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Thread: Cortez

  1. #1
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    Cortez

    wanted to solicit some opinions on Cortez as far as quality of local rides, length of season, proximity to other riding areas, access to skiing, rock climbing and how do you like living in Cortez.

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    Well, I'm no expert on Cortez as I only ride there once a year on my annual trek to Durango. But for mountain biking, you have Phil's World, the Boggy Draw trail system (10 miles north in Dolores) and Sand Canyon that are all super FUN!! The only (2) other thoughts I can contribute about Cortez is "One Stop Tacos" make excellent street tacos and the local bike shop, Kokopelli Bike & Board is pretty darn cool. A great selection and super helpful staff. Quite frankly, I was shocked to see that high quality of a shop in Cortez.

    As far as access to other areas, Durango is 45 minutes east and has a plethora of riding opportunities. Besides Ski Hesperus (a tiny, 2 lift "resort" 34 miles east of Cortez), Durango Mountain resort (aka Purgatory) is the closest real ski resort that I know of to Cortez at *about* 60-90 minutes away and then there is Wolf Creek east of Purgatory. I've never been there in the Winter but I'm guessing it would be too far for a day trip in wintery conditions?

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    I live in Telluride and we're maybe 90 minutes from Cortez (if you don't mind $100 lift tickets). Easily a day trip.
    Home Page - Mountain Bike Adventure Maps from Big Loop Mountain Bike Maps - Colorado Mountain Bike Trails
    That link is to the best trail map I've found for the area. K2 covered the major areas, but there are a few more trails, especially north of Dolores.
    I don't know much about rock climbing; there's some in T-ride but I would think there are closer options as well.
    Other areas to ride would be Durango (as mentioned), T-ride (we have free gondola service), and Moab is maybe 2-3 hours north. Sand Canyon is usually March/early April thru Oct/Nov, but I've ridden there in Jan and Feb depending on the year. Farmington, NM is only a couple hours south, as well.
    Obviously, I don't live in Cortez, but it's a pretty nice town. They used to have problems with drunks driving back and forth from the dry reservations in the four corners area, but I think they've gotten a handle on that. For me, I gets too hot in the summer, but to each their own.

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    The season can stretch all year depending on how much rain/snow has fallen and how much cold you're willing to tolerate on a ride. Too much moisture means Phil's is unridable due to the soil type. Boggy Draw is typically under snow all winter, but I've ridden Sand Canyon in mid January when it was 60 degrees as it's lower and dryer than the others (it can also be a bit surreal riding amongst dozens of ancient cliff dwellings). For what it's worth, Phil's World is in my top 5 places to ride anywhere, and I've ridden in a lot of places. It's also a mile from town...

    For skiing, Telluride is about 90 minutes north, Purg 70 minutes east, Wolf Creek 2.5 hours east, and don't forget Silverton about 2 1/4 hours away. Hesperus is about 30 minutes away, but has a limited season -especially in drought years, has limited hours, and is tiny with 1/2 dozen steep runs but only about 800 feet of vert. They have night skiing though and it's an awesome place to have by yourself for a powder night...

    Not sure about the climbing locally but there is good climbing in the Durango area north of town (X-rock, Turtle Lake area, East Animas), and the Ophir Wall and Cracked Canyon south of Telluride have some classic routes. As an ex-climber, I've eyed some interesting lines in the Sand Canyon area if you are into desert sandstone routes.

    FYI, I don't live in Cortez, but have lived in Durango off and on for 30 years, so I know the town and area pretty well. I wouldn't want to live there as it's a bit too conservative for my taste. If you are looking at a job there, a good alternative to live in is Mancos, which is 15 minutes east of Cortez and 20 minutes west of Durango. It's closer to Durango trails, climbing, restaurants and culture, the same distance from Boggy Draw and Telluride, closer to Purg, Silverton, Wolf Creek, and Hesperus. and just a bit further from Sand Canyon. Plus they have an awesome bakery/restaurant that shouldn't be missed.

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    Thanks for the feedback, really helpful!

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    You guys are great, thanks for all of the great info!

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    Its a great place to live hard place to make a living!
    2012 Salsa Horsethief

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    Ive been to Sand Canyon. Pretty cool. I love the Cortez area. Are you moving there?

