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  1. #1
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    3 solid days in Crested Butte - advice sought

    I am heading out west to CB to do some riding but will be with my wife (beginner/intermediate rider) and my Dad (67 but decent shape but beginnerish on MTB). I want to do 401 with them. Good idea or bad idea? How much tech is there?
    Are there other trails that you could recommend that score high on the scenery and less on the tech factor?
    Maybe you could suggest a good, technical, trail in case I get some time by myself for a ride too.
    Thanks,
    FR
    "It's NEVER all downhill" DMR

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    I have a few suggestions for you, having ridden in CB dozens of times:

    - 401. The climb from the top of Schofield Pass is steep and there's not much air at 11k feet, but it's well worth it even if you have to push your bike. The climb is only a mile or so, and it's all downhill from there. Not much technical riding on 401 at all. I usually park at the TH near Rustler's Gulch and climb the dirt road from there. It's even better if you have someone drop you off on the top of the pass so you can ride all the way back into town.

    - Upper, Upper Upper, and Strand Hill. Start up on the mountain (take the free shuttle or ride the bike path if you're in town) and ride the Upper Trail, then on to either Upper Upper or Whetstone (these have some technical spots, but aren't bad). These will both drop you down to Brush Creek Road. From there, head left on the dirt road for a couple of miles and hit Strand Hill. It's a decent climb for a couple of miles, but well worth it. The views are stunning and the downhill is some of the fastest, smoothest singletrack around. One of my favorites for sure.

    - Doctors Park. Near Almont, this is best ridden (IMO for a beginning rider at least) with someone dropping you off at the top of the dirt road. Otherwise, it's about eight miles of a steady grunt climb that seems to last forever. Once you cross the creek, the road gets steeper but is rideable. The views from the top are amazing, and the downhill is probably one of the best in Colorado. Well worth the short drive from town.

    For shorter rides, you can always link up the trails on the mountain (lots of fun ones) with Snodgrass, Lupine, and the Lower trail system. Honestly, you can't go wrong in Crested Butte.

  3. #3
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    401 should be fine, just take your time on it since the uphill can be stiff for lowlanders and beginners. Not much tech stuff, just be careful of some of the gully crossings as some of them can be a little funky.

    Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman's is a really quality ride and has some nice scenery when you get to the top of reno road. Doctor's park as well, great downhill, but a few tech spots near the bottom...you shouldnt need to shuttle either of these.

    Dyke trail has some nice scenery and isn't too bad tech wise either.

    409.5 has really nice views near the top and isn't ridden by the masses.

    If you want something more techy 403 has a ripping downhill that is steep and techy in spots.

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    Ditto on 401 trail to rustlers gulch. Riding past rustlers is uneventful and will just make your family tired. Once they do the 401 trai, if they have any type pf appreciation of nature, you will have made their trip. Here's a couple of my ride reports for crested butte. Let me know if you have any questions

    Crested Butte, CO
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppman View Post
    I will also be heading to that area in July. Is it not smart to ride the 401 alone? Meaning on a weekend, if something were to happen what would the chances of another biker passing by be?
    100% chance of not being alone.

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    I will also be heading to that area in July. Is it not smart to ride the 401 alone? Meaning on a weekend, if something were to happen what would the chances of another biker passing by be?

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    Awesome, thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppman View Post
    I will also be heading to that area in July. Is it not smart to ride the 401 alone? Meaning on a weekend, if something were to happen what would the chances of another biker passing by be?
    I usually avoid 401 in July on weekends since there are so many people that ride it. The parking areas near rustlers are usually full with cars parked down the road. If you're staying up on the mountain, instead of driving up, the extra miles are really easy spinning up from mt. CB. If you'd like some company on any of your rides i'd be more than happy to ride with you.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the tips - Much appreciated!
    If any of you gets out East (Boston) with a bike, hit me up and I will show you around some pretty fun, tech trails.
    FR
    "It's NEVER all downhill" DMR

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BDKeg View Post
    I usually avoid 401 in July on weekends since there are so many people that ride it. The parking areas near rustlers are usually full with cars parked down the road. If you're staying up on the mountain, instead of driving up, the extra miles are really easy spinning up from mt. CB. If you'd like some company on any of your rides i'd be more than happy to ride with you.
    The right way to do it is from town, up Slate, 403, climb to Schofield, 401, Snodgrass, back to town.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppman View Post
    I'll extend the same offer if anyone is in the Chicago area.
    What offer is that? Show us where the good pizza is?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    The right way to do it is from town, up Slate, 403, climb to Schofield, 401, Snodgrass, back to town.


