Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour, Lizard Head Cycling
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891

Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour

Please click here to jump to the Overview section with all tour details including pricing.

Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour: Highlights

Our Mountains-to-Rivers (M2R) Colorado Bike Tour brings together Colorado’s dramatic San Juan Mountains, wild and scenic rivers, one-of-kind historic 19th century Victorian Hotels (some with a scandalous past), Colorado’s finest micro breweries and the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway

Our Mountains-2-Rivers tour rides from Lizard Head Cycling Guides’ home mountain range: the rugged & remote San Juans. The town’s in this region was founded in the late 19th century. The tiny mining towns we ride to include  Ouray, Durango, Silverton, Rico and Telluride. In the late 19th century, these towns were remote outposts of civilization and the town’s felt they needed a landmark hotel to attract investors and to put their towns on the map. In recent years these historic Victorian-Era hotels have seen major renovations and provide an entertaining end to a day of cycling across the Colorado high country. Go ahead, harken back to 1880’s and transform yourself to a time when Victorian opulence was reserved for the rich and famous.

Colorado Bike Tour, High Summer in the Colorado Rockies

High Summer in the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Bike Tour

The Painted Wall at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Colorado Bike Tour

Summer in the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Bike Tour, Lizard Head van

Lizard Head Peak: Our Namesake Mountain

Colorado Bike Tour, Telluride

Hiking Above Telluride!

Colorado Bike Tour, San Juan Mountains

Cycling in the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (America’s Newest National Park), The San Juan Sky-Way, The Unaweep/Tabaguache Scenic By-Way , the Million Dollar Highway and the simply amazing Dolores River Canyon (Colorado’s least known & most spectacular road).

Don’t Worry About the Altitude!

The rarefied air is a tonic to both man & beast! Sea-level cyclists ride this tour each year. Yes, you ride slower and the heart will beat faster in Colorado, but these are the Colorado Rockies and the views alone will make your heart beat faster. Read a Bicycling Magazine article about riding at altitude. Altitude on this tour ranges between 4,500-feet (Gateway Canyons Resort) and 11,000-feet (Red Mountain Pass). The average riding elevation is between 6,500 and 7,500-feet.

Colorado Micro-Breweries

If you are considering Colorado bike tours, the Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour is a well-crafted tour of immense beauty. It also features entertainment each night in towns where old time saloons and Colorado Micro-Breweries abound. Enjoy beer tastings and excellent hospitality as you bike tour across the San Juan Sky-Way and Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic By-Ways.

Some of the breweries we can visit include:

Over the Top!

On the final two nights of our Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour 19th-century Victorian elegance is exchanged for the ultra modern 21st luxury of the Gateway Canyons Resort. There are few places in the world that can provide an experience and location such Gateway Canyons Resort, it has to be seen to be believed. Come see for yourself.

Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour: Testimonials

Read what previous guests on our Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado bike tour have been saying…

The tour was spectacular, and we “flatlanders” were very well taken care of by Scott and Roy as we adjusted to the conditions. The accommodations and meals were excellent, the weather was great (we are used to hot and humid, so hot and dry was no worse), and the scenery was breathtaking. – Diane and Peter

Just finished a tour with them in Southern Colorado. Did one last year in Glacier National Park. They pick great roads to ride, good hotels to stay and keep their riders in good spirit. – Jean-Pierre B.

(This tour) was outstanding. The rides were the best I’ve ever experienced. The roads, scenery and challenge of every day left you wanting for more. – Gary W.

This was my third Lizard Head Tour, and it did not disappoint. The cycling was terrific, with well-planned routes, the lodging was first class, and the logistics well done as always. We are looking forward to our next Lizard Head trip! – Daniel S.

(W)hat really made the trip special for us was David, Paige and Joe! They worked so hard to make this trip fun and comfortable for all of us. The food was outstanding as well. Another big factor was the other riders in our group; it is always nice to meet other cyclists who share this crazy need to ride a bicycle up a mountain! I always come home from a ride like this feeling that there are more good people in this country than those who are not so good. – Michael and Sue

Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour: Dates

Potential tour dates are listed below and not all tour dates will run. Lock in your preferred tour date early as unopened tour dates will be closed. Please see the Spring/Autumn 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

To easily register for a particular tour, please click the Book Now! link after the tour date listed below. This will select the tour name and the appropriate date on the registration form.

2024 Tour Dates

  • July 7 to 12, 2024 (Book Now!) – TOUR A GO!

Tour Status Notes: NO STATUS = Date Set, no riders have signed up. TOUR OPENED = Tour Opened, rider minimums not met. TOUR A GO! = Tour is Go, rider minimums met. SOLD OUT = Tour Full, rider maximums met.

