SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS, CO
The San Juan Mountains are a rugged range of mountains in the Rocky Mountains in Southern Colorado. Since the range is highly mineralized, it figured as a prominent star in the early (nineteenth century) mining of gold and silver in the Colorado region. Large scale mining has been greatly reduced ever since, and efforts have been made to promote the area’s diverse and rich scenery through tourism. Relatively remote from civilization, a weekend is definitely not enough for those seeking adventure and beauty in these mountains.
With numerous jagged volcanic summits, many of which rise to more than 14,000 feet, the range has an amalgamation of lakes, waterfalls, and streams, open fields of wildflowers, as well as relics of yesteryears gold and silver mining. In fact, beds of lava, which extend beneath the San Luis Valley, are characteristic of the eastern slopes. The western part of the mountains is the most accessible, and many of the well-known sites like the San Juan Skyway, Alpine Loop, and Silver Thread, which make for excellent drive-bys, are located here. This skyway is set at 11,000 feet and provides a panoramic, 360 degrees view of the entire valley and all the mountains, a sight to behold.
Alongside dramatic, meandering roads through old mining towns like Silverton, there are publicly-owned forests like the San Juan, Rio Grande, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests, most of which are not accessible by road and must be enjoyed through mountain biking trails.. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway follows the deep, forested Animas Gorge for forty-five miles, across wooden bridges and steep slopes. Jeeping has also become popular on the old trails, which used to provide links to the old mining trips, as well as the notorious Black Bear Road. Being extremely steep, skiing is not very common, but definitely available to interested tourists, particularly in Telluride and Durango.
Although there are many ways to enjoy the undisputed charm of the San Juan Mountain Range, the best way to do so is to use the biking and hiking trails available through tours. The Colorado trail, extremely famous and popular, provides spectacular views of sights like the Celebration Lake, La Plata mountains, Animas Valley and Junction Peak. A must see are the Blackhawk and Kennebec Passes, which provide splendid views of the surrounding meadows and the little towns nestled in the mountains, sceneries that most people would miss. Through the Red Mountain Pass in the western section, there are pretty cascades, ravines, and waterfalls (such as the Bridal Veil Falls) which should not be missed.
Those seeking a break from the rush of the cities, or simply an exciting holiday must visit the San Juan Mountains. The most amazing way to soak in the charm of the area in general and the range in particular is through the biking and hiking trails, because they offer resplendent views that cannot be found anywhere else. In short, a vacation to these mountain ranges is imperative for everyone!
Read about the San Juan National Forest
MOUNTAIN BIKING TRIPS
- available as custom trip for 5 or more – click here to email
- level: upper-intermediate, advanced
- ages: all (call for under 18)
- group size: varies
"After 9 years of guided mountain bike trips in North America, your Durango trip had the best trails!!!!"David Sawyer, 2008
"'trip Ned' in Durango was stupendous. Lodging, food, choice of trails and individual guidance on bike set-up, techniques and gear were all excellent. Nate inspired me through some killer climbs. Matt's no slouch on the trails, and also performed some dutch oven wizardry in the kitchen. Big Mike’s tour of Hermosa Creek drainage was epic. Thanks guys- I'm getting a gang together and picking a place to join up again in '09!"Tom Kammerer, 2008
"I thoroughly enjoyed my Hermosa Creek Guided tour! My guide, Matt, was professional and personable: offering great cycling conversation, guidance, and food for thought. He took care of everything so all I had to do was just show up and ride! His experience and knowledge of the CO trails made me feel confident and the ride was truly a treasured experience. Most of all, I had the absolute best time and I loved every nanosecond of it! Thank you !"Julie Urlaub, 2008
"The guys on my trip inspired confidence amongst our group every step of the way. Be it on the trail, shuttling to the trailhead, or arranging logistics in advance they kept things running smoothly and seemingly effortlessly. They accommodated us every step of the way and kept it fun and flexible. Of course, the best part was their ability to provide the epic mountain bike experience. We left Durango pleasantly worked over, dusty, and smiling ear-to-ear. Now if they’d only get on the right brand of bike…"Travis Ott, Gary Fisher Bikes, 2008
"Super job you guys do, better than any other tour/group ride I have been on, either in the US or Europe. I especially appreciate the little things that make the stay more pleasant without the client having to ask for them. (the trail map and the gorp selection for instance, nice touches)."Sam Joseph, 2008