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Cheyenne to Raton

Old 11-02-23, 06:18 PM
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Cheyenne to Raton

Has anyone here bikepacked from Cheyenne to Raton? If so, where did you camp along the way?
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Old 11-05-23, 11:40 PM
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In August of 2021 I covered Denver to Cheyenne.
I camped in the Boyd Lake State Park, between Loveland and Fort Collins.
The camp ground was a bit "Developed" for my taste but the best I could do in that semi-urban area.

Good luck with your trip. It sounds like fun.
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Old 11-06-23, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by sparkyjsb
Has anyone here bikepacked from Cheyenne to Raton? If so, where did you camp along the way?
Is your preference for mountains or plains? Is your preference for paved roads or not? That can make a big difference on choices.

If going off-pavement bikepacking I would be tempted to find my way to Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR). Roughly break it into three parts (a) Cheyenne to North Park (Walden area), (b) Walden to South Park (Alamosa area) and (c) South Park to Raton.

If staying on paved routes along the plains, I would follow the front range cities and by way of Denver metro, Colorado Springs, etc

There are a lot of possible routes in either choice as well as places to camp in either.
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Old 11-06-23, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by sparkyjsb
Has anyone here bikepacked from Cheyenne to Raton? If so, where did you camp along the way?
As said above, it would depend on your route. If you are stick mostly to I-25 corridor, there are a number of state parks that you can use. Colorado Parks and Wildlife can be a good resource for finding campgrounds. I wouldn’t suggest “wild camping” anywhere along the I-25 corridor as most of the “wild camping” that you could do is probably taken up by homeless people. If you go to the west, the US Forest Service would be the best place for information.

I don’t know if I would go all the way over to the Great Divide route from Cheyenne. That’s a long ways across the state. Look into the Laramie River Road to cut off some of the ride west from Cheyenne.

Once you get to Hartsel, head over to the Royal Gorge and go up Wet Valley through Westcliffe to La Veta. You can go east from there to Walsenburg or you can continue south up Cucharas Pass to Cordova Pass and down to Agular or over to Stone Wall. Cordova Pass is dirt but easily rideable.

Google Maps says to go over the old Raton Pass to get to Raton but that is a closed road. You’ll have to ride the interstate or divert east around the mountains. Tarantula Cycles has some gravel routes from Agular to Raton that avoid the Interstate but add miles and there isn’t much in the way of camping out there.

Edit: If you go the Wet Valley route, take the opportunity to go across the Royal Gorge Bridge. You can ride or walk over it.
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Old 11-06-23, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
Is your preference for mountains or plains? Is your preference for paved roads or not? That can make a big difference on choices.

If going off-pavement bikepacking I would be tempted to find my way to Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR). Roughly break it into three parts (a) Cheyenne to North Park (Walden area), (b) Walden to South Park (Alamosa area) and (c) South Park to Raton.

If staying on paved routes along the plains, I would follow the front range cities and by way of Denver metro, Colorado Springs, etc

There are a lot of possible routes in either choice as well as places to camp in either.
Thanks, hoping to follow, as much as possible, the Front Range Trail Network. Would like to do paved the whole way if possible, if not would consider some gravel, but definitely not looking to load up the mountain bike for this, would rather use the road bike.
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Old 11-06-23, 01:21 PM
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Thanks, hoping to follow, as much as possible, the Front Range Trail Network. Would like to do paved the whole way if possible, if not would consider some gravel, but definitely not looking to load up the mountain bike for this, would rather use the road bike. At this point, as a general guide, I'm looking at the suggested bike route on Google Maps from Cheyenne to Raton. I know there was an impromptu race that followed this general route a few years ago and was wondering if anyone else has tried this self supported; and if so what their segments looked like, and where they stayed the nights.
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Old 11-06-23, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by sparkyjsb
Thanks, hoping to follow, as much as possible, the Front Range Trail Network. Would like to do paved the whole way if possible, if not would consider some gravel, but definitely not looking to load up the mountain bike for this, would rather use the road bike. At this point, as a general guide, I'm looking at the suggested bike route on Google Maps from Cheyenne to Raton. I know there was an impromptu race that followed this general route a few years ago and was wondering if anyone else has tried this self supported; and if so what their segments looked like, and where they stayed the nights.
Now that we know your general route, it’s easier to help. First off, plan on campgrounds. There is no wild camping/dispersed camping along this route. It’s all private land or urban. I’d also suggest using Allstays campground. You can use the website or use the Allstays app. Both are very good resourses.

