Four day, holiday weekends are the best. Add in perfect weather, a sense of adventure, and the Rocky Mountains of SW Colorado and they become even better! This past 4th of July weekend might have even crossed the "epic weekend" barrier with time spent in Fairplay, Buena Vista, Del Norte, Durango/Cortez/Dolores, Telluride, Ouray and Ridgway. Although I love living in Denver and working as a physical therapist, I also get stir crazy if I don't get out of the hustle and bustle often enough. A road trip to the mountains with my husband, Kris, is obviously the perfect solution!
The Mountain Biking:
I love mountain biking but the trails in Denver/Front Range are far from good, in my opinion. The trails are crowded and don't flow well as they tend to go straight up and straight down. Whenever I can, I try to get further west for more 'cross country' and single-track type riding. This road trip was all about trying new trails and visiting some of our favorites.
Penitente Canyon 30 minutes north of Del Norte: A "recommended route" on MTB Project led us to bike out of the campground. Even with all our technology, staying on the route was challenging resulting in ~2-3 extra miles of biking. Luckily we were prepared with water, snacks and a sense of adventure.
Phil's World x 2 outside of Durango: My favorite mountain bike single track of all time! Whoever engineered these trails deserve a lot of credit, or at least the opportunity to build more trails (preferably closer to Denver!).
Dolores: A recommendation from a local to check out the Boggy Draw trails in the heat of the afternoon let us to Dolores. Although the shade was nice, the trails were a little vanilla for my liking.
Ridgway RAT trails: This area offers the perfect combination of biking and soaking in hot springs all while surrounded by views of the San Juan mountains.
Best Coffee of the trip: Buena Vista Roastery Cafe
Best Restaurant of the trip: Fairplay's Millonzi's Restaurant
Visit with a friend: Our friend Robb escaped the heat of Scottsdale AZ to meet us in Phil's World for a few laps on the Rib Cage trail.
Best View of the trip: Lizard Head Pass overlook
Orvis Hot Springs: I'm always a sucker for hot springs, but soaking in the middle of the night in a nearly empty hot spring is next level. This is the first time we camped at Orvis which gave us exclusive 24 hr access (along with about 2 dozen other campers/lodgers).
Colorado weather has been crazy this year (lots of rain and hail!) but we managed to escape all of it with 100% perfect weather the entire trip. It's amazing what some heat and sunshine can do for your soul!
The Not Fun Part:
Driving 6.5 hours one way to bike Phil's World is a little outrageous. Good thing the trails are worth it!
The typical mountain town is packed and expensive, especially on a holiday weekend! Telluride took the top prize on this trip.
Mountain biking can leave you bruised and bloody. I got a little too confident on a tough line and ended up over going my handlebars. Luckily I have experience falling off my bike and only ended up with superficial wounds (to my body and my ego).
Snakes! A common, but still surprising, site on mountain trails.
Tent camping in busy campgrounds are noisy leading to a lack of sleep. We are "fair weather" outdoors people and prefer running water and the option to shower. This means bunking up next to a lot of other campers and loud RVs.
Kris and I have done this nearly identical road trip twice before, and I'm already making plans to do it again next summer, with a few tweaks to make it even better. I feel really lucky to live in such an amazing state with endless mountain views and adventures to be had.
Dr Jessica Klain PT, DPT, COMT, CSCS, OCS, CNPT Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist (COMT) Certified Nutritional Physical Therapist (CNPT) Certified Vestibular Specialist Certified Concussion Specialist Trigger Point Dry Needling Certified, Level 1&2 Certified Yoga Teacher University of Florida, Doctorate in Physical Therapy (2009) The Ohio State University, Bachelor of Science in Biology (2006)