    I live on the mountain, but last weekend I hit snod, wash gulch, 403 then 401. 403 is still a few weeks away, lots of snow/mud and walk a bike. Really nice combo ride if you don't mind all the road miles.

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    I'll extend the same offer if anyone is in the Chicago area.

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    Haha.. pizza, beer and believe it or not, there are some decent trails within 1 hr of chicago... yes, its a 1 hr drive and there's barely any elevation change, but they are fun, somewhat technical and flowy. Its the best I can offer And then amazing pizza and beer after.

    I wish I had the trails you guys did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by far raider View Post
    I am heading out west to CB to do some riding but will be with my wife (beginner/intermediate rider) and my Dad (67 but decent shape but beginnerish on MTB). I want to do 401 with them. Good idea or bad idea? How much tech is there?
    Are there other trails that you could recommend that score high on the scenery and less on the tech factor?
    Maybe you could suggest a good, technical, trail in case I get some time by myself for a ride too.
    Thanks,
    FR
    You could start your GF and dad on something close to town. Lupine to Lupine 2.0 up Slate River road over to the lower loop is a great way to break them in.


    Quote Originally Posted by zeppman View Post
    I will also be heading to that area in July. Is it not smart to ride the 401 alone? Meaning on a weekend, if something were to happen what would the chances of another biker passing by be?
    What SS said...
    401 alone, yea probably not. As in there is always someone riding 401...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppman View Post
    Haha.. pizza, beer and believe it or not, there are some decent trails within 1 hr of chicago... yes, its a 1 hr drive and there's barely any elevation change, but they are fun, somewhat technical and flowy. Its the best I can offer And then amazing pizza and beer after.

    I wish I had the trails you guys did.
    Yeah... just show us the pizza and beer. We won't bother with the trails.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppman View Post
    Haha.. pizza, beer and believe it or not, there are some decent trails within 1 hr of chicago... yes, its a 1 hr drive and there's barely any elevation change, but they are fun, somewhat technical and flowy. Its the best I can offer And then amazing pizza and beer after.

    I wish I had the trails you guys did.
    Actually Palos is quite fun and then for a giant pump track there is always Saw Wee Kee. Not a lot like that around here (Front Range). Sometimes I miss it (but only a very little )

    Anyway I'd really like to head out to Crested Butte later this summer. My issue is that I have a decidedly non athletic wife. Any tips on keeping a family entertained (I also have a 6 and 9 year old - though they bike a swell) when I am off biking?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kerryn View Post

    Anyway I'd really like to head out to Crested Butte later this summer. My issue is that I have a decidedly non athletic wife. Any tips on keeping a family entertained (I also have a 6 and 9 year old - though they bike a swell) when I am off biking?
    There's a lot more going on at the base area than there used to be- bungee trampoline, climbing wall, mini golf, zipline tours, frisbee golf, plus riding the lifts and either riding or hiking. Also a children's museum with lots of activities. I think a family could easily spend a day just walking around town and checking things out there. I'm biased, but it's a pretty cool town. So that's 2-3 days, after that I'd have to dig a lot deeper.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeppman View Post
    And then amazing pizza and beer after.
    Just to stir the pot, but THIN crust and microbrews are the way to go!!!
    FR
    "It's NEVER all downhill" DMR

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovemtnbiking View Post
    Ditto on 401 trail to rustlers gulch. Riding past rustlers is uneventful and will just make your family tired. Once they do the 401 trai, if they have any type pf appreciation of nature, you will have made their trip. Here's a couple of my ride reports for crested butte. Let me know if you have any questions

    Crested Butte, CO
    Are you really riding 401 if you only ride half the trail? Ride the whole thing, the lower half is really fun and in much better shape than the upper half. Pretty lame that so many people bail at Rustles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnirider View Post
    Are you really riding 401 if you only ride half the trail? Ride the whole thing, the lower half is really fun and in much better shape than the upper half. Pretty lame that so many people bail at Rustles.
    +1 Lower 401 is nice, a few techy spots and some nice downhill at the end, although i wish they had a singletrack all the way down to the road instead of the road near judd falls trail junction.

