Spanish Peaks & Great Sand Dunes
The Spanish Peaks of south central Colorado are among the most important landmarks in the southwestern United States, guiding Native American tribes, trappers, and American settlers. The Ute and other Indian tribes held the Peaks in religious awe and named the mountains Wahatoya, meaning “Breasts of the Earth.” Lizard Head Cycling’s Spanish Peaks and Great Sand Dunes National Park, one of our best Colorado Bicycle Tours, explores this remote region rich in biological diversity, history and scenic beauty.
Colorado is a land of contrasts with no bigger disparity then the transition from prairie to alpine environment. The eastern third of Colorado is the western edge of the Great Plains. As one heads west from Kansas, the landscape changes dramatically and seemingly out of nowhere, the Colorado Rockies rise in awe thousands of feet above the landscape. If you have never seen this, your jaw may scrape the pavement as this view appears before you.” – Michael Seeberg, author of Road Biking Colorado
Spanish Peaks & Great Sand Dunes Bike Tour: Highlights
The Great Sand Dunes National Park, Southwest Colorado; cradle of Colorado’s Hispanic Culture, Colorado’s oldest town; San Luis, the Highway of the Legends Scenic By-Way, Pike’s Peak and the Sangre De Christo (Blood of Christ Mountains).
“Being a lover of mountains and forests I did not expect to feel the way I did when documenting Colorado’s Great Plains. There is tremendous scenery with a feeling of immensity — a sense of vastness you can’t get in the mountain unless standing atop a peak. This is a not cornfield: its open range in a landscape that is anything but flat. In the winter, it’s a windswept and harsh a place as any. In the spring (late-April & May), it’s a vast rolling carpet of fluorescent green and wildflowers.” – Michael Seeberg, author of Road Biking Colorado
Spanish Peaks & Great Sand Dunes Bike Tour: Tour Dates
Potential tour dates are listed below. Please see the Spring/Fall Tour Calendar and the Summer Tour Calendar for confirmed departures. Any unopened date can be a Custom Week (9 riders required). Please contact us via email or call 970.728.5891.
Summer 2017 Tour Dates
- June 18 to 24, 2017 – 3 Provisional Spots Remain: Please Contact Us for Details
- July 16 to 22, 2017 (Book Now!)
- August 27 to Sept. 2, 2017 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO! 5 spots remain
Spanish Peaks & Great Sand Dunes Bike Tour: Overview
Best Time to Ride: May through September
Starting Town: Colorado Springs, Colorado (Colorado Springs Airport – COS)
Ending Town: Durango, Colorado (Durango–La Plata County Airport – DRO)
Tour Length: 7-Days | 7-Nights Lodging (Sunday through Friday)
Total Mileage: Standard 350 Miles or E.F.I (every freaking inch) 495 Miles. (Can I keep up on this tour?)
Mileage Average Range: 50-101 miles
Ability Level: 2/3 (Intermediate to Advanced)
Group Size: 6 to 13
Tour Cost: $2,790- per person. Group discount of $200 per person for groups of 4 or more.
Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.
NOTE: The tour includes 7-night of lodging from Sunday through Saturday.
Single Room Supplement: $595- for a private room each night of the tour.
Road Bike Rental: Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to rent Scott CR-1 Pro and Scott Solace carbon road bikes with full Shimano Ultegra components for only $250/week, or $150 for 3 or 4 day tours. Both the CR-1 and Solace models are sub- 17 lb comfortable, high performance bicycles geared for climbing hills. In addition we also have electric bikes available for rental at $375/week. And finally we have a selection of straight bar road bikes and kids bikes in our rental fleet. Just let us know what you need and we can probably find it.
Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.
Electric Bike Rental: We now have a limited selection of SCOTT electric bikes that can be reserved for our tours. These are road bikes with straight bars that make the slowest rider the fastest rider in the group. Rental Price is $375/week.
Couples Bike Rental Discount: Sign up as a couple and receive one free bike high performance rental per couple ($250 value).
Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.
Tour Includes: 7-nights of lodging (Sunday through Saturday nights), 6-days of meals, guide service, entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, shuttles and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, massage therapy & bike rental are additional.
