Colorado and Utah have some of the country’s finest singletrack and there’s no better way to experience it than by hopping in the car with friends and mountain bikes and hitting the open road. Here’s where to go to score epic mountain biking, scenic hot springs, and tasty pizza, all set to the backdrop of striking mountain vistas.
Fly into Denver, Colorado, and rent a car—few car rental agencies will include bike racks, but a place called Open Road Outfitter in south Denver rents Thule hitch-mounted bike racks by the week. Hop on Interstate 70 and stop in nearby Golden to rent mountain bikes. The Golden Bike Shop has the biggest selection of mountain bike demos in the Front Range. Want to squeeze in a ride before you hit the road? Head to White Ranch in Golden, where you can get a lung-busting climb, followed by a speedy descent with sweeping views of the foothills.
On your way through Glenwood Springs, stop for a soak at the Glenwood Hot Springs, a steaming pool of mineral-rich water heated by geothermal gradients.
Around 250 miles west of Denver, you’ll land in Fruita. Here, you can ride flowy singletrack on the Book Cliffs trail, rolling climbs with banked turns on the loops within 18 Road Trails, and jagged, rocky descents on the Kokopelli Trails. For maps, repairs, and general advice, hit up Over the Edge Sports, a Fruita bikers’ institution. There’s plenty of camping available on BLM land or book a room or an entire house through FruitaCrashPad.com. After your ride, dig into a piping hot pizza at the locals’ favorite eatery, the Hot Tomato Café.
The old mining town of Silverton is well worth a stop for its towering peaks and slice of mining history. Pop into the Avalanche Brewing Company for a meal (they open at 7 a.m. and are known for their killer breakfasts) or a frosty pint of White-Out Wit.
Traverse along one of Colorado’s most stunning roadways, called the Million Dollar Highway for its rugged three mountain passes and steep, curvy descents. About 175 miles south of Fruita, you’ll wind up in Durango, Colorado. You can zip-zag up Animas Mountain or head out Grandview Ridge for adventurous singletrack that weaves along the river and up into the mountains. Sleep at the historic Rochester Hotel, where rooms are themed like old Western movies and you can borrow a free cruiser bike to roll into town.
Lastly, head north to Moab, Utah, a veritable mountain bike mecca that’s about 150 miles from Durango and smack in the middle of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks (which are also worth a visit). In Moab, don’t miss the Porcupine, Slickrock, and Ahab trails for advanced desert riding at its finest. The Love Muffin Café has the best breakfast in town and you can either camp (check out the Sand Flats Recreation Area near the Slickrock trailhead) or grab a bunk or a rustic cabin at the Lazy Lizard Hostel in town. After a hot, dusty ride, cool off at the Mill Creek swimming hole. From Moab, it’s a five-and-a-half hour haul via I-70 back to Denver.