    To make a case for people out of town, a lot of them are super tired after upper 401 so i could see it easily being skipped. It is pretty lame to drive up past the judd falls parking area though.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnirider View Post
    Are you really riding 401 if you only ride half the trail? Ride the whole thing, the lower half is really fun and in much better shape than the upper half. Pretty lame that so many people bail at Rustles.
    +2.

    Hell - I don't even *remember* the junction at Rustler's... granted it has been a number of years.

  23. #23
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    Crested Butte riding

    I live in CB and can give you some advice.

    For beginners, think about altitude as well as technical ability. If they are not used to riding at 11,000 ft be prepared to take it slow on 401. This is not a technical ride, however the uphill is in high altitude. If you park at Judd Falls you will climb 7 1/2 miles on dirt/rock road followed by 1 1/4 miles single track. Downhill is dusty at the moment, but not technical. Expect a beginner to fall at least once or twice

    Doctor's - great ride but I would not take a beginner on it, especially if not shuttling. The downhill is 3 parts, first is very rocky, 2nd is a luge 3rd is rocky with tight switchbacks and high consequence falls. Can be very overwhelming for a new rider as they will walk a lot.

    If you would like a test ride, think about Lower Loop to start - it's our beginner trail. Will have some easy rocks, short climbs and there are a number of off shoot trails that have been built so you can ride for a while. No drops, no consequence.

    Check out the new Lupine Trail which you can also connect to Lower Loop. If they are up for it, you can ride Snodgrass - great for beginners - come down Washington Gulch road, then you can connect with Lupine to Lower Loop to Budd Trail. You can now connect about 30 miles of easy trails around town and with such close proximity if anyone wants to cut out early, they will have the option. (Also, on east side of town, upper, upper upper, Whetstone etc but these are rockier than the trails on the west side of town. They are short though, so even if you have people walking they will have fun.)

    I would take them on Snodgrass the first day to test their ability, then try 401. You may also want to check out Strand Hill - which will test a beginner but won't make them hate riding..

    Reno Flag Bear has about 6 inches of dust at the moment. Fun, but with 3 big climbs and dust a beginner may again be overwhelmed.

  24. #24
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    I'll echo the sentiments about elevation. 401 and all of CB is much higher then most of us are used to. I'm not expert on the area, but despite the altitude, there is a lot of really, really awesome riding that isn't very technical at all - 401 being one of them. Coming from 4k feet and toting around a 34lb Nomad was tough for me.

    Maybe locals feel like it's a trail that's over hyped, but 401 is pretty amazing. Awesome alpine riding. Oh, and the second part is fun, but there is a decent amount of additional climbing on it.

    <a href="http://singletrackhack.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/DSC01300.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-663" title="DSC01300" src="http://singletrackhack.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/DSC01300.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="537" /></a>

    Complete trip report and photo dump here: Cool Temps and Thin Air | Singletrack Hack

  25. #25
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    Great pics Jwind! I can't wait to get there!!
    WWXD.
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    She used to clean the whole trail.

  26. #26
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    401 is awesome, as is most of CB

    Quote Originally Posted by Jwind View Post
    ...Maybe locals feel like it's a trail that's over hyped, but 401 is pretty amazing. Awesome alpine riding...
    401 is a disneyland experience. I can understand why the locals might find it a little ridiculous--it's kind of like the Crest over here. People come to visit and they only ride 401. Just as many of our visitors only ride the Crest. They're here for a long enough time to see a bunch of our riding, but they will often just ride the Crest multiple days in a row then leave.