Lodging for 7 nights: (subject to change)
- Night 1: Florence Rose Bed & Breakfast, Florence, Colorado (elevation 5,180-feet)
- Night 2: Tarabino Inn, Trinidad, Colorado (elevation 6,010-feet)
- Night 3: 1899 Bed & Breakfast Inn, La Veta, Colorado (elevation 7,037-feet)
- Night 4: Great Sand Dunes Lodge, Mosca, Colorado (elevation 7,559-feet)
- Night 5: Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Gunnison, Colorado (elevation 7,700-feet)
- Night 6: The Firemen’s Inn, Creede, Colorado (elevation 8,799-feet)
- Night 7: Strater Hotel, Durango, Colorado (elevation 6,512-feet)
Additional Activities: Swimming, waterfalls, massage, and yoga. For private groups we can offer a spectacular hike of 14,000-foot Culebra peak on Day 3.
Meals On Tour
Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients. Guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu: including appetizer, salad, entree and of course dessert... yum! Also, while on tour if a guest wants to dine early before the group and go to bed, this is fine. We understand that on some days sleep is the most important post ride element.
Lunches on Tour: Lizard Head Cycling Guides prepares healthy lunches to keep you going. We will serve you fresh organic fruits and veggies, salads, hummus, sandwich fixings, nuts, gourmet cheeses and of course plenty of salty/sweet snacks such as chips and cookies. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works for you during the week. Gluten Free, Dairy Free or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!
Overall Route Map
NOTE: During the tour Lizard Head Cycling offers a few short shuttles to avoid undesirable car clustered sections.
Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?
Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a “bump” via the support vehicle, or a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time. After the bump the rider is “off the front” and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group. They’ll then have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery. All cyclists come together in time for lunch. Afterwards, cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.
Seamless Mileage Options
Lizard Head Cycling Guides designs multiple mileage options for each tour – something we’re well known for in our business. Daily shuttle options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy our tours through mileage customization.
Slow or Fast?
PLEASE don’t be scared away from this tour. Many cyclists who sign up for our tours have worried themselves silly about not being able to keep up, but then they’re surprised to find that all the worrying was about nothing. They do just fine! Slow and Fast only exist as relative terms to other people. Speed does not matter as long as you are moving on the bike.
Like we say to even the most reluctant cyclists: “You will be ready for a Lizard Head Cycling tour when you are finished with a Lizard Head Cycling tour”.
If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office via email or call us at 970.728.5891 - we'll more than happy to guide you!
Please also see this blog post for more information.
Spanish Peaks & Great Sand Dunes Bike Tour: Itinerary*
*Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Please view this itinerary as an outline as to what to expect on this tour.
Day 1: Florissant to Cañon City, CO
50 miles with up to 2,850 feet of climbing
We begin our tour from deep within the front range with inspiring views on well paved roads along rolling terrain as we plummet nearly 5,500′ during the course of a 50-mile trek from Florissant to Canon City. Beware! There are some punchy climbs on the way down to Canon City. A treat near the end of the day will be a short section of narrow road called Skyline Drive that follows a ridge top traverse. The day ends in Cañon City’s municipal park.
Day 2: Florence to Colorado City, CO
60 miles with up to 6,215 feet of climbing
Starting from Florence today’s route begins with gentle climbing into the Wet Mountains that soon turns to steep climbing between the 11 to 22 mile mark. After the turn south onto the Greenhorn Highway, we enjoy a tremendous piece of road. The views of the Wet Mountains and Sangre De Christos during the day are spectacular and to the east, it appears one can see all the way to Kansas! After a stop at the uniquely strange Bishop Castle, there are a series of rollers and then a screaming 13-mile descent down through the Huckleberry Hills to Colorado City to end the ride at Obie’s Fillin’ Station for BBQ. We shuttle to Trinidad, Colorado for our accommodations at the Tarabino Inn.
Day 3: Trinidad to La Veta, CO
66 miles with up to 5,665 feet of climbing
Today ride The Highway of the Legends Scenic Byway around the Spanish Peaks. The route climbs up and over 9,995-foot Cuchara Pass and then quickly descends to the town of La Veta (7,013-feet) for tonight’s lodging. This is a big climb to Cuchara Pass with a real steep kick at the end. As a result there are big king of the mountain points to be gained on Cuchara Pass! From atop the pass it is a fast descent to end the day.
