2022 Route Overview
The 36th annual Ride the Rockies is a challenging point-to-point affair featuring two 100-plus-mile days, four trips above 11,000 feet, five Continental Divide crossings, and an historic first time spin through Glenwood Canyon along the banks of the Colorado River. The 2022 event, which runs June 11-17, starts at Copper Mountain and ends along Colorado’s Front Range in Golden.
In between, riders will pedal 436 miles and climb more than 27,000 feet with overnights in Glenwood Springs, Basalt, Salida, and two nights in Breckenridge. This year’s marquee climbs include Tennessee, Freemont, Independence, Hoosier, and Loveland passes. Plus there’s an optional ascent of Ute Pass on Day 5 that if tackled bumps total event mileage to 476 miles and increases total climbing to just under 30,000 feet.
During—and between—those grueling ascents is a non-stop barrage of postcard worthy scenery. Indeed, this year’s route serves up panoramic views of towering Mount Elbert, traverses the majestic Red Cliff Arch Bridge, spins up the tranquil Roaring Fork Valley, traces the shores of the Arkansas River, rolls past the majestic Ten Mile Range, circles Dillon Reservoir, and much more. Add it all up and this will truly be the bike riding adventure of a lifetime. Here’s a day-by-day breakdown.
- Saturday, June 11
- Copper Triangle: 80 miles/6,464’ approximate elevation gain
- Highlights: Vail Pass, Red Cliff Arch Bridge, 10th Mountain Division Memorial, Tennessee Pass, Freemont Pass
Among the most iconic cycling loops in Colorado, the famed Copper Triangle has a little bit of everything—especially climbing. With nearly 6,500 feet of total elevation gain (nearly all of it above 8,000 feet) this is a true climber’s delight. The Ride the Rockies Prologue is a counterclockwise affair that starts with the gradual ascent of Vail Pass. And while Interstate 70 is the main route up and over, cyclists are far removed from traffic, instead spinning along the bike path situated between the east and westbound lanes.
Once to the summit (elevation 10,662 feet), you’ll enjoy a rapid descent to the town of Vail, then continue mostly downhill through the famed ski town before turning south onto US24 to begin the second leg of the triangle. Soon after the route passes through Minturn, then crosses the stunning Red Cliff Arch Bridge perched high above the Eagle River. From there it’s nearly all uphill to the intersection of CO91 just north of Leadville, the country’s highest incorporated city at 10,152 feet. Along the way you’ll pass the 10th Mountain Division Memorial and ascend Tennessee Pass (summit elevation 10,423).
Finally, the route turns north for the final leg back to Copper Mountain. Initially the road is flat before turning skyward once more for the ascent of Freemont Pass, which marks the day’s high point at 11,319 feet. Up top you’ll pass the massive Climax Mine, then tackle a handful of gentle rollers, before the road drops away for the rapid descent to the finish.
- Sunday, June 12
- Copper Mountain to Glenwood Springs: 110 Miles/4,361’ approximate elevation gain
- Highlights: Freemont Pass, Tennessee Pass, Red Cliff Arch Bridge, Glenwood Canyon
The 2022 Ride the Rockies starts with a bang, serving up more than 100 miles of saddle time and rolling through stunning Glenwood Canyon, a first for this long running event. Before that leisurely spin along the Colorado River, riders must tackle the first two legs of the famed Copper Triangle. From the start at Copper Mountain, climbing begins almost immediately with the gradual ascent of Freemont Pass, the day’s high point at 11,319 feet. Once over the top, the route trends downhill for about a dozen miles, as you roll along the East Fork of the Arkansas River before turning right just outside Leadville. This marks the start of the second leg of the triangle, which features views of Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak at 14,440 feet.
Next up is the Tennessee Pass climb, which crosses the Continental Divide and passes a memorial to the U.S. Army’s famed 10th Mountain Division, which trained in the area, then fought in Italy during World War II. That’s followed by a gradual descent, as you head to the base of Battle Mountain. Along the way the route crosses the majestic Red Cliff Arch Bridge before intersecting with I-70.
