San Juan Skyway Loop

 Noah Celebrating on the top of Lizard Head Pass

Noah Celebrating on the top of Lizard Head Pass

Beer And Bike Tours San Juan Skyway Loop.

Epic cycling

Historic hotels

Wonderful small craft breweries

Support and laughter

What else do you need for a great trip…oh yeah good friends.

Our San Juan Skyway adventure is our most popular and in many ways our favorite United States Adventure.  The short summary is that this is a 230-mile adventure that follows the famous San Juan Skyway in southwest Colorado.

 Zach and Dan On our trip in September 2016

Zach and Dan On our trip in September 2016

The full story as to why this is one of our favorites is much more. We love this route for so many reasons.

The first of the reasons this route is so special to us is the cycling. This is really where it all starts for us. A beautiful cycling route is of the utmost importance when we are scouting routes. The San Juan Skyway does not disappoint, in fact in this area it excels more than most. Over the course of our 6 days cycling we circumnavigate the San Juan Mountains. The route of this adventure takes us over multiple mountains including Lizard Head, Red Mountain, Molas and Coal Bank passes. It will also take us over the Dallas Divide. Each of these rides presents a different type of climb. The thing they all have in common is beautiful mountain vistas and wildflower pastures.

The first proper pass of this adventure is Lizard Head Pass. This ride begins in Delores, Colorado. Following the river we ride up the pass through the small town of Rico, where we stop for a bite to eat, and continue to the high alpine pass at 10,222 feet.  Finishing in Telluride this ride is one that I look forward to every time. 

 DAmian on the top of Lizard head Pass

DAmian on the top of Lizard head Pass

The second climb of the Skyway actually begins with a fun and fast downhill start before looping around and heading up the Dallas Divide.  The divide is not a difficult climb but has a tendency to sting a bit after the downhill start and the previous days ride.  The top of the divide takes along the river again and leads up to a beautiful vista with striking views of the next day’s route. Descending the east side of the Dallas Divide we will roll into the town of Ridgway. Ridgway is a small town that features the only spotlight in the whole county. Ridgway is also known as the setting for John Wayne’s film True Grit among others. This ride finishes in the Switzerland of America, Ouray, Colorado.

 The Coopermans on the Dallas Divide in 2014

The Coopermans on the Dallas Divide in 2014

 Million Dollar Highway coming our of Ouray heading South.

Million Dollar Highway coming our of Ouray heading South.

The third leg of the Skyway is on the Million Dollar Highway, connecting Ouray to Durango stopping in Silverton. On this leg you will ride out of the Cirque that surrounds Ouray on three sides and head up and over Red Mountain Pass.  Riding the pass is really three stages, the initial climb out of Ouray, the mid mountain valley and the final kick to the top. The first portion is the hardest and with the famous narrow “bike lane”. The valley is beautiful in all seasons with wildflowers or fall color. Beginning in the valley all the way to the top are old mines and mine settlements that make this ride not only beautiful but also historically interesting. One of the tunnels goes all the way to Telluride under the mountain. After a long climb you will drop like a stone all the way into Silverton. The descent is nothing short of epic!

The final ride of the trip is from Silverton to Durango. This is the reverse ride of the Iron Horse Classic.  Directly after leaving Silverton you begin the climb of Molas Pass. This climb is beautiful with the clouds lifting as you ride into the sky. At the top of Molas you are treated to a 360-degree panoramic view of the mountains, a short three-mile descent to the beginning of the Coal Bank Pass climb to the final summit of the adventure.  The climb is short and smooth and at the top we toast the summits before our 30-mile mostly downhill ride to Durango and celebration.

 The last climb of the trip and it is time to celebrate before a grand descent to Durango

The last climb of the trip and it is time to celebrate before a grand descent to Durango

The second thing that makes this adventure fun are the great hotels we visit and spend our evenings.  In Durango we stay at the Historic Strater Hotel on Main Street. The Strater is part of Wild West lore hosting guests traveling by stage since 1887.

 Strater Hotel Photo from Dan Hale. 

Strater Hotel Photo from Dan Hale. 

In Telluride we stay at the luxurious Hotel Telluride. The Hotel Telluride is right as you enter the town of Telluride just off the main road. It is easy walking distance to everything and close to where we take the Gondola to watch the sunset.

 View from the Wyman hotel entrance in Silverton

View from the Wyman hotel entrance in Silverton

In Ouray we spend the evening at a simple family run hotel on the river with views of the cirque that surrounds Ouray. Our hotel is again a short walk from everything in town and right next to the Ouray Hot Springs Spa. In Silverton we stay at the historic Wyman Bed and Breakfast. The Wyman has just recently undergone renovations and is always a comfortable night sleep in the quiet town of Silverton.

The third portion of the trip are the tasty craft breweries. We visit many award winning and also small local breweries that are savored in the towns that we visit. This year we will be visiting Ska Brewing, Carver Brewing Company, Animas Brewing, Delores River brewing(my personal favorite on this adventure), Smugglers Brewpub, Colorado Boy Brewing, Ouray Brewing Company, Ourayle House, Golden Block and the Avalanche Brewery. In addition to all of these great stops there are a number of distilleries.

The fourth portion of this trip will either be traveling with you or you will meet along the way. Good friends make this adventure amazing. Join us as a group, couple or single and meet new friends to share future adventures with. Many of our guests meet on this adventure and go on to travel together on other trips both with us as a company and on their own.

 New Friends and Adventures, also a sweet Moots bike.

New Friends and Adventures, also a sweet Moots bike.

All of these things help make the final portion of this trip. The final part is the support we provide and the laughs we will share together. The friendships of a common cause and satisfaction of the ride combined with the rest make this a Colorado adventure of a lifetime.

Cheers - Bob