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    It looks like I will be moving to farmington, close enough to get to Cortez on the weekends I guess

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    Quote Originally Posted by gjbike View Post
    It looks like I will be moving to farmington, close enough to get to Cortez on the weekends I guess
    If you're going to move to "Charmington," do yourself a favor and live on the north edge of town or in Aztec. You'll be closer to the Alien trails as well as the Road Apple loops, and you'll be a lot closer to the climbing, skiing, and riding in Durango and beyond (there's also some shortcut roads to Cortez from the north side) since you won't have to spend 40 minutes waiting through Farmington's endless lights and mini-malls. If you live around Pinon Hills or Foothills Drive, you'll be able to ride to the Road Apple trails from home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gjbike View Post
    It looks like I will be moving to farmington, close enough to get to Cortez on the weekends I guess
    Sorry
    Craig, Durango CO
    "Lighten up PAL" ... King Cage

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    Quote Originally Posted by huntermos View Post
    If you're going to move to "Charmington," do yourself a favor and live on the north edge of town or in Aztec. You'll be closer to the Alien trails as well as the Road Apple loops, and you'll be a lot closer to the climbing, skiing, and riding in Durango and beyond (there's also some shortcut roads to Cortez from the north side) since you won't have to spend 40 minutes waiting through Farmington's endless lights and mini-malls. If you live around Pinon Hills or Foothills Drive, you'll be able to ride to the Road Apple trails from home.
    I moved away from Summit Ridge (between Dolores & Mancos) in 1998. We called Farmington "Charmington" back then, as well. Even in the 90s, there were some serious roadies in the Farmington area. Mountain biking was getting going in the Farmington area and what has come to be known as the Road Apple trails (these are out in the oil patch between Farmington and Aztec, right?) were developing informally.
    Farmington also leaves you nicely positioned to zip down to the Gallup area for some nice riding as well as all the other places mentioned.

    We went through Aztec and rode the Alien trails awhile back. An Aztec local was trying to convince us that Aztec was the next Durango.
    Farmington real estate prices should be relatively reasonable.

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    Wow GJBike, pretty exotic really. That whole are is really beautiful. I wish I had time to explore Charmington and surrounding areas. Cortez has the brew pub and some good italian food IMO. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by June Bug View Post
    Mountain biking was getting going in the Farmington area and what has come to be known as the Road Apple trails (these are out in the oil patch between Farmington and Aztec, right?) were developing informally.
    Yup, north of Farmington and southwest of Aztec. I think that they've been racing the Road Apple Rally there for 30+ years and it's claimed to be the oldest continually run MTB race in N. America. Some of those trails are really nice, buff, and flowy now. Only downsides are that it's super hot out there in the summer, they sometimes get really chewed up by the local moto crowd, and you have to cross a bunch of oil/gas service roads and pads with their attendant chemical fumes, thumping compressors, and speeding, careless service trucks (watch out for them, occasionally one of them will buzz, dust, or throw gravel your way, although plenty will just wave). Same thing out at Alien Run, but Alien Run has more of a wilderness feel in spots, has some fun techy slick rock, and more technical riding. Haven't been to Gallup yet, but it's on the list for sure as I've heard some great things. Also, I've heard plenty of people out in both places blasting away with a variety of firearms. Unlike the gun range next to Phil's World, these folks just shoot on whatever dead end road they find. I've only seen one that wasn't smart about his backstop, being that he didn't know that the trail was on the ledge directly above his target...

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    Also, heading due north from Farmington on NM 170 (which turns into CO 140) takes you through Hesperus and right up La Plata Canyon into happy Colorado mountain goodness.
    I'd highly recommend getting a copy of the AAA Indian Country Map (I think the formal name is Guide to Indian Country of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah); Farmington is roughly in the middle of this map. Yah, yah, I know you can look at maps on your I Phone, but there is something about THIS paper map that is so wonderful, plus it shows a lot of obscure secondary roads and obscure secondary roads can get you to some fun times in that part of the world. (It can also get you lost when secondary roads bisect a maze of even more obscure two-track roads, but hey, that's part of the fun when you're out 'splorin, right?)

    You can get one free if you are a member of AAA or they be available at National Parks in the area and also at local bookstores in Farmington, Cortez, Durango, and (maybe) Gallup. There are a few available on Amazon, but you'd be better off with the most current copy.

    There is a useful guide to the trail systems in Gallup called Waypoints, but I can no longer find an active web site for Waypoints.

    Also, before I sign off, I have to give a shout out to Kokopelli Bike and Board in Cortez for being an unexpectedly awesome (and very professional) bike shop in a small town.

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    There is a pretty sweet disc golf course in Farmington, if you are into that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stopbreakindown View Post
    There is a pretty sweet disc golf course in Farmington, if you are into that.
    I guess you're close enough to make a run to Colorado to buy "supplies", then hit the disc golf course.

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    One of the trailheads to the Road Apple system is in the middle of the disc golf course. two birds, one parking lot...

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