Jul 1, 2009 at 2:46 pm #1237474
A friend and I are trying to figure out how we can do two weeks of backpacking in Colorado just by flying in. We are too young to rent a car and don't really know anyone out there, so we were hoping to find some answers from that most knowledgeable of communities, the gear heads and gram counters of BPL. How can we get around without a car? What awesome trips can we go on just using what is available? Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance!
JedJul 25, 2009 at 11:17 pm #1516563
I know there are shuttles from DIA to downtown denver and some all the way into the mountain ski area when it's ski season, but there is also a train fron downtown denver to atleast Steamboat Springs if i remember right. It's also not that uncommon to find people in your simular situation, keep your thumb out when you get there and smile, smelling good helps too. good luckJul 26, 2009 at 1:01 am #1516569
Depends on how much time you have. Hitchhiking is an option, but unfortunately not a safe one. Using the train and bus is probably the most obvious answer. I would strongly suggest using bicycles, but it depends on how much distance you want to cover in how much time. Someone who is reasonably fit can easily do about 100 kilometers a day, no problem. If you're in much better shape you can get to about 150 to 200 kilometers a day especially if you go very light. And since bicycle touring and backpacking basically cover the same gear for camping, plus traveling ultralight makes the bicycling easier, you have most of that covered. I've done most of my long trips around the world by bicycle. If you have experience with river kayaking or canoeing, you can descend a river and stop a long the way to go backpacking…
just some suggestions…Jul 26, 2009 at 6:13 am #1516572
Someone who is reasonably fit can easily do about 100 kilometers a day, no problem. If you're in much better shape you can get to about 150 to 200 kilometers a day
Hmmm … I use my bike on a pretty much daily basis April thru Oct and I've used my bike for shuttling on both backpacking and canoeing trips. While I can imagine myself getting in shape for 100km in the part of CO where I'd like to backpack I'm not sure I'd plan on it and would never dream to call it easy.
But it could work for hard core cyclers.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3562/3399195750_050c312f5d_b.jpgJul 26, 2009 at 8:19 am #1516584
Hi Jim, note that the numbers were in kilometers, not miles. Quite a difference. 100 kilometers is not difficult. Honest. And I'm really not talking about bicycle racing which I personally have absolutely no interest in. I'm a hard core bicycle tourist, but I like to go at a very leisurely pace, almost always self-supported. My wife and I traveled for six months around Europe by bicycle, and she had only ridden a bicycle for six months before that! We regularly did 100 kilometer days with very heavily laden mountain bikes (this was before I discovered UL), unless it was in the mountains, like in Norway. I imagine we would have made quite a lot further distances if we had gone UL. The thinking is very similar to the "get up early and hike slowly until the evening" philosophy of UL backpacking. You can walk a long way… some people do 40 miles!… in a day if you go light and steadily.Jul 26, 2009 at 8:35 am #1516586
Black Hills Stage runs from Denver International Airport to Gunnison/Crested Butte, stopping in Salida, among other places. It would get you close to the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.
There is great hiking out of Crested Butte, and there are locals willing, for a fee, to get you to trailheads.
Google "Vail Shuttle" and "Copper Shuttle" for a variety of I-70 services. They are expensive though ($200-$400).
Once out of the City, hitching is pretty easy, especially if you have a sign and look halfway non-threatening.
If you can figure out local buses from DIA you could do the CT from Denver to Salida. Or from the I-70 corridor, the CDT to Salida.Jul 26, 2009 at 8:49 am #1516588
Jed, may I ask how old you are? If you are too young to rent a car, does that mean you are under 21? If so I would think that people recommending hitch hiking stop a moment to consider the consequences.Jul 26, 2009 at 9:34 am #1516594
Another service –
The Zerkel Wilderness is small, but pretty nice.
The Flattops are worth considering as well.Jul 26, 2009 at 12:48 pm #1516637
Thanks to RTD, it is possible (but not convenient) to get close to rocky mountain national park. One way is to take the Skyride from DIA to the Denver station, then a bus either Boulder or Longmont. From there, there are seperate runs that can take you to Lyons. Lyons is a small town down hill from Estes Park. If you can make it from Lyons to Estes (a short run that is not uncommonly hitchhiked) there is a shuttle into RMNP that drops you off a trailheads. You can then hike the trails to the end of another trailhead and then catch another shuttle to the next cluster of trails.
If you get hopelessly stuck, let me know. I'm in Longmont and my wife frequently drives to Estes Park for work. How many people are going with you?
To be absolutely honest, it is hard to get around here and experience all that we have available without a car. In Boulder, assuming you are >18 but <25, you may be able to rent those 50cc scooters at some places and take the bike lane up to RMNP (it would suck, but doable) or just hit all of the trails along the Front Range that are walking distance from the Boulder stops (actually, that's quite a few and even some summit runs, but no backpacking, just day hikes). Another option is offering someone a bit of $ to transport you around on craigslist. I love Indian Peaks Wilderness this time of year, less tourists and just as grand as RMNP, however, it would be impossible to get to without a ride or some massive preparation on biking it (major uphills).
If you will be staying in the Boulder area, there is the Boulder Hostel which is reasonably priced. If you are planning on camping at campsites, call ahead, it's tourist season.
Depending on the situation, I might be available to shuttle some folks to the hills.
Oh, I also wanted to give you a heads up. If you are from low altitude, keep in mind that everything up here is between 5K-14K. There are few things that are friendly to lowlanders. Regardless of physical fitness, altitude sickness can weaken anyone into having a very, very bad time. Unless you currently live at 5K+, I do not recommend trying to bike your way around here as a tourist and THEN have enough energy to go hiking.Jul 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm #1516665
I realized it was km (100km=62.5miles). Some days I commute half that distance round trip.
I wouldn't hesitate committing to a 5 day 300km trip leaving tomorrow … here in MN where oxygen is plentiful and a big climb is 100 meters.
CO is a different story, especially for flatlanders.
On the other hand, there are plenty CO residents who consider multiple 10,000 ft passes to be a nice ride.
My wife and I traveled for six months around Europe.
Color me jealous! … that's one of those dreams I didn't do before we became parents. Now that the kids are older than I was when we started that path I'm dearly hoping to ride from Amsterdam to ??? in a couple years (destination is Estonia, not sure I'm up for 2000km though)Jul 26, 2009 at 7:11 pm #1516687
FYI: a bike ride from longmont to Indian Peaks would be an elevation gain of ~5,000 feet of steady gain over 30 miles.
Also, tourists regularly end up with altitude sickness just making it to the trailhead. It only gets higher from there.Jul 27, 2009 at 8:38 am #1516755
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
Lots of people fly in to hike the colorado trail. info on how to take public transport to that trailhead (and others) is on their website. i also found a trail angel who gives rides on trailforums.com
I had great luck with hitching in colorado but wouldn't hitch in the front range.
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