Road Cyclist in Mountains

The Best Strava Cycle Routes In Colorado

Enjoy a challenge? Then try some of my favorite Strava cycle routes in Colorado!

Boulder Colorado Flatirons

After moving to Colorado in 2011, I’ve had the opportunity to compile a vast list of Strava cycle routes. From epic mountain passes to serene spins through urban sprawls, Colorado has all the cycling terrain you can possibly ride. Check out my favorites out here!Recently, Strava released their “local” feature, allowing users to view routes done by locals of some well known cities. However, I noticed that many great cycle routes were left out of this Strava local feature.

To fill the void, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the most epic Strava cycle routes for road cycling in Colorado. My list of most epic Strava mountain bike routes is coming soon. For now, check out the article on my favorite mountain biking towns for your MTB fix.

In order for a Strava cycle route to make the list, it needs to be over 30 miles long, and climb over 1,500 feet in elevation. It must also have epic views and good quality roads. Some of my picks for epic Strava cycle routes are easier than others. However, an epic ride doesn’t necessarily need to be very difficult. An epic ride needs to be memorable, and Colorado’s views and quality roads are hard to forget.

Read On For My Favorite Strava Cycle Routes Of Colorado

Horsetooth+Rist+Buckhorn Loop

Fort Collins Colorado Road

If you want to see what Northern Colorado road cycling is all about, then look no further than this epic Strava cycle route near Fort Collins. Full of climbing on quiet roads lined with rivers and tree cover, this ride starts with a bang as you hammer it up Horsetooth Canyon and its 4 solid climbs of 12%+ gradients. Make sure to take in the views of town, and bring plenty of water and snacks like GU energy gels.

This ride is remote, and very hot during peak season!

Once your legs are warmed up from Horsetooth, prepare for Rist Canyon and its almost 3,000 feet of climbing. Pace yourself, because at the end of this long climb, there is a very steep section of hills with some intense gradients, taking you up switchbacks near the top of Mt. Ethel.

After a crazily fun descent down one of the steepest hills in the area, turn left and start descending down Buckhorn road. Another 18 miles of descending and mild climbs brings you past Horsetooth Mountain as you circle back down to the start. Pat yourself on the back, and chow down on some post-ride recovery fuel in Fort Collins.

Click here for the route on Strava.

Estes Park Loop

Estes Park Road SignBeginning in Loveland, Colorado, this Strava route takes you from the plains of the front range to Estes Park and back. Cutting through Roosevelt National Forest, the route changes from rolling hills to twisty mountain roads.

Following the Big Thompson River for the first half of the ride gives you a serene soundtrack for the steady climb up to Estes Park. As soon as you reach the town of Drake, turn left and begin the 12 mile climb towards Estes Park. Enjoy the rocky plains and deep alpine wilderness of the area as you ascend towards your destination.

Due to the high altitude of Estes park, check the weather before your ride for no nasty surprises!

After reaching Estes park, I recommend you refill your bottles and maybe even grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. Life is short, so if you aren’t training for the Tour de France, sit down and have a snack. Estes Park is also home to the Stanley Hotel, which was the source of inspiration for Stephen King’s famous novel “The Shining”.

After your mid-ride visit to the snack bar, and possibly to the Stanley Hotel, begin the switchback ascent towards Glen Haven. If you skipped on the water refill in Estes Park, you can visit Glen Haven General Store for some refills (and some cinnamon rolls). After passing through Glen Haven, begin the epic descent following the Big Thompson back into Loveland.

Click here for the route on Strava.

Durango To Silverton Climb


Million Dollar HighwayThis hair-raising route ascends almost 6,000 feet from Durango to Silverton. Both towns are steeped in history, as they were both founded during the Gold Rush. However, its not ghosts from the Wild West that make the route a bit scary. The countless hairpin turns, extremely steep climbs, and sheer drop-offs along highway 550, also known as the Million Dollar Highway, will unnerve even the most seasoned cyclist.

Stop by Zia’s Taqueria in Durango for some authentic Mexican grub!

