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Destination: Salida, Colorado

I got a call from a friend in Salida, a small town on the other side of the Continental Divide from the Gunnison Valley, on New Year’s Eve, the final day of 2011. “The Salida mountain bike crew is coming over to ride in Gunnison, do you want to come ride?”

This request was bizarre but possible because of the wonky winter weather, or lack thereof, that we had been having in Colorado. Normally, the Gunnison trails are hidden deep below the snow by this time of year and it’s the mountain bikers in Gunnison calling Salida to check the status of their trails.

Upon arrival, the dozen riders from Salida shot up the hill like caged animals finally set free, only pausing long enough to lament the snow on their normally dry trails and ice on their sidewalks. Three weeks later, roles had changed as the Gunnison Valley sat under a layer of snow and Salida riders were putting in miles on their trail networks that leave directly from town.

Nestled in the Arkansas Valley in central Colorado, the small town of Salida boasts an impressive number of trails (with more being built yearly by Salida Mountain Trails) and is a perfect start and end point for a shuttled ride of the famed Monarch Crest Trail.

Located on the bank of the Arkansas River and at the base of several 14ers in the Collegiate Mountain Range, the town is obsessed with outdoor recreation ranging from boating to mountain biking to hiking. Blended with an appreciation for art and coffee shops with live music on a regular basis, the town offers more than just outdoor recreational opportunities. With plans of transforming the area into a mountain bike Mecca, Salida Mountain Trails has worked tirelessly to build new trails in the area with results such as the new North Backbone trail off of S-Mountain and the Little Rainbow Trail south of town.

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