I’ll try to break the suggestions into chewable bites but be aware that there isn’t much south of Pueblo. From Cheyenne to the Fort Collins area, there are several options. There is a KOA outside of Wellington about 40 miles away. There is a KOA outside of La Porte about 50 miles away. Lory State Park/Horsetooth Reservoir is also a good option about 50 miles from Cheyenne. Boyd Lake State Park is 63 miles from Cheyenne.

St Vrain State Park would be a good second day from Ft Collins at about 40 miles. The next closest option is either Cherry Creek State Park or Chatfield State Park, both of which are about 80 miles from Boyd Lake.

The next section has very little in the way of camping. You could do a hotel but for camping, it’s limited. Jellystone, Larkspur is technically a campground and Allstays says it has tent sites but they don’t list them on the website. You’d probably want to call. If Jellystone doesn’t take tents, your only option is Pikes Peak campground and Garden of the Gods campground (both private) near Manitou Springs. That’s going to be an 80 mile haul from Chatfield.

From Manitou to Pueblo, there is a KOA north of Pueblo which is about 60 miles away. Be aware that Google maps will take you almost all the way down to Pueblo before they make you backtrack. You don’t have to do that. Take Piñon Road and you can ride on the Interstate for a few miles. It’s allowed and while a bit noisy, it’s not all that bad for riding since the Interstate has a very wide shoulder.

The other option in Lake Pueblo State Park is at 64 miles from Manitou. Don’t take the suggestion that Google Maps makes west of the Interstate as that is the middle of Fort Carson…stupid Google!

There are two campgrounds south of Pueblo at Colorado City about 40 miles south. The next campgrounds are at Lathrop State Park outside of Walsenburg or Dakota campground which is a private one along I-25.

Trinidad is next. There are hotel options in Trinidad or you can go up towards Cokedale and stay at Trinidad Lake State Park. Distance is about 60 miles.

The last bit is Raton Pass. I’ve driven it many times and thought about doing it but jeeze it is nasty. There is always construction on it. It is always kind of messed up. You might consider the Border Lands Epic from Tarantula Cycles to go over to Raton. I’d give them a call and talk about that route over to Raton. There are a number of campgrounds in the Raton area including a KOA and campsites at Sugarite State Park.

Long winded, I know. Wish you luck.
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Old 11-07-23, 04:11 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
The last bit is Raton Pass. I’ve driven it many times and thought about doing it but jeeze it is nasty. There is always construction on it. It is always kind of messed up. You might consider the Border Lands Epic from Tarantula Cycles to go over to Raton. I’d give them a call and talk about that route over to Raton. There are a number of campgrounds in the Raton area including a KOA and campsites at Sugarite State Park.
Construction is the wild card here. Since 2020, I've driven Raton Pass a few times each year (visiting elderly parents in Denver area from a place I have in New Mexico).

Last time I drove (April), it would have been possible. The time before that (December) the lack of a shoulder would have made it extremely dangerous. I'll look again in November and December.

Before the construction, I have cycled over Raton Pass. It is an OK ride when the shoulder is available.

I would think of a few alternatives.

1. Does it have to be Raton? If instead you are willing to consider Antonito CO/Taos NM as end point. Both Poncha Pass and routes down 285/17 are nicer than what you'll find on the I-25 corridor. I stayed at Hot Springs Recreation in Hooper Colorado. Small area to camp and admission to the nice hot pool/swimming area. If I was doing this, I would go by way of Canon City/Salida. I went via Salida/Alamosa/Taos/Santa Fe in 2016 and all reasonable cycling.

2. Does it have to be Raton? Cycling to Trinidad will get you up to exit 11 and you can cycle local road to within 10 miles of the border. Make the ending Trinidad instead.

3. Strava heat maps suggest a small number of cyclists both over Raton Pass and a few miles further east and then to NM 526. Strava heat maps also show a few over Raton Pass. So there are people who have cycled both routes - but I'd check local knowledge on specifics.