After leaving Durango, you will begin an easy ascent northwards up Highway 550. The road then rises steeply for several miles, slightly leveling off before you encounter the main two epic climbs. Characterized by steep drop offs and a noticeable lack of guardrails, the impressive scenery can distract one enough to careen off this precarious road. So take care, and focus on the road in front of you. After the first climb, there is a nice descent where you can recharge in order to annihilate the final steep climb.

Once you summit the second climb, enjoy the 6+ mile descent into the former silver mining town of Silverton. Seen from afar, the little town of Silverton is a sight to behold. Lying in a remote valley, the town has many 19th century buildings, giving it an authentic Wild West era feel. If your lucky, you might even get to see the narrow gauge steam train that carts tourists from Durango to Silverton, recreating a journey frequented by Gold Rushers of the late 19th century.

Click here for the route on Strava.

Grand Junction’s Turtle Back Loop

The roads are smooth, the views endless and expansive. With a desert-like, semi-arid climate, the terrain around Grand Junction is almost like an alien landscape. With huge red rocks lining crisp black tarmac along miles of climbs and descents, you’ll circumnavigate Colorado National Monument, home to ancient canyons and rock formations.

Once you leave Lincoln Park and the suburban sprawl of Grand Junction, you cross the bridge over the Colorado River and enter the canyon lands of Colorado National Monument. You’ll follow Rimrock Drive along the majority of the loop, so enjoy the 14 miles of climbing, descending and epic views.

Due to the gradient map of this route looking like a turtle’s back, I’ve named it the Turtles Back Loop.

Once you finish the three main climbs, begin your descent on one of the twistiest, most incredibly fun descending roads in Colorado. Along the way, its recommended you visit one of the many lookout sites, as you can see rock formations similar to those found at nearby Mesa Verde. After you finish racing out of the ancient canyons and rock formations, enjoy the rolling hills back into town.

Click here for the route on Strava.

Steamboat+Oak Creek Loop

Road near Steamboat SpringsSteamboat Springs is most frequently thought of as a ski town. With a world class ski resort minutes away from bars and hotels, not many people realize that there is also world class cycling in the area. Steamboat Springs is home to several popular cycling races, including the Tour de Steamboat Springs, and the Steamboat Spring Stage Race.

With countless climbs and beautiful scenery, its no wonder Steamboat Springs is known as a cycling haven.

In honor of such an illustrious cycling tradition, we begin our cycle route from the center of downtown Steamboat. After stretching your legs on the first few warm-up hills, you can begin tackling the 8 epic climbs through 30 miles of high altitude terrain.

Surrounded by farmers fields and lush valleys, you’ll be riding a big circle around Thorpe and Blacktail mountains. Be prepared for abrupt inclines and descents. Once your done with the unique form of self-masochism that is riding bikes up hills, enjoy the comparatively easy spin back into Steamboat Springs.

Click here for the route on Strava.

Colorado cycling is all about epic climbs, thin air and fast descents. However, always wear sunblock due to the intense Colorado sun.

In Conclusion:

Strava Cycle routes road example
Happy Climbing!

I recommend you download these routes onto whatever GPS system you are using for navigation. Many areas of these Strava cycle routes are remote and there is no signal. So, a breadcrumb trail like those produced by the Lezyne Super GPS is quite useful. With the route downloaded onto your device, you can backtrack your way to familiar roads. To download the route, simply visit the Strava link for each route, and download the GPX or TCX file onto your GPS device.

Also, make sure to bring plenty of carbohydrates and liquids. With the intense heat of Colorado and the level of exertion cycling requires, you will get hungry and thirsty fast. Bring more gels and snacks than you think you’ll need. A portable water filtration system is also quite handy. Sometimes you’ll be miles from any potable water and you can use it to drink from a nearby stream or river if you’ve run out.

Embark on a challenge like none other and try some of these epic Strava cycle routes!

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The Best Strava Cycle Routes In Colorado
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The Best Strava Cycle Routes In Colorado
Enjoy a challenge? Then try some of my favorite Strava cycle routes in Colorado!

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