    But everyone should see 401 at least once, just as everyone should ride the Crest at least once. Don't fixate on it to the point that you lose any curiosity about the rest of the local riding, but it's amazing.

    And definitely ride the second part past Rustlers Gulch. It's not as disney-fied as the upper part, but it's totally beautiful and fun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    401 is a disneyland experience. I can understand why the locals might find it a little ridiculous--it's kind of like the Crest over here. People come to visit and they only ride 401. Just as many of our visitors only ride the Crest. They're here for a long enough time to see a bunch of our riding, but they will often just ride the Crest multiple days in a row then leave.
    yea, the amount of people + cars up there on a weekend is a bit ridiculous and with the lack of rain right now biking up the road is a dust fest. Biking early morning or during the evening on a weekday is best to avoid the crowds and tourists driving the road who don't slow down when passing bikes so you breathe in a healthy amount of dust. Regardless, it does represent CB well when it comes to the scenery and wildflower department, but there are certainly better downhill rides here.

  28. #28
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    All this talk about CB has me jealous. I've only been twice (out from SoCal), as part of 2 week driving trips, hitting other goodness along a clockwise loop through UT, CO, and AZ. We were there both times during the MTB festival, and had such a great time. Condo both times in upper CB, riding up and down the "path" to town for food and drink...

    I do think, if you get all the way to CB, you do need to "bucket list" the 401. There is so much good stuff there [CB], and I don't think you can beat the views anyplace in in the U.S.

    Sadly I'm not going to make it out this season.

    Take lots of pix, and be sure to share!
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  29. #29
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    mini van people

    Quote Originally Posted by BDKeg View Post
    yea, the amount of people + cars up there on a weekend is a bit ridiculous and with the lack of rain right now biking up the road is a dust fest...
    Ah yes, that famous CB talcum powder dust. And the famous idiot looky-loo drivers. You're climbing along trying to keep your heart in your chest and three mini-vans all with the same non-Colorado plates pass you raising enough dust to obscure your view of the grass next to the road. Then 3.5 minutes later before their dust has even settled, there are all three heading back down.

    I was doing the CB Classic several years ago. The Slate de Huez, 403/401 loop was the second one that year. I couldn't do the third, and I think it was because of the impact of doing that climb in a curtain of moon dust. The next time I did it I actually brought a particle mask to wear for that segment, but that year they had oiled the road and it was just like pavement.

    I can understand tourists that want to see it, and aren't fit enough to do it under their own power. But for pete's sake, when you get up there, shut off the stupid car, GET OUT and look around a little. You see so many of those 'tards drive up and back so quickly they could not have possibly taken the time to get out even for a second. That's what really kills me about that road.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    Ah yes, that famous CB talcum powder dust. And the famous idiot looky-loo drivers. You're climbing along trying to keep your heart in your chest and three mini-vans all with the same non-Colorado plates pass you raising enough dust to obscure your view of the grass next to the road. Then 3.5 minutes later before their dust has even settled, there are all three heading back down.
    hah I think I saw at least 5 cars like that when I was spinning up gothic with the wife this last weekend. Didn't think it would be that crowded yet...Judd falls parking area full + cars lined up along the road, tons of other cars parked near the road at rustler's and a fair amount of people trying to drive up and shuttle all the way to the snow plug by emerald lake. I just hope the trail doesn't get too beat up by August.

  31. #31
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    I saw a bumper sticker that said "Don't mess with reckless" this weekend - gave us all a good chuckle. The first mile or so of the decent from the top of 401 was actually dustier then road. Bad enough you couldn't ride too close behind anyone. I could hear our pup making noises of dust displeasure as she chased us...

  32. #32
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    Heading up to CB Monday/Tuesday next week. Probably going to do Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman Monday, then some variant of 401 (hopefully 403-401-snodgrass) on Tuesday. Other than the requisite "good to go!" from the trail conditions web site, how are things up there? Still dusty.

    I've done everything in the list but 403 before -- how techy is it? I'm a fairly XC guy, did fine on 401 and Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman last time.

