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Fact Table:

Location Southwest CO
High point 11,017
Max Grade 12.7%
Arv Climb Grades

Coal Bank 6.5%.... Molas Pass 5.6%.... Red Mountain 3.6%.... Dallas Divide 3.1%.... Climb to Telluride 2.9%.... Lizard Head 4.9%....

Climb Class

All are generally considerd Cat 2 climbs except Coal Bank which is Cat 1

Elev Gain 17,661 Ft
Rating 2 Day ride- Difficult........ 3 Day ride- Moderate
Access City Durango, CO



Ride Tips:

  • This has some very remote areas- PLAN WELL before you go.
  • If you are planning on camping, campgrounds are limited on the western leg of the route. Plan ahead and confirm.
  • If you are looking for indoor lodging, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride are the main opportunities. B&Bs or motels MIGHT be found in Rico and Dolores, but don't count on it. Plan, Reserve, and confirm before you go.



Color elevation map created using

View full version for some points of interest.

Durango-Telluride Loop

You may have heard of an EPIC ride down in SW Colorado called the Death Ride! It is part of the Colorado Triple Crown Series supported by the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club and is a one day 225 mile event. While I have riden this route many times, I have not and will not attempt it one one day. For me, the route is far too spectacular for a heads down grind it out incredible display of skill and stamina. The people who do this in one day are truly amazing athletes. At 245 pounds, I am not one of them. But this route IS incredible and relatively easy to do in three days, and challenging for us mere mortals to do in two days. For me, slowing down and enjoying Silverton, Ouray, Ridgeway, Telluride, and Deloras are well worth the time.

Splits for a two or three day trip are alittle awkward due to limited overnight locations on the western side of the loop, so you really can't have three nice 75 mile days. Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway are perfect for overnights on the east side, Telluride (I love that town) is about the only option on the west leg, and Mancos is about it on the south leg. A two day trip is likely to be 80 miles day one and 120 miles day two. A three day trip could be 50 miles to Silverton, 70 miles to Telluride, and 100 to Durango. I've done this three day trip and its not bad given a 50 mile downhill from Lizard Head (pray for no headwind which negates the downhill. I've marked camp grounds on the west and south legs, but confirm they are open and available if you want to use them. If you want to make this a four day trip with indoor lodging, I'd add a few miles and have overnight stays in Silverton, Telluride, and Cortez... There are lots of places to stay in those towns.

The pictures to the right are sites along the ride. Durango to Silverton actually includes the steepest climbs, up to 12% grades on the Coal Bank climb sd you enter the high country. The climb up and ride down Red Mountain Pass is spectacular and, for part of the way, you are on a ledge road with no railings, no shoulders. You will be riding in the car lane with traffic behind you. The drop off is impressive. The down side has you passing a number of mines and following a number of steep switchbacks. The view of Ouray enter the town is breath taking. Ouray to Ridgway is simple, straight, and fast. The climb out of Ridgway is short and gets you into pasture and ranch land. The view of the San Juans to the south is great. While you continue to climb across the ranchland, the Dallas Divide climb us rather short but very steep at the top.

Dallas Divide gives you a nice downhill to Placerville followed to a climb all the way to Telluride. Most of the ride is in a great canyon with only a mild climb. The last couple of miles into Telluride has a climb I always found annoying. It's steep and angles straight up a cliff face. Since Telluride, for me, was always the end of the day, I didn't like that last climb. Spend some time in Telluride, it's a great town and a free gondola can take you and your bike up to Mountain Village and the ski area.

Out of Telluride, you have rolling hills and great scenery up to the short climb up Lizard Head pass and then have a 50ish mile descent all the way to Dolores. The remainder of the ride is arid desert-like rolling hills back to Durango.

Enjoy the ride, but it is remote, so plan ahead.