Day 4: La Veta to Great Sand Dunes National Park
61 miles with up to 3,270 feet of climbing
From La Veta, Colorado we’ll ride up to North La Veta Pass (9,413-feet) and after the descent through the towns of Fort Garland and Blanca while traversing around southern base of 14,000-foot Blanca Peak. The riding from the 4-mile mark to the 13-mile mark climbs North La Veta Pass. At the top the pavement improves and the shoulder widens for the rest of the ride to the Great Sand Dunes National Park!
Day 5: Moffat to Gunnison, CO
87 miles with up to 3,500 feet of climbing
Today we’ll ride across the 7,000-foot San Luis valley past endless fields of potatoes. From the town of Saguache the route follows Hwy 114 for 62-miles toward Gunnison. Highway 114 is a beautiful road that crosses the continental divide at North Pass and then descends nearly 40-miles into Gunnison.
Day 6: Gunnison to Creede, CO – The Cannibal Classic!
106 Man-Eating-Miles with up to 8,400 feet of climbing (Optional: 75-Mile ride)
The “Cannibal Classic” is one of the most challenging stages of the tour having earned its name from the infamous Alfred Packer, a miner who became snowbound on an ill-fated journey into the San Juan Mountains in the late 1800’s. Come spring, Packer was the only remaining miner alive from his party of six, looking pretty healthy. He had literally eaten his compatriots!
At approximately mile 58, you will take on one of the steepest paved mountain passes in Colorado – Slumgullion Pass at an elevation of 11,530 feet! This monster is a 6 mile climb that ascends nearly 3,000 feet; its average 7% to 9% grades feels particularly brutal coming at mile 90 of the Cannibal Classic.
At the top, you’ll descend 4 miles and then climb another 4 miles at a mere 4% grade to Spring Creek Pass and the Continental Divide. From Spring Creek, it’s just about a 30-mile descent to the wild west town of Creede.
Day 7: Creede to Pagosa Springs, CO
64 miles with up to 3,400 feet of climbing
Riding south from Creede, you’ll pedal across the remote headwaters of Rio Grande watershed. The largest wilderness area in Colorado, the Weimuniche Wilderness, borders this lush region. After climbing the impressive Wolf Creek Pass (10,863’) near the end of the day, you’ll have climbed over the Continental Divide for the second time in two days.
Thrill to a 4,000-foot descent from Wolf Creek to Pagosa Springs along the headwaters of the San Juan River. We’ll be in close proximity to New Mexico and get a whiff of the state’s famous and fragrant green chile. After arriving in Pagosa Springs, you will enjoy a much-needed and deserved soak in the hot springs before a short shuttle to Durango, Colorado where we’ll check into our final night of lodging at the historic Strater Hotel.
Spanish Peaks & Great Sand Dunes Bike Tour: Logistics & FAQs
Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with BikeFlights.com. Bikes can be shipped either to our partner bike shop in each meeting town for professional assembly or directly to the meeting hotel for self-assembly. Bike boxes can generally be left at the meeting hotel during the tour. Bikes shipped across the continental US should be shipped 8 days prior to your tour.
Meals: Any dietary preferences or allergies should be noted on the registration form. Each of Lizard Head Cycling’s lunches contains gluten free options.
Ride Difficulty: This custom tour is designed for INTERMEDIATE to ADVANCED cyclists with various levels of fitness. Each day there are additional mileage options for advanced riders.
Tour Support: A 15-passenger van and trailer that carries luggage, food and equipment will support this tour.
General Tour & Cancellation Policies
Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of our tour and cancellation policies, which can be found by clicking here.
Lizard Head Cycling Guides teams up with Seven Corners for travel insurance. Seven Corners offers:
- Travel Medical
- Medical Evacuation
- 24/7 Assistance
- Trip Cancellation
Be sure to go to our custom Seven Corners portal by clicking this link or by clicking the the banner on the right after confirming your tour with us to get a quote on travel insurance.