Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Family Vacation: Colorado Western Slope

From July 24, 2009

My family and I spent last week in Colorado on a little vacation -- Dolores, Telluride, Durango, Mesa Verde, Silverton, Ouray. The mining/resort towns, the San Juan mountains and southwest Colorado in general were really neat. We spent the most time in Telluride. Telluride turned out to be a great place for a family. Lodging at the resort was discounted. There were lots of activities, including a trout pond. The hit for the kids was a free gondola, which they rode multiple times, logging in lots of vert and several miles.

From July 24, 2009

The town of Telluride is located in a really cool spot in the mountains. It is surrounded on nearly every side with big rugged mountains. When I got there, the thought occurred to me that it resembled a town in the Alps, like Chamonix. As we spent more time there, it turned out that this wasn't an original thought. Apparently, that area is sometimes referred to as little Switzerland or the Rocky Mountain's Chamonix. With a good snow pack, those mountains would make for some excellent skiing. Here is a shot of some real "skins."

From July 24, 2009

Of course, I got some good biking in as well. Since the whole San Juans range has been prospected, mined, raped, and pillaged, there are lots of trails and roads. Thanks to the miners, there is a mecca of great trails and roads that lead all over and into the mountains -- perfect for a mountain bike. If old mining shafts and ghost towns interest you, there are lots of those as well. While in Telluride, I got in several rides, but the most memorable one will be my ride up Imogene Pass. Imogene Pass is a road that is cut into the mountain and climbs from Telluride over a 13k foot mountain pass. The road eventually ends in Ouray. Each year, there is a foot race from Ouray to Telluride on that road. Being able to climb that high on a bike was exhilarating. The experience was enhanced as I pedaled by several jeep caravans. And yes, it was on the uphill. Sorry, no pictures.

I also got to ride several trails in Durango. I think my favorite by far was the Colorado Trail. Not because it was a great quality fun trail, but because of the intrigue. What is intriquing about that trail is its sheer length and the terrain that it traverses. The Colorado trail starts in Durango and ends in Denver and stretches 500 miles. I rode a few portions of it, and began dreaming about riding all of it (which is impossible since some of it goes through a wilderness area). Sometime soon, I want to ride from Molas Pass to Durango, a 70ish mile ride that seems to be a local epic.

You often hear about how Durango is the mtb mecca. Initially I wasn't impressed by the town or the trails, but it grew on me fast. The thing that struck me and impressed me the most was the number of options in that area. Not only can you hop on a trail and ride forever, there are lots of those kinds of trails.

Pictured below is a shot of a bowl in Silverton. Silverton is relatively close to Telluride, but unlike Telluride, hasn't had the Aspen makeover. "Quaint" might be a word to describe it as compared to Telluride. So might the word "authentic." I was really impressed with the terrain around Silverton. With a good snow pack, it would be a ski mountaineer's dream.

From July 24, 2009


From July 24, 2009

Quaint for sure.

From July 24, 2009

Taking a break from the alpine setting, we journeyed into the desert to see some indian ruins. Mesa Verde was quite impressive. This is a portion of the Cliff Palace. Warm in the winter, cool in the summer.

From July 24, 2009

I should mention that one fringe benefit of the trip was that I was able to live and train at altitude for a week. I fully expect to ride like I'm on EPO now.


Forrest said...

I love Colorado, think about moving back when I retire. Next time you need to add Crested Butte to the mix, some of the best singletrack in CO.

Some Silverton photos.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Looks like a good time. Glad you were able to get some pedal time on the "family" vacation.

Bill said...

Nice trip report, Jared, including about The Colorado Trail. We do our best to caretake this 500 miler and assist CT users from our one-room office in Golden, The Colorado Trail Foundation. Don't hesitate to contact us and/or visit our website

Bill Manning, MgDir