San Juan Skyway Bike Tour - Lizard Head Cycling Guides
107 Aurum St, Box 855, Ophir, CO 81426 970.728.5891

San Juan Skyway Bike Tour

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

San Juan Skyway Bike Tour: Highlights

The San Juan Skyway, a designated All-American Road, is a 233-mile incredibly scenic loop through the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. This area is full of mountain roads, historic mining towns, wildlife, ancestral plant communities and some of the best alpine scenery in America. The San Juan Skyway passes through the towns of Ouray, Silverton, Durango, Mancos, Dolores, Stoner, Rico, Telluride, and ends in the amazing Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park.

The San Juan Skyway is in Lizard Head Cycling’s backyard and rides over our namesake pass, Lizard Head Pass, and near our mountain headquarters in Ophir, Colorado. On this tour we share with our guests the quiet nooks and crannies of road riding in the San Juans while providing seamless mileage options based on traffic conditions, weather, and client ability.

The San Juan Skyway is a great introduction to our Colorado Bicycle Tours.

Double rainbow in Colorado back country

Welcome to Lizard Head Peak!

Welcome to Lizard Head Peak!

On the way to Silverton

On the way to Silverton

Downtown Telluride, Colorado

Downtown Telluride, Colorado

San Juan Skyway Bike Tour: Testimonials

Read what previous guests on our San Juan Skyway Bike tour have been saying…

Thanks for an A+ experience. I appreciate your willingness to be flexible during the planning. It made a huge difference as did having the best guides of the bunch. Everyone had a great time and felt safe and encouraged by Deanne and Dave who took such great care, went the extra nine yards and consistently showed their professionalism every step of the way. I am grateful to you and the whole Lizard Head team. – David

I connected with Evan and Zach … even though I’m twice their ages. Both did an outstanding job and were great fun to be around. Zach and Evan did a great job at keeping us as dry as possible, starting rides reasonably early so (we) were done before the afternoon showers. My favorite ride/day on this tour was day 4. For me, the views and riding experience … were the best. In all, I had a great time and I’m glad I rode this tour. Thanks to the entire Lizard Head Cycling Guides team for a terrific experience. – Scott

We rode the July tour this year and had an excellent time. The guides, the food & lodging were all great. Having a masseuse along was an added bonus. Looking forward to our next trip. – John

Thank you for providing a great tour for me and my friends. Dave and Eli were great as was Amber. The hotels were very nice and the food prepared on the road was just what we needed. Dinners were also very good. The scenery was beautiful … thanks for a great tour, my second with Lizard Head. Never thought I’d be doing this when I was 70 years old! – Mark B

San Juan Skyway 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 11, 2024 (Book Now!)
  • July 14 to 18, 2024 (Book Now!)
  • July 29 to August 2, 2024 Monday to Friday (Book Now!)TOUR OPENED
  • September 16 to 20, 2024 Fall Foliage Spectacular! (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!

San Juan Skyway Bike Tour: Overview

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 5-Day (5-days/4-nights)
NOTE: Either a 4-Day (4-days/3-nights) or a 3-Day (3-days/2-nights) version is available as a custom tour option, please contact us.

Meeting & Ending Town: Montrose or Ridgway, Colorado. Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ)

Total Miles: 150 to 225 miles (Every Freaking Inch: EFI)  (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Ability Levels: Upper Intermediate (3) , Advanced (3/4) , Expert (4)

5-Day Tour Cost: $2,725 per person with shared accommodations. Add $595 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (includes 4-Nights)

4-Day Tour Cost: $2,015 per person with shared accommodations. Add $395 per person to this Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour (3-Nights).

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.

5-Day Tour Includes: 5-Days guide service, 4-Nights lodging, 2 dinners, 4 lunches, 3 breakfasts, in-tour shuttles, entrance fees, energy food, liquid refreshments, and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, bike rental, and massage (if available) are additional.

4-Day Tour Includes: 4-Days guide service, 3-Nights lodging, 2 dinners, 4 lunches, 3 breakfasts, in-tour shuttles, entrance fees, energy food, liquid refreshments, 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.

The 5-Day Tour Includes Lodging for 4 Nights: (subject to change)

The 4-Day Tour Includes Lodging for 3 Nights: (subject to change)

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.

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.

4-Day Tour

5-Day Tour

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.

San Juan Skyway 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 0: Arrival in Montrose, Colorado

Downtown Montrose, Colorado

Downtown Montrose, Colorado

Guests either fly into Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ) which is serviced by American Airlines, Allegiant Air, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines, or guests can drive to Montrose, Colorado and leave their car at the meeting hotel during the tour. The designated meeting hotel (not included in tour cost) offers complimentary shuttle service to and from Montrose Regional Airport.

Day 1: Ouray to Silverton
15 or 24 miles with up to 3,200 feet of climbing

After the morning meet and greet, we embark on a short shuttle from the meeting hotel in Montrose to Ouray, Colorado. From here the riding begins with a climb of Red Mountain Pass which is considered one of the most stunning road bike climbs in all of Colorado. If one is looking for an easier option, we can shuttle you the first 8-miles and 1,800-feet to Ironton Park.

After the climb to the Red Mountains summit, it’s an all downhill for 11 miles to our accommodations in the old west mining town of Silverton, Colorado.

At the top of Red Mountain Pass

At the top of Red Mountain Pass

Silverton, Colorado

Silverton, Colorado

Elevation Profile: +3400 ft / -1900 ft

Elevation Profile: +3400 ft / -1900 ft

Day 2: Silverton to Durango
35 or 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! If looking to reduce the climbing on this day, we can shuttle you to the top of Coal Bank pass, the first pass.

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 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.

Downtown Durango, Colorado

Galloping Goose Historical Society in Dolores

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

Day 4: Layover Day in Telluride
Optional 10 to 25 miles of riding 

On this layover day, guests are on their own to enjoy Telluride. Engage the thrilling Via Ferrata, ride the free gondola, hike to an alpine tarn and quaf a well deserved beer at the 120-year-old New Sheridan Saloon. This is your day to chose. Tonight we enjoy a delicious dinner at one of Telluride’s best restaurants.

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

Standard Elevation Profile: 65 mi +4900 ft / -3080 ft

E.F.I. Elevation Profile: 91 mi +6325 ft / -4510 ft

Day 5: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Standard: 23 miles with up to 2,340 feet of climbing
E.F.I. Option: 35 miles with up to 4,300 feet of climbing

After a morning shuttle from downtown Telluride, the final ride 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. From here we ascend to an awe-inspiring rim top view of the Black Canyon’s 2,000-foot sheer drop to the Gunnison River. The ride then descends out of the Black Canyon an ends just before CO-50. From here it is a quick shuttle back to Montrose to end our tour.

Colorado Bike Tour Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

View from East Portal Road: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Colorado Bike Tour, Black Canyon

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Elevation Profile: 23 mi +2340 ft / -3170 ft

San Juan Skyway Bike Tour: 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.

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 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.

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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