Multi-Day Biking Trip Next Week -- Need Help
I'm leaving Salt Lake City next week on Wednesday and coming back Sunday. The destinations I'm looking at include Durango, Crested Butte, Salida, and Aspen. I'm coming solo with my bike, a tent, and a sleeping bag. I am a strong XC rider (yesterday I did a 35-mile loop with 4000' vertical at 10000' elevation, for example) but I'm looking to ride a collection of less-demanding trails so I can extend my endurance over several days. I definitely don't mind a good climb, but I don't want to get burned out on day 1. Here are my questions:
Are there any destinations south of I-70 that are more worth a visit than the ones listed above? Specific trail recommendations are appreciated!
I plan on spending at least one night at Crested Butte. Is there anyplace up there where I could throw down a tent (legally) for free? I will be driving a low-clearance vehicle, so not too off-the-beaten-path.
I will also be spending a night near either Salida or Aspen. Anyplace to throw a tent down for free near those locations?
I am planning on catching the earliest possible shuttle for Monarch Crest, and I have heard about the infamous rainstorms up there. What backup plan do most people have when heavy storms roll in while they are up there?
Which ski resort offers the best lift-assisted riding?
Are there any sections of the Colorado Trail near Durango, Silverton, or anywhere south of I-70 that can be ridden as a loop when combined with other trails?
The only trails on my "absolutely must ride" list are the 401 and Monarch, and hopefully, if I can work out the logistics, some part of the Colorado Trail. Are there any other must-rides along my route (basically anywhere south, or even a little bit north of I-70)?
Thanks in advance to anyone willing to answer as many of those questions as you can. I'll post pics when I get back!
This has been said over and over but...
Crested Butte - skip 401 and ride Doctors Park or Reno/Flag/Bear Deadmans. Cement Creek area has a decent USFS campground, but there are also some undeveloped camping spots along the road.
Durango - Molas to Cascade on the CT. It involves a shuttle but you could probably leave your car at Molas and hitch a ride with your bike back up to the pass. Never done it that way but there are lots of pick ups on that road and I imagine some one would let you throw your bike in the back and give you a ride.
I camped at the top of Hartman Rock near Gunnison Friday night. Much like Fruita/Moab settings, but with less bugs I think. I went up 32 (seems less traveled) and looked around for a while before I settled in. I made sure it was within BLM boundary. Rained until a day ago, so there were puddles everywhere, but it can get bone dry quickly. Full phone reception at the top of the hill (AT&T) . Maybe I just got lucky but talk about desolated camping near town! There must have been a couple of folks down the road somewhere, but I couldn’t hear/see them at all. Beautiful sunset, quiet darkness, and perky sunrise.
Been to CB and up the cement creek a few times, but never Pearl Pass. 12,700 feet. Awesome view. Rocky as hell at some area, but worth the 5-hour climb (I’m slow) if you like that sort of things. I wouldn’t say it’s the most scenic pass ride, but the view of jugged Pearl Mountain and Castle Peak were one of a kind. I saw no other bikers that day.
Thanks for the recommendations, awesome pics too. That spot on Hartman Rock looks awesome, maybe I'll check that out. I don't plan to skip 401 because I don't know if/when I will ever get back to the area and I can't skip the tourist ride. I looked up Doctors Park though and I will probably ride it too. I don't think I can pass up that epic downhill!
Any thoughts on camping around Salida or Aspen?
Plenty o' at large around Salida.
I live in Salida, and I can tell you that there are plenty of options for free at-large camping around here. The classic for you would be to camp up the Marshall Pass/Silver Creek road, ride down to Poncha in the morning (all down hill) and catch the commercial shuttle up to Monarch Pass and ride the Crest. You would end up back near your camp. It's got some climbing, and the high part is as high as the high part of 401 (around 12K) but it won't break the bank. 401 in CB done without a shuttle is pretty climby.
Originally Posted by rpalmer
I can't tell you for sure about Aspen because I don't know the area really well, but when I've passed through it's looked like they don't have many at-large areas, at least close to town. CB is more like that too, they have more visitors and manage the driveable public lands more closely. You see more "Camping only in designated areas" signs around both CB and Aspen. Salida is much more Wild West in that way.
[QUOTE=TomP;9574629 You see more "Camping only in designated areas" signs around both CB and Aspen. .[/QUOTE]
Between Coal Creek (Kebler), Washington Gulch, Slate River, Schofield Pass, Brush Creek, and Cement Creek, there must be 1,000's of disbursed camping spots in and around Crested Butte. The ones closest to town and popular trailheads are hardest to come by, but in general there is a lot of free camping here.