    I don't recall there being any places to get water up around gothic, washington gulch or the oh be joyful area outside of town -- that still the case?

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    Quote Originally Posted by btx View Post
    Heading up to CB Monday/Tuesday next week. Probably going to do Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman Monday, then some variant of 401 (hopefully 403-401-snodgrass) on Tuesday. Other than the requisite "good to go!" from the trail conditions web site, how are things up there? Still dusty.

    I've done everything in the list but 403 before -- how techy is it? I'm a fairly XC guy, did fine on 401 and Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman last time.

    I don't recall there being any places to get water up around gothic, washington gulch or the oh be joyful area outside of town -- that still the case?
    most of the trails buffed out nicely after we got a good week of daily monsoon rains. There is also minimal dust on the roads now which is good.

    403 only has a few short spots that are steep/loose/techy, so if you feel like it's past your comfort level it's a quick walk a bike past it. A lot of the lower parts on the downhill are steeper, but not very techy.

    There are water/drinks/snacks available in the gothic townsite at the general store there to buy. If you're talking about filtering your own water there will be water up gothic/wash gulch/and slate river valleys.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by btx View Post
    Heading up to CB Monday/Tuesday next week. Probably going to do Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman Monday, then some variant of 401 (hopefully 403-401-snodgrass) on Tuesday. Other than the requisite "good to go!" from the trail conditions web site, how are things up there? Still dusty.

    I've done everything in the list but 403 before -- how techy is it? I'm a fairly XC guy, did fine on 401 and Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman last time.

    I don't recall there being any places to get water up around gothic, washington gulch or the oh be joyful area outside of town -- that still the case?
    I'm no expert on CB, but much of the trail around there, while awesome, is not very technical. It's the elevation and bountiful elevation gain that makes it tough IMO and IME

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwind View Post
    I'm no expert on CB, but much of the trail around there, while awesome, is not very technical. It's the elevation and bountiful elevation gain that makes it tough IMO and IME
    It's about the aesthetics when riding in Crested Butte... if you want technical, go back to Moab, or get on over to some of the stuff around Phoenix or Tucson, AZ or Hurricane, UT, or maybe the Dells in Prescott, AZ.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RandyBoy View Post
    It's about the aesthetics when riding in Crested Butte... if you want technical, go back to Moab, or get on over to some of the stuff around Phoenix or Tucson, AZ or Hurricane, UT, or maybe the Dells in Prescott, AZ.
    Not complaining. And I think it's more then just aesthetics. Some of the DH in that area are some of fastest flowiest sections of trail I've ever ridden.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwind View Post
    Not complaining. And I think it's more then just aesthetics. Some of the DH in that area are some of fastest flowiest sections of trail I've ever ridden.
    Agreed... and there's more of it, if you like those kind of rides, in Durango, that rival or exceed some of the CB stuff, in my opinion. Molas Pass to Engineer Mountain comes to mind.... incredible. Last 2 weeks of Sept to 1st week of Oct in fall colors rocked my world.

  38. #38
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    I'm headed to CB from Salt Lake City in a couple of weeks all by myself with a tent and sleeping bag in the back. Is there anyplace in/around town where I can sleep for a night or two for free? Shower after a ride?

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    I'm sure the locals will chime in, but when I was visiting last week I saw a few campsites just off of Gothic Rd (I think its called rte 6 when you pass the town of Mt Crested Butte)... From town, head towards Mt Crested Butte, pass it and drive north east like you are heading to the 401 trail head. Between the very small town (I think its called Gothic) and the pass, there was camping. Not sure on showers though.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpalmer View Post
    I'm headed to CB from Salt Lake City in a couple of weeks all by myself with a tent and sleeping bag in the back. Is there anyplace in/around town where I can sleep for a night or two for free? Shower after a ride?
    plenty of free camping up slate river road/wash gulch and gothic past the townsite. Remember no camp fires at the dispersed spots since we're still under a state 1 fire ban. Only fires allowed at established camp grounds.

    There is also free camping up on kebler pass and out cement creek road which is closer to other rides.

    I believe the hostel in town offers showers for 5 or 6 bucks.

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