Why Should you Sign-Up Now and OPEN a Tour Date?
This is the proverbial chicken and the egg conundrum! We need our cyclists to first commit to the date that works for them so that we can commit to that date.

For starters, when you OPEN a date you get to pick your preferred departure date, and there is no penalty if the tour does not run. Once you pick your tour date, Lizard Head closes nearby dates and funnels all additional riders to your chosen date until the tour meets its 6 rider minimum.

BONUS: As an added bonus, we can also hold a spot for you on another tour date of your choosing. There is no fee to switch to another tour date.

In conclusion, if you want a tour to run, we need you to sign up and not wait for others to do the same! Waiting for others may mean that a tour date takes longer or does not confirm. Just Do It! Once a few riders jump into the proverbial waters, others will follow!

Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 6-Days Cycling/6-Nights Lodging

Location: San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado

Meeting & Ending Town/Airport: Montrose, Colorado (MTJ)

Meeting Hotel: On Day 1 cyclists meet the guides and support vehicle at 7:00am at the Hampton Inn in Montrose, Colorado.

Total Miles: 250 and up to 375 miles. Additional mileage options are available.

Average Standard Daily Mileage: 45 miles

Ability Level: Intermediate (2/3)  to Upper Intermediate (3) 
This tour is obtainable for the weekend cyclist who is comfortable on a bike & looking for a challenge.

Tour Cost: $3,520 per person with shared accommodations. Add $725 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (6-Nights). The higher cost is due to the room costs for Gateway Canyons Resort.

Tour Discounts: Please see our Reptile Rewards & Tour Discounts page to learn more about Reptile Rewards, Tour Discounts, and Group Discounts. Tour discounts are not stackable with any other discounts or promotions – only the highest valued discount is provided. Please note that for discounts to apply the tour minimum must be met.

Tour Includes: 6-Days guide service, 6-Nights lodging, most meals (5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners), entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments, in-tour shuttles, and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, bike rental, and massage (if available) are additional.

Non-Riding Spouses & Partners on Tour: If a non-riding spouse or partner would like to join you on tour and they have their own transportation, they can stay in your room for the cost of the tour's single room supplement. Please note that non-riders cannot check into hotels prior to guide arrival as the guides need to manage the check-in process. Checking in a large group can be challenging and take longer than normal, so non-riders need to hang back and be patient. Non-riding spouses and partners are welcome to join the Lizard Head meal plan which includes breakfasts and dinners for $75 per day. Note: Lunches are not included for non-riders driving their own vehicles due to the inherent variability of both lunch timing and locations. It is best for non-riders to plan to explore each day.

Lodging for 6-Nights: (subject to change and availability)

Meals On Tour

Lizard Head Cycling Guides provides most meals on all tours (unless otherwise noted) including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guides will prepare a daily lunch en route for nearly every tour, both road and off-road, as well as provide nutritious snacks at periodic aid stations during the day.

Most of our road tours utilize local restaurants for all meals and occasionally guides may prepare a dinner or two during a tour. Due to the nature of being "off the grid", most of our off-road tours feature guide prepared meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. FUN NOTE: When guides prepare a meal in camp and the guests sit around and watch, this is called "Guide TV". :)

We also pride ourselves on being able to cater to specific dietary requests and needs, so rest assured that you will be able to get the nutrition that works best for you during your tour. Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, or a someone who loves it all – we will keep you well fed during the tour!

Lunches: 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.

Dinners: On our road tours, Lizard Head Cycling sources our favorite restaurants in each town that we visit. Our guides focus on establishments that offer fresh and local ingredients and guests choose whatever they desire to eat off the menu including: appetizer, salad, entrée, 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.

Ability Level: Can I Ride This Tour?

Definition of Ability Levels

= Intermediate (2/3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 1 to 3 times a week for a total of 50 or more miles.
= Upper Intermediate (3) Rides and/or takes spin classes 2 to 4 times a week for a total of 75 or more miles.
= Advanced (3/4) Rides and/or takes spin classes 3 to 5 times a week for a total of 100 or more miles. Has ridden multi-day tours and done a century ride.
= Expert (4) Rides 4 or more times per week totaling 150 or more miles. Rides E.F.I. with regularity. Has done numerous multi-day tours, century rides and races.

How Fit do I Have to Be? If one month prior to the tour, you can ride 2 to 3 times a week equaling a total of 75 or more miles a week, you'll do just fine. We like to jokingly say that "one is ready for a Lizard Head Cycling Tour when they are finished with tour" and this is true! The only way to simulate a week long bike tour is to go on a week long tour.

