makes it great for training. This ride follows along the Animas River through areas of beautiful farmland
and ranches and the road at the time of this writing is in great shape.
Its fast, it's fun, it's beautiful give it a spin!
The Death Ride (AKA: Durango to Telluride Loop)
If you wish to do an adventure that many claim is a once in a lifetime spectacular road biking trip consider this. Take
Hwy 550 North out of Durango and go 70 miles to Ouray. This will take you over three mountain passes including Coal
Bank, Molas, and Red Mountain. Ouray is an awesome high mountain town where you can stay the night and soak in
the hot springs. The next day you leave Ouray and continue to follow hwy 550 until you reach Ridgeway where you
will make a left onto hwy 62. This will take you across the Dallas Divide and after about 20 miles you will make a left
onto hwy 145 near Placerville. Follow hwy 145 for about 56 miles until you reach Telluride. After 76 miles of some of
the most amazing highway on earth you will be very ready for the funky coolness of ToHellYouRide (Telluride). Stop,
get a beer and hang out because the climbing ain't over by a longshot. After a day of rest you will take hwy 145
southwest out of Telluride and hope your legs are still
able to peddle you over one more Colorado Mountain
pass because Lizard Head Pass at this point in the game
is a killa. It will hit you right out of town which is one
heck of a warm up but will take you over some more
spectacular mountain highway. After about 28 miles you
will come to the town of Rico where you can stop and
take a quick break before the push to Dolores. From
Rico to Dolores is a steady river valley road that winds
its way through lush mountain ranches and incredible
aspen groves. At long last you will reach the town of
Dolores. This is about a 65 mile stretch and you will be
VERY ready for a stop for the night and to visit another
pub. With all the climbs over high mountain passes, the
last leg of the journey will seem like child's play. After all
it's only about 46 miles and no major passes right?
RIGHT! Take 145 southwest out of town and then make
a left onto hwy 184 towards Mancos. Once you reach
Mancos make a left at the light on hwy 160 back to
Durango! "I have done this trip and talked to people that
have made it a point in their life to make it and it has
changed them forever. It is truly a ride to remember."
Riders should be in good physical condition to attempt
this loop and many should consider a support vehicle in
case of mechanical failure, inclimate weather or fatigue.
This loop does not have to be completed in this exact
millage order and there are other small towns to stop for
a break. Be sure to carefully plan your trip and make
reservations in advance for motels or campgrounds so
as to avoid vacancy issues. Also mention what you are
doing as there are usually groups of people sometimes
from other countries that you can join up with and share
in the adventure.
When to Road Bike
When to ride the roads of the Durango Southwest? Well, any time but winter is great which would be April through
October. "My personal favorite is in the fall when the weather is cool and the trees are changing." September through
October. Look for rains to be more common in the late afternoons in late summer but usually only lasting an hour or
two. During the summer there are quite a few races which you can see on our Calendar of Events Page or any of the
local clubs are always willing to allow a drop in for a quick ride. If you need parts, accessories, rental or even a new
hyper cool bike Durango has some of the best shops that you can find. We also have one of the top colleges in the
U.S. for competitive cycling with many of its graduates going on to be champions!
Roads are usually just a means of getting from point A to point B with the usual humdrum pushing you to get to the
destination as quickly as possible. But being on your bike gives you a chance to see your surroundings in exquisite
detail, earn your miles with energy and spirit derived from yourself and enjoy the surroundings in a way that you will
never ever forget. Durango has roads with scenery that is just "good for the soul" and has such a wonderful variety
that even after living here all my life I keep getting surprised with something new. So grab the bike and hit the roads of
the DuranGo Outdoors!
Road Biking Lingo
How to understand roadies and their lingo:
Roadie - A person whom rides their bike primarily on streets, roads and highways usually on an uber light preparatory
cycle full of cool things like carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum.
Road Rash - Roadies usually wear clothing that is light and thereby thin and when you crash and slide the pavement
makes your skin look like you were attacked by a belt sander.
Cadence - A fancy word for consistent pedaling RPM. Good cadence is to have the same rhythm or speed at the
cranks from your legs even with moderate inclines.
Monkey Butt - Also known as Saddle Sores and is the bain of many a roadies bottoms. If you spend enough time on
a bike seat or your shammy is worn your buttocks and or nether regions can get a red hot rash. "Taint" fun!
Chamois - Pronounced Sham-mee and is commonly called "Shammy". This is the friction reducing, sweat absorbing
pad that is part of the inner liner of bike shorts. Often confused as being the entire shorts like the lycra or spandex
seen on many bikers.
Drafting - This is where you get right behind another rider and take advantage of their slipstream in the air. It can give
you about a 20-30% advantage so always try to let your buddies go first!
Quiver - To have a personal rack or hanger full of different bikes to choose from.
Priorities - To have a bicycle that costs more than your car.
Blocking - It's just like it sounds. Blocking is where you obstruct a rider or riders behind you on purpose… unless you
are a squirrel.
Squirrel - An unpredictable and "spastic" rider that zigzags all over the road in front of you. They drive you nuts!
Panic drop - This is where you fail to clip out of your pedals in time at a light or stop sign. People will see the panic on
your face before you drop.
Peloton - The main group of riders seen during a race, because "group" just isn't cool enough.
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