Grand Junction – Telluride – Durango – Silverton

Route Description: Start riding in Whitewater to avoid the traffic on
busier Hwy 50. Almost immediately, enter a small canyon and begin a
twenty-mile (gradual to moderate) ascent through ranch country, feeling very
much like “the Southwest.” From the high point at Uniweep Divide there is a
very fun downhill for twenty or so miles into Gateway. Facilities are minimal.
We picnicked on the church steps. Although you begin riding up the Dolores
River at this point, an optical illusion makes it feel like a gradual down.
In any case, the next fifty miles along the Dolores and the San Miguel to
Uravan are very pleasant. From Uravan to Naturita is the least attractive
part of this ride (if you want to drive a section).

It is uphill from just outside Naturita onto the plateau into Norwood – with
lovely ranch and mountain views. From the plateau there is a short but steep
descent into the San Miguel riverbed, which is followed upstream all the way
into Telluride. The road is narrow and should be avoided during transit
traffic times, particularly the section above the junction with Hwy 62.

The four miles from Telluride to the Lizard Head Pass turn off is hardly
enough to warm up for the steep 10+ mile climb up the pass. However, the
views en route and at the top are outstanding, followed by a 50-mile downhill
to Dolores! Hwy 184 cuts across to Mancos, rolling across a high, arid plateau.
Riding on Hwy 160 into Durango is hectic with traffic, but there are decent
shoulders.

Riding Durango to Silverton is challenging, starting at 2,138′ and crossing
Coal Bank and Molas Passes, both over 10,000′ (in 50 miles). The annual
Memorial Week End Ironhorse Race follows this route and is named after the
narrow gauge steam trains that still chug, belching smoke, between Durango
and Silverton. Can you beat the train? In any case you’ll love the alpine
scenery of the San Juan Mountains, some of Colorado’s finest.

Day 1
Exit I-70 westbound at exit 37. Go 3/4 mile to first stop light. Clifton Inn
is the first right after the stop light.
Colorado National Monument Loop (for early arrivers). Drive to east
entrance of monument, climb steeply to mesa top, enjoy ride and views along
rim ride before screaming descent into valley. Return to cars and east entrance
via highway. (32 miles)
Clifton Inn – Bestwestern (East side of Grand Junction) 970-434-3400

Day 2
Route: Drive on 141 south from motel to junction with 50. Stay on 141/50 a
couple of miles to Whitewater where we begin riding. Leave 50, continue on
141 through Gateway, Uravan, to Hwy 90 -> 145, ending in Telluride (150
miles) (Note: You could make this a two-day ride, staying in Naturita.)
Tower House Duplex, at Main St & Colorado Ave, Telluride
Reservations: Telluride Resort Accommodations
970-728-6621 or 800-538-7754

Day 3
Route: Backtrack to Lizard Head Pass intersection (4 miles) then take Hwy
145 south to Delores. Just past Delores turn left (south) on Hwy 184 toward
Mancos. Total mileage at this point is 82 miles. If you have the energy and
heart for riding on busy Hwy 160 it is another 28 miles into Durango.
Scrubby Oaks Bed & Breakfast, Durango 970-247-2176
We’ll be coming into Durango on 160 from the west. Just after 160 meets
Main St (Hwy 550), turn right on 15th St, go 2 blocks and bear left onto
Florida Rd. From 15th and Main it is 2.9 miles to a wrought iron arch over
the drive that says Scrubby Oaks (on the left).

Day 4
Route: North out of Durango on Florida Rd (CR240) to East Animas Rd
(CR250). Turn left on 250, stay on 250 all the way to 550. This is a back road
which parallels Hwy 550 until just before Rockwood. Go north on 550 over
Coal Bank and Molas Passes to Silverton. (Be prepared for snow flurries even
in summer!) Continue on 550 to Ouray for lunch. (Mileage to Silverton is 50,
Ouray is 73.)

After lunch in Ouray return to Denver late evening. (Approx. 7 hour trip.
taking the route to Grand Junction, then I-70 into Denver is the least taxing
after riding.)