Here the route diverges from the Copper Triangle loop, instead heading west. This final 58-mile stretch parallels the interstate, utilizing a mix of bike paths and frontage roads while passing through Avon, Edwards and Eagle, before entering spectacular Glenwood Canyon at mile 94. The final 16 miles offer an up close look at one of the country’s most celebrated stretches of highway, an engineering marvel that took 13 years to build and cost nearly a half billion dollars. It’s a surreal juxtaposition of natural beauty and a massive construction project that included 300 workers and over a million tons of steel and concrete. At the finish in Glenwood Springs enjoy a well-earned adult beverage, then grab a soak in the soothing hot water the town is famed for.
- Monday, June 13
- Glenwood Springs to Basalt: 31 Miles/2,926’ approximate elevation gain
- Highlights: Roaring Fork River, Rio Grande Trail, Mount Sopris
Following Day 1’s more-than-a-century ride, the peloton gets something of a rest day. The route kicks off on the Rio Grande Trail bike path, which runs along the Roaring Fork River all the way to Aspen. But no Ride the Rockies day would be compete without a little climbing, so riders will leave the bike path around mile 7, then head up some of the area’s best road cycling terrain along the north side of the valley.
There you’ll enjoy minimal traffic, twisting tarmac, amazing mountain views, and just enough uphill pedaling to keep you honest. At mile 26, the route passes through the small bedroom community of El Jebel, crosses CO82, and then rejoins the Rio Grande Trail for the final push to the finish in Basalt.
- Tuesday, June 14
- Basalt to Salida: 107 Miles/7,140’ approximate elevation gain
- Highlights: Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen, Independence Pass, Twin Lakes, Arkansas River Valley
Rest well in Basalt because today it’s time for another more-than-a-century ride, and this one includes the brutal—and breathtaking—ascent of Independence Pass. After a mostly mellow 20-mile spin from Basalt to Aspen along the Roaring Fork River, it’s climb time—and this one is truly a beast. Indeed, the hors categorie west side ascent of Independence Pass is among Colorado’s toughest. From the outskirts of Aspen it’s 18 miles and more than 4,000 vertical feet to the skyscraping summit, situated at a lung searing 12,095 feet, the highest point of this year’s Ride the Rockies.
Up top snap another Continental Divide sign photo, hydrate and refuel, then buckle up for the rollicking descent down the east side of the pass, which drops more than 3,000 feet on the way past Twin Lakes and on to US24. The rest of the day’s route is mostly flat or gently downhill, as you trace the shores of the Arkansas River on your way to Buena Vista and on to the finish in Salida. Just know that the wind often whips in this high valley, so plan to pace yourself accordingly for this is a seriously big day on the bike.
- Wednesday, June 15
- Salida to Breckenridge: 79 miles/6,013’ approximate elevation gain
- Highlights: Collegiate Peaks, Arkansas River, South Park, Hoosier Pass, Ten Mile Range
After reaching its southernmost point on Day 3, the 2022 Ride the Rockies marches back northward (and ever upward) during another tough day in the saddle. Following 21 miles of route retracing along the Arkansas River, the route follows US285 up Trout Creek Pass and on into South Park, a sprawling flat grassland between the Mosquito and Park mountain ranges and namesake for the long running animated comedy show.
While the climbing is generally gentle, it’s a long grind that’s often buffeted by a headwind. At mile 56 in Fairplay, the route turns onto CO9 toward the finish in Breckenridge. But before reaching the famed Colorado ski town riders must deal with Hoosier Pass, summit elevation 11,542 feet. Fortunately, this climb’s grade is gradual so you can sit and spin without loading up the legs. Once over the top around mile 68, it’s nearly all downhill, as you roll along the east side of the majestic Ten Mile Range onward to the day’s finish.
