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Best Route from Zion National Park to Leadville, Colorado

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Best Route from Zion National Park to Leadville, Colorado

Old 05-01-15, 12:08 PM
  #1  
kristinaz
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Best Route from Zion National Park to Leadville, Colorado

Hello Everyone!

My partner and I are in the middle of a bike tour (started in San Francisco) and need some advice with route planning.

We are hoping to bike from Zion National Park (we are currently here now) to Leadville, Colorado. Has anyone done a similar route? Elevation is no problem for us but we are looking for: roads that are paved (we have a road bike & a Long Haul Trucker), a decent shoulder, roads that are not too busy (hopefully no freeways) and little truck traffic.

Any ideas? Is is possible? Would love suggestions on which way to go!

Thanks a bunch
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Old 05-01-15, 03:00 PM
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gorshkov
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There are four paved roads into Leadville:
(1) Highway 24 from the South from Salida and Buena Vista. This is the flattest option - you gain about 3000 feet over 60 miles, but there are no big passes. The shoulder is pretty good in Chaffee County (Salida and Buena Vista), but goes away when you get to Lake County (where Leadville is) so the last 15 miles have only a narrow shoulder. I don't remember a lot of truck traffic when I rode that way last summer, but the tourist traffic can be pretty bad, especially if you are there on a Friday afternoon or a Sunday.

(2) Highway 24 from the Northwest via Tennessee Pass. This has more climbing, but probably less traffic. As I recall, 24 has a pretty good shoulder on the north side of Tennessee Pass, but I don't remember the south side of the pass.

(3) Highway 91 from the Northeast via Fremont Pass. I've never ridden this road, but I've heard that its a more difficult climb than Tennessee Pass. I would guess that this would have more traffic than Tennessee Pass, because its the most direct route from Denver.

(4) Highway 82 from the West via Independence Pass. This is the most difficult option climbing-wise (12,000 foot summit), and by a pretty large margin. There probably won't be any truck traffic, but there may be lots of RV's especially on a summer weekend. There's not much of a shoulder either.

The simplest, and probably shortest, way would be to take the Western Express to Salida, then go north on 24. Colorado publishes a bicycle map: https://www.codot.gov/programs/bikep...bicycling-maps. This will be helpful for planning the Colorado portion of your trip.
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Old 05-01-15, 04:21 PM
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There is no ride like the Independence Pass ride. Spectacular from Aspen! Nice ride in to Leadville on the other side! Yes, there are RV's and there will be some trucks. Shoulder is not bad but it does have some hair raising sections. It was at the top of my bucket list and glad it's done. Would do it again in a heartbeat.
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Old 05-01-15, 06:24 PM
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valygrl
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It's pretty darn early to be in the Colorado high country. Independence Pass is still closed for winter.

Here's the CO dept of transportation site: https://www.codot.gov/travel
and here's some web cams: Colorado Web Cams

I like to say "yes" to all things touring, but you should pay attention to the weather forecasts, look at web cams to see which roads have snowpack, and prepare to hunker down if there's a storm. It's still ski season up there.
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Old 05-02-15, 01:26 PM
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kristinaz
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Wow - this was super helpful, thanks so much for taking the time to share this information. It looks like we are going to take the Western Express to Salida route.

Happy Travels

KZ



Originally Posted by gorshkov View Post
There are four paved roads into Leadville:
(1) Highway 24 from the South from Salida and Buena Vista. This is the flattest option - you gain about 3000 feet over 60 miles, but there are no big passes. The shoulder is pretty good in Chaffee County (Salida and Buena Vista), but goes away when you get to Lake County (where Leadville is) so the last 15 miles have only a narrow shoulder. I don't remember a lot of truck traffic when I rode that way last summer, but the tourist traffic can be pretty bad, especially if you are there on a Friday afternoon or a Sunday.

(2) Highway 24 from the Northwest via Tennessee Pass. This has more climbing, but probably less traffic. As I recall, 24 has a pretty good shoulder on the north side of Tennessee Pass, but I don't remember the south side of the pass.

(3) Highway 91 from the Northeast via Fremont Pass. I've never ridden this road, but I've heard that its a more difficult climb than Tennessee Pass. I would guess that this would have more traffic than Tennessee Pass, because its the most direct route from Denver.

(4) Highway 82 from the West via Independence Pass. This is the most difficult option climbing-wise (12,000 foot summit), and by a pretty large margin. There probably won't be any truck traffic, but there may be lots of RV's especially on a summer weekend. There's not much of a shoulder either.

The simplest, and probably shortest, way would be to take the Western Express to Salida, then go north on 24. Colorado publishes a bicycle map: https://www.codot.gov/programs/bikep...bicycling-maps. This will be helpful for planning the Colorado portion of your trip.
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Old 05-04-15, 10:14 AM
  #6  
mcallaghan
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I live in Aspen and Independence Pass is clear right now but still closed to Vehicles. I don't think it opens to vehicles until the 15th of May. My coworker rode the pass this weekend, so I imagine you would be fine riding it - and enjoy the benefit of no vehicles whatsoever.
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Old 05-05-15, 12:56 PM
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gorshkov
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This is the sort of thing that makes me wish I still lived in Colorado and could go take advantage of this. This is the way to go if its still open to bikes but closed to cars when you get there. And 133 up to Carbondale is a beautiful area.

Originally Posted by mcallaghan View Post
I live in Aspen and Independence Pass is clear right now but still closed to Vehicles. I don't think it opens to vehicles until the 15th of May. My coworker rode the pass this weekend, so I imagine you would be fine riding it - and enjoy the benefit of no vehicles whatsoever.
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Old 05-05-15, 01:35 PM
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Ironically the Pass was in the newspaper today. They're still blowing snow up at the top to make room for cars and think they'll open early (to cars).

They have a bike 'race' up the Pass, usually the day before it opens to vehicles. I have never ridden up the pass myself, but its a goal this summer for me. I recently did the Castle Creek road up to the Ashcroft Ski Area/Ghost Town which is another beautiful ride...and plan on doing the Maroon Bells ride this coming weekend (weather pending).
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