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Salida, Colorado

Descending off the Monarch Crest. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

Descending off the Monarch Crest. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

The Arkansas Valley in which Salida lies is home to one of the most diverse climate zones imaginable, compressed into an extremely small area. You can literally begin pedaling above treeline in the high alpine (maybe even off the top of one of the 14,000-foot peaks) and end in the desert environment on the valley floor. Thanks to this diverse ecosystem, there’s always great singletrack to be ridden–in the middle of winter, or during the heat of summer.

During the winter, you’ll be treated to rocky, sandy desert trails that alternate between bermed-up flow lines, uber-technical rock drops, and boulder-filled gardens. During the summer, steep climbs lead to flowy high alpine trails and eventually, vision-blurring descents filled with endless rock gardens and challenge.

Within a 45-minute drive of downtown Salida (it takes over an hour to get to a town bigger than Salida) you’ll find over 500 miles of excellent bike-legal singletrack, plus thousands of miles of jeep roads and doubletrack, if that’s your thing. With three major long distance trails intersecting in Salida, as well as a slew of bikepacking race routes (including the Tour Divide and Race Across America), this small town nestled in the Heart of the Rockies functions as a hub for all things mountain biking.

 
Arkansas Hills. Photo: Scott Anderson

Arkansas Hills. Photo: Scott Anderson

Must-Ride Trails:

Beer:

Bike Shops:

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# Comments

  • k2rider

    Wait a tic….I could be mistaken in my old age but wasn’t Breckenridge hailed as THE top spot in another article just a month or two ago? Now it makes the list of the NEXT 10 places to ride instead of being THE place to ride. I remember that article because it surprised me as I don’t know a single soul that has ridden at Breck or even suggested a road trip with break being the destination. I admit I can never figure out how you come up with these lists anyway. I know for me that while the town itself isn’t anything fantastic (at least it isn’t uppity Bend), OAKRIDGE definitely should be in anybodys FIRST top 10 riding areas to check out as the riding there is top notch!!

  • azdb

    RE Matthew at North Shore comment….you just described my perfect riding scenario……..wow……no doubt there is sort of west centric bias. I am from AZ, 40+ years now, Ill never leave and have tons of riding near including Sedona area, but I have to someday go east for a trip, Arkansas has been an intrigue, but what you described is my ideal setting. Urban commute to trail system and water to boot….Awesome.

  • k2rider

    Yeah, that was the Breckenridge reference I was referring to. If it’s the #1 MTB destination in the WORLD, I would still expect it to make the top of the list in the USA as well….rather than “the next 10” list. Not that it matters anyway, I appreciate the articles as they keep me motivated to keep reaching out to try new areas. I’m be ticking Crested Butte, Downieville and Tahoe off my list this Summer.

  • Bentjammer

    Stokesville, Virginia is home of the Shenandoah Mountain 100. Local to Harrisonburg which is home of the Massanutten Hoo-Ha and Tour de Burg. Some nice technical east coast rocks and roots if you like that sort of thing.

    • Dylan Judy

      Agree with Bentjammer! Stokesville is great… there are some incredible and quite technical trails in the Shenandoah valley between Winchester and Harrisonburg VA. If you want very technical, check out Elisabeth Furnace near Strasburg VA.

  • Whistlepig

    Bellingham is definitely worthy of the list although I’m a bit surprised since it’s not really on a lot people’s radar as a destination. It can certainly be a very demanding place to ride when wet and can be tough in the dry too. Lots of good beer, a very strong community mountain biking vibe, easy trail access, and wicked fun trails are in store for visitors.

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