Our average rider age is 55 years. These are bike tours, not races so we take our time to stop, take pictures and see the sights. We have all day to reach our destination and most riders take "bumps" at some points. We offer reduced mileage options for each day. Of course if someone wants to ride E.F.I. (Every Freaking Inch), we love to show them all the extra climbs, loops and hidden canyons that can be included!

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. This technique is similar to heliskiing in that one does not ski everything, they ski the best. 🙂

Slow or Fast? 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 relative to other cyclists. Speed does not matter as long as one is moving on the bike. As long as one is moving, they are truly going fast enough.

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.

Overall Route Map

Below is an example of the daily routes for this tour and are subject to change based on season, available accommodations, road closures, and other factors. The actual routes will be made available to registered participants before their tour, so please view these routes as a general outline as to what to expect.

Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado Bike Tour: Itinerary*

*PLEASE NOTE: Tour itineraries are subject to change and modification based on the group, available accommodations, road construction, road closures, and other unforeseen circumstances including weather, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, landslides and/or other acts of nature. Also, the distances and elevation profiles shown below may not reflect the actual distances and elevations while on tour as these are provided here to give an idea as to the anticipated mileage and terrain. Please view this itinerary, the distances, and elevation profiles as a general outline as to what to expect while on this tour.

Day 1: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
1st Segment: 23 miles with up to 2,340 feet of climbing
2nd Segment: 10 miles with 1,850 feet of descending

After a shuttle from Montrose, Colorado, our first ride of the tour takes us into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and one of Colorado’s finest bike rides. The route starts at 7,450-feet and soon enters the park offering views of steep cliffs with some of the oldest rock and the craggiest spires in North America.

After Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we shuttle to the top of Red Mountain Pass, get back on the bikes, and then enjoy a magnificent 10 mile descent along Million Dollar Highway to our first nights lodging in Silverton, Colorado.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

At the top of Red Mountain Pass

At the top of Red Mountain Pass

Silverton, Colorado

Silverton, Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP – Elevation Profile: +2340 ft / -3170 ft

Red Pass to Silverton – Elevation Profile: +60 ft / -1850 ft

Day 2: Silverton to Durango
52 miles with up to 3,300 feet of climbing

Starting from Silverton, we continue south along the San Juan Skyway and soon tackle two major alpine passes: Molas Pass at 10,915′ and Coal Bank Pass at 10,640′. After topping out on Molas Pass cyclists enjoy a net descent to Durango, Colorado (6,512’) of 4,000-feet! Durango is a lively western town with a historic narrow gauge railroad. Tonight’s lodging is the landmark Strater Hotel on Durango’s main street. The Strater’s Diamond Belle Saloon’s attractive bar room belles & old time piano player both adorned in 19th century period garb have proven to be a guest (and guide) favorite.

Riding under the San Juan mountains.

Riding under the San Juan mountains

Colorado Rocky Mountain High!

Colorado Rocky Mountain High!

Elevation Profile: +3300 ft / -6100 ft

Elevation Profile: +3300 ft / -6100 ft

Day 3: The Dunton Road to Telluride
45 miles with 3,700 feet of climbing, or 78 miles (EFI) with up to 5,765 feet of climbing

After enjoying a delicious breakfast and the good coffee that Durango offers, we shuttle northwest to ride the peaceful Dunton road. The Dunton road offers a quiet ride of 18 to 22- mile out and back along the Dunton river. At the halfway point we stop for a lunch along the river. After lunch we turn around and descend 9-miles back to the start.

From this point, if looking to ride EFI to Telluride, riders climb 1,300 in 25-miles to Rico, Colorado. If looking to ride less, this 25-miles can be shuttled.

From Rico, it is a fabulous 27-miles to Telluride with 2,000-feet of climbing over Lizard Head Cycling namesake Lizard Head Pass to Telluride for a two day stay.

The lizard is loose below Lizard Head Peak!

The lizard is loose below Lizard Head Peak!

Trout Lake near Lizard Head Pass

Trout Lake near Lizard Head Pass

Elevation Profile: 78 miles +5,765 feet / -4,390 feet

Day 4: Layover Day in Telluride
Optional 53-mile “Tour de Telluride”

Today cyclists enjoy a well deserved layover day in box canyon of Telluride, Colorado. This is the home town of Lizard Head Cycling Guides and in our humble opinion, the highlight town of our tour. Ride the free gondola to explore Mt. Village, enjoy a massage, shop the funky historic, hike to an alpine lake or district or simply sit on one of Telluride’s many park benches and watch the world go by.

