Author Topic: Mountain West trip  (Read 3232 times)

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Offline Vicente

Mountain West trip
« on: February 10, 2011, 06:57:09 pm »
Hi! I've just discovered this forum, and I am amazed at the available info and friendly community here. I would be very grateful if you could help me with the planning of a trip to the Mountain West.

At the momment I only have a very general idea of the trip. I plan to arrive at Denver by plane at the end of May, hire a car and drive to the Rocky Mountains, where I plan to spend a week mountainbiking. My idea is to visit several places, going on one or two days trips at each place, and probably making also a bit of hiking. I am considering two alternative routes. The first option is going in a South to North direction visiting the Rockies between Rocky Mountain National Park to Grand Teton or perhaps even Yellostone. The second one is going in a East to West direction visiting only the Colorado Rockies and then spending a couple of days around Moab.

I would appreciate a bit of advice regarding the following questions:

What is your opinion about the two routes? And what places along them would you suggest for the mountainbiking or hiking trips? I am looking for great sceneries, and trying to avoid crowdy places is very important for me.

What do you think about the dates? I'm aware that the end of may it's perhaps a bit early but for working reasons I can't travel between June the 15th and September the 15th. I've also considered traveling in late September or early October.

Could you recommend me places to gather more information? Is there any forum like this where I can ask about hiking suggestions?

Any other suggestion would be very welcomed. Thanks in advance!

Offline valygrl

Re: Mountain West trip
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 01:52:57 am »
Hi Vicente, welcome to the forum!

Sounds like you only are here for a week, with a car, is that right?

Since I'm not much of a mountain biker or hiker, I can't provide very specific suggestions, but I'll chime in what I do know. 

Rocky Mountain National Park has fantastic hiking, but you are not allowed to mountain bike off road in National Parks, and that includes Yellowstone and The Tetons.  The parks are all very worth visiting, especially for hiking, but you can only bike on the roads and bike paths.  Late May is really early season for both RMNP and Yellowstone.  Trail Ridge Road (across RMNP) opens around Memorial Day (5/25-ish) and closes mid/late October for the winter.  Yellowstone services aren't all open yet in May either.  www.nps.gov - national park service web site.

So, I guess I would lean towards staying in Colorado.

Summit County (cities of Frisco, Dillon, Breckenridge) has a lot of both biking and hiking/climbing, but is heavily populated.  Leadville, about 30 miles south, is a hub of outdoor mountain activity, and less commercial.  If you end up there, stay in the hostel (www.leadvillehostel.com) they are super cool and you'll meet people doing the stuff you want to do.  One problem for you with Leadville is that it's very high, so if you have trouble adjusting to the altitude, you might want to change plans and go somewhere lower (everywhere else is lower).

The high mountain trails (Leadville) will probably still have some snow in May.  I would look at going to Durango, it's a mountain bike destination and surrounded by gorgeous mountains, less populated, and I'm sure there are tons of places to hike.   Crested Butte is another Colorado MTB destination, but I have a feeling May is too early, June may be too early even.

Fruita, up near Grand Junction, is another MTB destination.  It's warm and pretty low there - May should be nice and warm, maybe slightly too warm.

It will be too hot to mountain bike in Moab in June - if you want to go there -- it is spectacular -- go there as early as possible.  I rode the White Rim Trail near Moab 2ce - early May was nice, and late May was too hot. 

Late Sept/Oct would be good for mountain biking in Moab and Fruita, not sure when the Durango season ends, but probably by mid October it's too late.  The hiking in the high mountains will be very cold, and expect snow in late Sept/October.   The main road through Rocky Mountain National Park usually closes for the season mid/late October.

In terms of getting more info, all of the towns I mention have one or more bike/hike/mountain shop, and I would ask for local information when you're there, that's the best way to figure out exactly what trails are in good condition right at that time.  I'm sorry I don't have anything specific, hopefully you'll get a bunch of other responses.

I guess if you only have a week, I would focus on finding out more information about Durango and Leadville - and if you go to Durango, Moab is really close. 

Offline Vicente

Re: Mountain West trip
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 01:18:06 pm »
Many thanks for your answer, valygrl!

I am very interested in your comments about Leadville. Also about the Trail Ridge Road. I think I will be there around the first week of june, so I hope it will be open then.

I am also considering visiting Moab. It's really too hot? Would you advice me against going there by the end of May - beginning of June?

Finally, I have been reading about the Great Divide mountain bike route. Obiously too long for my trip, but perhaps I can ride a section in a one or two days trip. It´s a good idea? What sections could be interesting in this case, considering that I am looking for mountain landscapes not too crowded?


Offline staehpj1

Re: Mountain West trip
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2011, 01:31:09 pm »
Valygrl knows the area way better than I do so I won't add anything except to say that I enjoyed Moab quite a bit when I when there to ride my mountain bike.  The riding in the area was great and some other nearby stuff was worth visiting.

No riding there, at least off road, but Arches NP was worth a visit if you are in the Moab area.

One caveat is that I have not been to Moab in quite a while (20 years?), so my experience with the place is pretty old.

Offline valygrl

Re: Mountain West trip
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 09:45:15 am »
Many thanks for your answer, valygrl!

I am very interested in your comments about Leadville. Also about the Trail Ridge Road. I think I will be there around the first week of june, so I hope it will be open then.

I am also considering visiting Moab. It's really too hot? Would you advice me against going there by the end of May - beginning of June?

Finally, I have been reading about the Great Divide mountain bike route. Obiously too long for my trip, but perhaps I can ride a section in a one or two days trip. It´s a good idea? What sections could be interesting in this case, considering that I am looking for mountain landscapes not too crowded?


Hi Vicente

Trail Ridge should be open, they try hard to open it by Memorial Day, which is 5/30. 

Moab is too hot by my standards - here's a link which shows the avg temp on 6/1 as 90F.  Late May isn't really any different.  You could probably make it work by riding very early in the morning, but if you look at the guided tour companies there, you'll see the tours pretty much ending in May.

Since I'm not really a mountainbiker, I can't guide you on what parts of the GDMBR to pick in terms of trail conditions - there's another trail system too  called the Colorado Trail.  Try finding a colorado based mountain bike forum, or calling a couple of bike shops.  I would try shops in Durango, Fruita, Leadville and Frisco/Dillon/Silverthorne, also you could try Boulder.  There's supposed to be good riding in Nederland, 20 miles west of Boulder, as well, but I don't know if it's "destination" riding.  The big CO MTB destinations are Fruita and Durango.  Durango's scenery is probably more what you are thinking about when you think "Colorado Mountains" --  I really would start looking there, and like I said, Moab is only a couple of hours away if you want to hop down there and get a hot taste of the slickrock.

I hope you have a great trip!