Monarch Crest Trail. Rider: Marcel Slootheer. Photo: Greg Heil

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 technical challenges.

Within a 45-minute drive of downtown Salida (it takes over an hour to get to a town bigger than Salida) you’ll find more than 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

Must-Ride Trails:


Bike Shops:

Runner Ups

Haven’t had enough of Colorado after these five incredible destinations? Here are a few others you should consider visiting:

# Comments

  • John Fisch

    Can’t argue with that top 5!
    What’s amazing is that that top 5 doesn’t allow space for so many other great destinations: Winter Park, Eagle, Vail, Steamboat, Colorado Springs, Del Norte, Front Range, Leadville, Telluride …

    • Greg Heil

      No doubt!! That’s why I figured a Top 5 destinations list was viable even on the state level–so many to choose from!

  • mongwolf

    Lots of dirt for the knobbies to cover. The stuff dreams are made of, and I do waaaaaaay too much of that.

  • Zebbie

    Breck just had a substantial fire – lots of homes evacuated, etc. Might check that out before considering it at this time.

  • T.raci

    Best brews in Durango…hello…where is Steamworks Brewery? Absolutely THE best in Durango!!!

  • Brandon Dalton

    The fire Zebbie mentioned is still burning over 46,000 acres. Updates are available on Facebook or web search for 416 fire).

    National Forest and parks were closed for a short time and may close again due to extreme fire danger. Plan accordingly.

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