Exploring Colorado High Country

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Exploring Colorado High Country

Timberline Adventures is defined by challenge, discovery, and fun—the challenge part was certainly evident on our recent cycling trip through the Colorado High Country.  With a mountain pass nearly every day, our limits were pushed but we came out on top!  Even when we accepted a van ride, which is never a bad thing, we got to enjoy the stunning scenery and the invigorating mountain air.  Here are some “high-” lights from our recent High Country tour:

Day 1: our assembly day included some bike fitting and last minute cycle attire shopping in Boulder.  This is a city where you could very well be walking down the street next to a Tour de France cyclist, an Olympic medal winner, an Ironman champion, or any variation of world class athletes; the vibe was inspirational and heightened the anticipation of our cycle tour.

Day 2:  we rode from the city of Boulder to Estes Park, the gateway town of Rocky Mountain National Park, via the infamous Peak-to-Peak Highway. This road parallels the Continental Divide along the eastern side, weaving through the foothills. We topped out above 9,000 feet between Estes Cone and Twin Sisters Peak before descending into the Big Thompson River valley.

Day 3: this day brought us to the highest point of the tour. We had the privilege of riding over Trail Ridge Road—the highest continuously paved road in the country— where we reached an elevation of 12,178 feet through the alpine tundra. July is the peak season for tourists in Rocky Mountain National Park and visitors in their cars were gaping as we proudly rolled into the Alpine Visitor Center for a rest before the big descent across the Continental Divide into the Colorado River Valley.  We were challenged by some high alpine weather that brought isolated hail and rain, but the Timberline van was there for intermittent shelter when we needed it.

Day 4:  on our third day of riding, we left Middle Park and the beginnings of the Colorado River to climb over Willow Creek Pass, into North Park and one of the northern-most counties of the state. The route was a seldom-used highway through the Rabbit Ears Range that provided a smooth ride, very little traffic, and wonderful, forested scenery. The pass was the summit of a gentle climb, with the descent every bit as gentle and scenic. Although Walden, our destination on day 4, has fewer than 1,000 residents, we were welcomed with comfortable beds and a hearty dinner.

Day 5: we rode above 8,000 feet for most of the day, as we cycled through North Park and Routt National Forest.  We enjoyed the open meadows of the Rabbit Ears Range as we topped out over Muddy Pass, and then Rabbit Ears Pass, before descending into the Steamboat Valley, where Stagecoach Reservoir can be seen for most of the descent, as we made our way into Steamboat Springs. Our hours spent at higher elevations accentuated the benefits of clean mountain air, healthy exercise, and the rejuvenation that nature gives our mind and bodies.

Day 6: a welcome day of rest from the bicycles in Steamboat Springs included a pleasant walk through the National Forest, along a high line ditch trail to the soothing waters of the naturally-fed Strawberry Park Hot Springs.  At about 6,700 feet in elevation, Steamboat Springs is one of the lower ski towns in the state, but that is still more than one mile above sea level!  Luckily by now, our bodies had now acclimated to the lower oxygen content of the air, the higher intensity of the sun, and the laid-back vibe in the mountain communities.

Day 7: on our last day of cycling, we headed south, out of town into the Yampa River Valley.  Although we had no named passes on this day, our route took us up the Yampa Valley to cross the boundary into the Colorado River Valley, then up and over a ridge, down into the Eagle River Valley, for a total of 5,000 feet of climbing.  We felt proud of our accomplishments and the strength and perspective we gained from the tour. We celebrated our feat with a final dinner and overnight stay in the ritzy town of Vail.

 

Challenge means different things to different people, but the commonality is that when you pursue a challenge, there is growth in strength and character, regardless of where on the spectrum you claim success. We strive to give guests a place where unique challenges can be defined and here at Timberline Adventures, we feel privileged to have the opportunity to help others realize and achieve their goals.