With the convenience of modern vehicles existing pretty much everywhere, it might seem like bikes and cycling are a thing of the past. But if anything, cycling has become more prevalent in certain circles and areas, including Durango and the surroundings.
Cycling is a more eco-friendly mode of transportation that gets you places faster than walking or running and offers a chance to exercise. With bike lanes built into several of the roads in and around town and bike-friendly trails, there are plenty of cycling opportunities in Durango.
If however, you want to get out of town for some more extended and more scenic rides there are plenty of those in the area as well. You can take your bike out into the mountains and glide down some extensive downhill rides or ascend a mountain with nothing but your bike and hard work.
There are rides ranging for dozens of miles running alongside roads and rivers that get you to specific places or just loop back around towards Durango depending on your needs and wants.
Durango and the mountains it is built in offer cyclists, road or otherwise, a chance to get out and experience biking in a way they may not get the chance to otherwise.
If you want a longer ride out of town or back to town, you can do the Durango to Silverton trip.
Just one way the trip is almost 50 miles of road, passing through not just one but two mountain passes and with plenty of picturesque mountain views. The round way trip sits nearly 100 miles and is exhausting with some significant elevation changes. If you aren't up for the entire trip but still want the experience, you can take the railroad up and ride your bike back or vice versa and get both the whole train experience and a good workout.
Baker's Bridge loop is a roughly 30-mile round trip ride starting in downtown Durango before heading North towards Baker's Bridge, a local landmark.
Also called the long-valley ride, the loop takes you on a course nearly parallel to the river as you explore the upper areas of the Animas Valley. At the Bridge, you turn back on a different road and head back towards town to complete your loop.
As you leave town, the ride is a gradual upward elevation increase. Once you make the bridge turn around, you can give your legs a break with a gentle downhill coast back into town.
The road up the Mesa Verde plateau is a long but straightforward road with a few scenic stop-offs and a tunnel.
For the avid cyclist, someone seeking exercise, or just a tourist wanting to experience the ruins uniquely, cycling from the visitor center up to the museum is an excellent road cycling path.
The uphill can be a bit of a grind, but there is plenty of stop-offs with picturesque views for a break, and then you get a smooth glide back down on consistent downhill.
If you have the extra energy, you can even cycle around for a self-guided tour from the road.
Sitting nearly 45 miles from downtown, on the border between Colorado and New Mexico, is Navajo Reservoir, a manmade lake with a variety of nearby activities.
Its distance from town makes it one of the longer rides with a round trip of close to 100 miles so it's recommended chiefly for fit avid cyclists. If you have the time, you can take a multi-day trip. The lake has multiple campsites nearby where a bike-packer could stay for the night before heading back around. You could even stay an extra day to enjoy the water at the lake.
Located about 18 miles from Durango with a 36-mile round trip back and forth is Vallecito Reservoir. The close proximity makes it an exciting route for road cyclists looking to get out of town. Starting in town, you can take Florida Road out almost directly to the lake with only one other turn to lead you to the waters.
While a fairly straightforward route the elevation changes can lead to a good workout. If you want a bit of extra riding as well or just some beautiful lakeside rides, you can keep riding on some of the Vallecito Lake trails as well.
Sitting at just over 15 miles is the Wildcat Canyon and Lake Nighthorse loop for cyclists, a circle going from downtown through the canyon before curling back into downtown.
While one of the shorter rides for road cyclists, it still takes nearly 40 minutes and gives you fantastic views of the canyon itself with views of the lake as well.
Adding only a minute more on your trip is a detour to the Lake Nighthorse lookout point, which gives you some lovely views of the lake and a chance for a break to snack and rehydrate if needed.
When cycling, bring enough water and snacks to last a few hours. You burn a lot of energy biking with all the slopes in the area, and staying hydrated is vital.
The roads are sometimes in need of fixing, and it doesn't hurt to have an emergency repair kit to fix a tire if you get a flat while out of town.
Bike rentals are available in town if you still need to bring one of your own.
If you cycle at night, be sure to wear reflective clothing and be careful of others on the roadways.
Use hand signals to indicate when you’re turning or stopping.
Make sure you have the right equipment for night riding. Use reflective gear, a white front light, and a red rear light.
Wear protective gear such as a helmet, gloves, and protective eyewear.
Check your bike before each ride for proper tire pressure, working brakes, and functioning gears.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Pack it in, pack it out!