To me, the most stressful part of planning our recent Durango to Moab hut-to-hut trip was figuring out the transportation logistics. During the trip itself things would be simple – pedal our bikes from one hut to the next – and the San Juan Hut Systems had all the instructions we needed. Getting to the trailhead and returning home was another story and took a combination of planes, vans, cars, and cash to make the round trip a success.
Flying with a mountain bike
Jake and I both took commercial flights into Durango the day before our trip left but our bikes took slightly different journeys. Jake has “status” on United and so he was able to ship his bike out the day before for $85 (each way) which included pick-up at his apartment and drop-off at Durango Mountain Resort (our lodging for the night before we left).
I opted to check my bike on Frontier which I was told would be risky since the airline could lose or delay my bike. The fee was surprisingly reasonable (just $50 each way) and I crammed my box full of clothes and gear for padding and to get around paying to check an additional bag. On Frontier bike boxes have to be under 109 linear inches (length + width + height) and must weigh under 100 pounds. Even my 29er plus gear was well under both size and weight.
Boxing your mountain bike
I didn’t have the original box my bike shipped in so I spent several days the week before trying to track down a suitable box in the Atlanta area. My local bike shop charged me $5 for a used cardboard box which didn’t end up fitting my bike anyway. Ultimately Performance Bike hooked me up with 2 free boxes (first one was too small) and even loaded me up with padding, zip ties, and other packing material. With the box I only had to remove my pedals, handlebar, and front wheel and everything fit easily. No damage from the airline in either direction!
Leaving a car at the end of the route
Matt and Nate took the Porcupine Shuttle to Durango after dropping their car at the end of the route in Moab. I don’t know the whole story but I believe they were allowed to leave the car at the hotel where they stayed the night before the night before the trip. Porcupine Shuttle dropped them right at Durango Mountain Resort which is about a mile from the start of the route.
Getting from airport to trailhead & gear storage
Durango Mountain Resort is actually about 25 miles north of town so the airport shuttle bill was a little high (over $100) for just two of us but we really had no alternative. Once at the resort we decided to opt for an alternate trailhead that was about 15-20 miles away which required yet another shuttle. This one cost 120 bones but split 4 ways it was comparatively reasonable.
Since Jake and I would be flying out of Durango we left our bike boxes and extra gear at Durango Mountain Resort. They had a dedicated storage area in the main building and even gave us claim tickets for our stuff. Jake left a laptop with his stuff and it was still there when we returned. Nice.
Returning to the start
Once in Moab, Matt and Nate were able to hop in their car and head back to San Francisco. Actually, they spent the night in Moab to rest up before the epic 15-hour drive. Good call because after Day 7 of riding we were all spent.
Jake and I caught the same Porcupine Shuttle from Moab back to Durango Mountain Resort. It would have been much more cost effective had we all shuttled from Moab to Durango at once but that’s part of the challenge when the group chooses different modes of travel – lesson learned. The trip from Moab to Durango takes at least 3.5 hours by van and the latest the Porcupine folks will leave Moab is 5pm since that means the driver won’t return to Moab until the wee hours of the morning.
Our hotel for the night after the trip was in the town of Durango so Joey, our driver, graciously drove us up to DMR to pick up our stuff then back down to our hotel in Durango. We got into the hotel after 9pm that night and could have easily made an early morning flight back home (though both of us goofed and bought airline tickets for Saturday instead of Friday). The hotel offered a free airport shuttle which was much appreciated.
I shudder to think about the cost and time involved in getting to Durango and back but in the end it was all worthwhile. However, when planning a point-to-point trip it’s important to consider both start and end points in terms of logistics. We considered a similar hut-to-hut trip from Telluride to Moab but getting to Telluride (and back) would have been even more difficult (and expensive) than Durango. The ideal logistical solution is to have a non-rider sag the route with you but of course this isn’t always possible. My advice? Figure out all the logistics before you even book your trip so you’ll have a better idea of the total trip cost and you won’t be stressed.