Those looking to keep riding can opt to ride the “Tour de Telluride” which is a 53-mile on-your-own route around Telluride and up to Lizard Head peak and back.

Guests are on their own this evening to enjoy dinner from one of Telluride’s many fine dining establishments.

Colorado Bike Tour, Trout Lake

Trout Lake above Telluride

Colorado Bike Tour, Telluride Valley

Descending into the Telluride Valley

Tour de Telluride Elevation Profile: 53 mi +6790 ft / -6790 ft

Day 5: Telluride to Gateway
Options of 55-miles or 103-miles (with 6,000-feet of descending)

The longest mileage day on the tour, the Mountains to the Desert stage descends over 4,000-feet from Telluride (8,827′) to Gateway, Colorado at 4,550′ elevation! This is an inspiring ride through the intimate confines of the San Miguel and Dolores River Canyons. The Dolores river canyon has been called by previous Lizard Head Cycling guests as the “most beautiful ride ever”. Come see for yourself! We believe it is the most spectacular and least known road rides in Colorado.

Tonight’s lodging at the Gateway Canyons Resort has to be seen to be believed. It is another highlight of this fabulous tour. There are few places in the world that can provide an experience and location such Gateway Canyons Resort. John Hendricks of the Discovery Channel built the resort in 2005. His love of Redrock Canyon country has created a destination that guests of Lizard Head Cycling Guides adore. Read reviews from Gateway Canyons.

Colorado Bike Tour, Delores River

The Dolores River Canyon

Colorado Bike Tour, Palisade Butte

Beneath Palisade Butte in Gateway, Colorado

Colorado Bike Tour, Gateway Canyons Resort

Lodging for two nights at Gateway Canyons Resort

Norwood Hill – Highlighted below
Selected distance: 1.9 mi
Elevation: + 685 / – 0 ft
Max Grade: 13.7 %
Avg. Grade: 6.6 %
Cat: 3

Elevation Profile: 103 mi +2665 ft / -6890 ft

Day 6: Unaweep Canyon
Optional ride of 30 to 80-miles through Unaweep Canyon 

The final day of the our tour can be spent lounging poolside, enjoying the 21st luxury of Gateway Canyons Spa or pedaling up into the confines of yet another amazing geologic wonder, Unaweep Canyon. Whatever activity or inactivity you choose, enjoy this final day of the tour. Tonight’s lodging is once again at Gateway Canyons Resort.

Colorado Bike Tour, Unaweep Canyon

Ride into the beauty of Unaweep Canyon

Colorado Bike Tour, Gateway pool

The Pool at Gateway Canyons Resort

Gateway to Unaweep Divide – Highlighted below
Selected distance: 23.5 mi
Elevation: + 2824 / – 338 ft
Max Grade: 9.2 %
Avg. Grade: 2.0 %
Cat: HC

Elevation Profile: 47 mi +3160 ft / -3160 ft

Day 7: Departure Day

Early Saturday morning Lizard Head Cycling offers a shuttle for departing guests to the Montrose airport.  Make your departing plane reservations for 9:00am or later.

If guests are overcome by the raw beauty of Gateway Canyons Resort they may choose to extend their stay in Redrock Canyon Country.

Mountains-to-Rivers Colorado: Logistics & FAQs

Bike Shipping

Lizard Head Cycling recommends shipping with 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.

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.

Travel Insurance

If you have not already, now would be a great time to consider adding travel insurance to your tour. You are welcome to use any travel insurance company you would like. We recommend Generali/Trip Mate.

Generally, if contracting COVID causes clients to cancel or interrupt their tour, trip insurance companies would treat it as any other illness as long as it is contracted after the insurance was purchased. Please check your individual plan documentation for details. Please note that quarantine is usually only covered if clients are actually sick with COVID. If a state requires quarantine upon arrival because of standardized state law, coverage is generally not covered. Again, check your individual plan documentation for details.

American Guests - use this link:

  • The Premium Plan is the only plan which offers Pre-Existing coverage so long as the plan is purchased prior to Final Payment.
  • The Premium Plan is the only plan that offers an optional Cancel For Any Reason - the policy must be purchased within 24 hours of initial trip deposit, the full trip cost must be insured, and if they cancel for Any Reason, it must be 48 hours prior to departure, and the reimbursement for an Any Reason claim is 60% of pre-paid, insured, non-refundable trip cost.
  • Customer Service can be reached at 1-800-874-2442 for coverage questions and policy modifications or to purchase by phone. Agency Code: LIZA0855

Canadian Guests - use this link:

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