​​​​
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Old 11-07-23, 06:37 AM
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I don't know about all of I-25, but some sections where I have ridden the access road is really nice. It can be a long way from the noise and traffic, even out of sight. There were lots of prong horn antelope to entertain me. Where I was the scenery was good. The Sangre de Christo mountains were to the west and the views were there without the steep climbs. The actual interstate wasn't bad either. The shoulder was fairly clean and the traffic wasn't super heavy. It was conducive to knocking out long mileage. I think the section into Santa Fe was my longest day ever. That was all south of where you would be riding though. That said if you are thinking of the flatter prarie route it is likely similar.
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Old 11-07-23, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I don't know about all of I-25, but some sections where I have ridden the access road is really nice. It can be a long way from the noise and traffic, even out of sight. There were lots of prong horn antelope to entertain me. Where I was the scenery was good. The Sangre de Christo mountains were to the west and the views were there without the steep climbs. The actual interstate wasn't bad either. The shoulder was fairly clean and the traffic wasn't super heavy. It was conducive to knocking out long mileage. I think the section into Santa Fe was my longest day ever. That was all south of where you would be riding though. That said if you are thinking of the flatter prarie route it is likely similar.
The Colorado Bicycle Map shows where it s legal and not legal to ride on I-25 - https://www.codot.gov/programs/bikep...bicycling-maps
,
From what I know:
- The first section from the Wyoming border (mile 299.x) until exit 288, the frontage road is rough/unpaved and switches side to side; I ride the interstate which is fine, though had a moderate amount of debris in August when I last rode it
- At 288, bicycles are prohibited until south side of Denver, (a little less than mile 195 or so); the frontage road to Fort Collins is OK but there are also paved Larimer County roads.
- From south side of Fort Collins, mile 265 to Longmont, mile 240 there has been a lot of construction and changes in frontage roads; I wouldn't look for them; after that similarly there are better routes.
- After Denver, I've always gone further west through Colorado Springs, mile 155 or so and then through Colorado Springs.
- Less sure from Colorado Springs to Pueblo at mile 99.
- After Pueblo to the border, traffic decreases significantly. These are spots I would consider riding the interstate again and are most similar to that described above.
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Old 11-07-23, 10:25 AM
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I don’t know how it is these days, but back when I was a Boy Scout in the 80s, my troop used to camp in the woods at the USAF Academy. It may be a longshot these days, but if you’re a veteran, it wouldn’t hurt to ask beforehand and build that into the route.
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Old 11-07-23, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
Construction is the wild card here. Since 2020, I've driven Raton Pass a few times each year (visiting elderly parents in Denver area from a place I have in New Mexico).

Last time I drove (April), it would have been possible. The time before that (December) the lack of a shoulder would have made it extremely dangerous. I'll look again in November and December.

Before the construction, I have cycled over Raton Pass. It is an OK ride when the shoulder is available.

I would think of a few alternatives.

1. Does it have to be Raton? If instead you are willing to consider Antonito CO/Taos NM as end point. Both Poncha Pass and routes down 285/17 are nicer than what you'll find on the I-25 corridor. I stayed at Hot Springs Recreation in Hooper Colorado. Small area to camp and admission to the nice hot pool/swimming area. If I was doing this, I would go by way of Canon City/Salida. I went via Salida/Alamosa/Taos/Santa Fe in 2016 and all reasonable cycling.

2. Does it have to be Raton? Cycling to Trinidad will get you up to exit 11 and you can cycle local road to within 10 miles of the border. Make the ending Trinidad instead.

3. Strava heat maps suggest a small number of cyclists both over Raton Pass and a few miles further east and then to NM 526. Strava heat maps also show a few over Raton Pass. So there are people who have cycled both routes - but I'd check local knowledge on specifics.

​​​​
I drove Raton Pass just a couple of weeks ago. They’re construction on the New Mexico side currently right near the top. But there just seems to be constant construction on it and has been that way for the better part of 10 years.

The problem with NM526 is that it turns into Las Animas County 85.5. A bit further north, the road seems to peter out and is no longer designated as a county road. It looks like there is one there that goes over San Francisco Pass on Google Maps but it looks kind of iffy. Like you said, best to check locally at the link provided.
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Old 11-11-23, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by sparkyjsb
Has anyone here bikepacked from Cheyenne to Raton? If so, where did you camp along the way?
Are you talking this time of year or in the summer? How much time? Restaurants or eating out?
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Old 11-11-23, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by John N
Are you talking this time of year or in the summer? How much time? Restaurants or eating out?
This time of year wouldn’t be horrible. Falls tend to be quite mild here in along the Front Range. There can be weather extremes but, for the most part, you could do much of this particular route most any time of the year…as long as you paid attention to the weather.
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Old 11-11-23, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
This time of year wouldn’t be horrible. Falls tend to be quite mild here in along the Front Range. There can be weather extremes but, for the most part, you could do much of this particular route most any time of the year…as long as you paid attention to the weather.
I totally agree if in the summer, that open things up a bit if the OP is not rushed. That is why I asked.
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Old 12-27-23, 01:09 PM
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Front Range Research

Thanks everyone for the info. I plan on starting some scouting runs next year, pretty much any weekend above 50F. Hoping to piece together some sort of cohesive run from border to border until the dream of the Front Range Trail comes to fruition. Looking forward to this project; and creating a "Great Divide" option for roadies.
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