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

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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 ancient ruins, deserted mining towns, national parks and some of the best scenery in America and along the way we pass through the towns of Durango, Mancos, Dolores, Stoner, Rico, Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray and Silverton.

The San Juan Skyway is literally in Lizard Head Cycling’s backyard as our mountain headquarters are located in Ophir, Colorado which we will pass during our tour and it is also home to Lizard Head Peak from which we get our name. 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: 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

2021 Tour Dates

San Juan Skyway Bike Tour: Overview

Click Here for the San Juan Skyway 4 Day Bike Tour Info PDF Flyer

Reptile Rewards

Tour Length: 4-Day (4 days/3 nights); a 3-Day Option (3 days/2 nights) is available as a CUSTOM option, please inquire.

Starting and Ending Town/Airport: Montrose, Colorado/Montrose Regional Airport (MTJ)

Meeting Hotel: Hampton Inn Montrose (not included in tour cost)

Total Miles: 190-233 miles (Can I keep up on this tour?)

Mileage Range: 24 to 110 miles

Tour Cost: $1,395 per person. Since already discounted, additional discounts are not available for the San Juan Skyway Tour. Please see our Tour Discounts Policy.

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

Tour Includes: 3 nights of exceptional lodging, 4 days of meals, guide service, shuttle to and from Montrose Regional Airport, entrance fees, daily lunch en route, energy food, liquid refreshments and mechanical support. Alcoholic beverages, massage and bike rental are additional.

Single Room Supplement: Add $325 per person to the Tour Cost for a private room each night of the tour. If one chooses a shared room and no same sex partner is available before the start of the tour, then the cost is reduced to $165.

Lodging for 3 Nights: (subject to change and availability)

Bike Rental

In 2020 Lizard Head Cycling is renting a fleet of Scott Addict 10 carbon road bikes for only $250/week. The Scott Addict offer full carbon frames, Shimano Ultegra components, 34x32 low gearing, 32mm tires, and disc brakes. Altogether, the Scott Addict provides a smooth and comfortable ride for our guests. Rental bikes include pump, tools, and spare tubes.

NOTE: Bike rental can be limited so please reserve in advance.

For more information, please email or call 970.728.5891

Take your bike home! Click here for more information.

Read a Review on the SCOTT Addict 10

Electric Bike Rental (E-Bikes): 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.

Please also see this blog post for more information on bike rentals.

Tandems and Recumbents: Lizard Head Cycling Guides happily accommodates both tandem and recumbent bikes on its tours.

Read more on our Road Bike Rental FAQs page.

Meals On 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. 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!

Dinners: 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.

Overall Route Map

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 equalling 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*

*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 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 Airline,s 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 is the Hampton Inn Montrose (not included in tour cost) which offers complimentary shuttle service to and from Montrose Regional Airport.

Day 1: Ouray to Silverton
24 miles with up to 3,400 feet of climbing

After an early morning meet and greet and the loading of the support vehicle, we embark on a short shuttle from the meeting hotel in Montrose to Ouray, Colorado. From here the riding begins with cyclists challenging Red Mountain Pass which is considered the most stunning road bike climb in all of Colorado. After the 13 mile climb to the summit, it’s an all downhill 11 mile ride 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
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: Durango to Telluride
65 or 110 miles with up to 4,800 or 8,200 feet of climbing

This is the day for a century ride! Riders can choose either a full century ride of 110 miles with a point-to-point ride from Durango to Telluride, or opt for a metric century ride of 65 miles after a short 45 mile shuttle from Durango to the small town of the Dolores, Colorado. Both routes follow along the Rio Dolores from Dolores to Telluride, Colorado eventually making it to our namesake Lizard Head Peak and Lizard Head Pass. Then from Lizard Head Pass it is a 24 mile net descent to Telluride, Colorado for a well deserved beer at the 120-year-old New Sheridan Saloon.

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: 65 mi +4800 ft / -2900 ft

Elevation Profile: 65 mi +4800 ft / -2900 ft

Elevation Profile: 110 mi +8100 ft / -5900 ft

Elevation Profile: 110 mi +8100 ft / -5900 ft

Day 4: Telluride to Ridgway
40 miles with up to 2,000 feet of climbing

Starting from downtown Telluride, our short ride takes us along the rustic Last Dollar Road over Dallas Divide and then ends in the small town of Ridgway with a hearty post-ride meal at Taco Del Gnar. From here it is a quick shuttle back to Montrose to end our tour.

The Dallas Divide rises above Last Dollar Road

The Dallas Divide rises above Last Dollar Road

The San Juan Mountains viewed from Ridgeway

The San Juan Mountains viewed from Ridgway

Elevation Profile: +1900 ft / -3700 ft

Elevation Profile: +2000 ft / -3700 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

Lizard Head Cycling Guides highly recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through TripAssure. A policy can be purchased individually through the sales link below or Lizard Head Cycling Guides can also set-up a policy for its clients.

The estimated cost for a 50-year old buying insurance for a $2,500 tour ranges from $100 (standard plan) to about $200 (cancel for any reason plan).

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Custom Sales Portal Link is:

  • The best options for our clients are either the Asset or Bridge plans.
  • The Asset-Plus & Complete plans both include a Cancel-For-Any-Reason option.
    • As a result these plans cost more.
    • The Cancel-for-Any-Reason option is only available when insurance is purchased within two weeks of initial deposit.
  • For information on Coronavirus, please click here.

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