- Thursday, June 16
- Breckenridge to Breckenridge: 31 Miles/1,512’ approximate elevation gain — or 71 miles/3984’ with Ute Pass option
- Highlights: Ten Mile Range, Blue River, Dillon Reservoir, Summit County Rec Path System
Following back-to-back big days on the bike, the 2022 Ride the Rockies route takes a proverbial breather with this mostly mellow, 31-mile spin that starts and finishes in Breckenridge. The day starts with an easy roll along the Blue River bike path, which traces the river’s shoreline as you head north toward Dillon Reservoir. Around mile 6, with the massive mountains of the Ten Mile Range towering to your left, this major water source for the city of Denver comes into full view and will be your constant companion for most of the next 18 miles.
The day’s lone climb of significance commences around mile 19, as the route ascends tree-lined Swan Mountain Road, which gains roughly 500 feet in 2.5 gradually uphill miles. Up top enjoy panoramic mountain views from Sapphire Point Overlook, then zip back down to the Blue River bike path, where the route rolls gently uphill to the finish in Breckenridge. And because you finish where you started, you get the luxury of sleeping in the same hotel bed or tent location two nights in a row.
For those seeking some extra credit, Day 5 includes the optional climb of Ute Pass Road. This out-and-back segment adds 40 miles and nearly 2,500 feet of climbing. The rewards are spectacular views of the Gore Range and Eagles Nest Wilderness and the satisfaction of riding over 70 miles for the third day in a row. If you choose to take on this challenge, you’ll follow the main route for the first 15 miles, then turn north, spin through the town of Silverthorne, and then head up CO9 to Ute Pass Road. From that turn it’s 5.3 miles to the turnaround point at the Ute Pass Trailhead. Along the way you’ll gain about 1,400 feet, topping out around 9,600 feet. From there, the route returns to CO9 before rejoining the main route for the final 18 miles.
- Friday, June 17
- Breckenridge to Golden: 78 Miles/5,447’ approximate elevation gain
- Highlights: Dillon Reservoir, Loveland Pass, Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Floyd Hill
The final day of the 2022 Ride the Rockies is a true showcase of all that Colorado cycling has to offer. During the 78-mile downhill trending trek, the route passes four ski areas, ascends the nearly 12,000-foot-high Loveland Pass, and rolls through the popular tourist towns of Georgetown and Idaho Springs before arriving at the final finish line in Golden. Along the way, riders will climb nearly 5,500 feet, though fortunately most of that uphill pedaling comes during the day’s first 25 miles.
Following an easy spin on the Blue River bike path (with the Breckenridge Ski Resort on your left) the route heads up and over Swan Mountain Road, before joining US6 for the steady ascent of Loveland Pass. Along the way you’ll pass the Keystone and Arapahoe Basin ski areas, then top out at the second highest point of this year’s ride (11,991 feet) for the last of five Continental Divide crossings. From here it’s nearly all downhill to Golden, which sits 6,000 feet below the Loveland Pass summit.
The initial descent offers a chance to soak in more amazing Rocky Mountain scenery, as you plunge toward the base of the Loveland Ski area, then merge onto the frontage road that parallels I-70. Now sit back and enjoy a mostly downhill spin all the way to the outskirts of Denver. Just remember to save a little energy for the short but steep Floyd Hill climb around mile 58—and the post-event party in downtown Golden.
Daily Route Schedule
Please remember to note the opening and closing schedule of each day’s route. Ride the Rockies will provide complete route support only during the posted schedule. If you choose to leave before the route opens, please understand that we cannot guarantee there will be support for you on the route. That means no bike techs, SAG vehicles, medical support or aid stations. Route support is only provided during the posted schedule. Also note that daily route closings are based on a cyclist leaving at the latest scheduled route opening time and traveling an average of 10mph. Thus it is very important that you track your progress during the day. Do not spend too much time at aid stations or viewing areas if you feel you might not make it. Thanks and have a great ride.