The NEXT 10 Best Mountain Bike Destinations that You Need to Visit (In the USA)

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

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