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Rocky Top Road Trip

A Southern Colorado loop where you can rough it in a yurt and throw one back in Durango.

Hit up Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America, located in Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park. (Photo: Sue Anne Hodges/Tandem)

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Bomb down epic singletrack, play in Class IV whitewater, and take in Colorado’s famous 14,000-foot vistas on this 500-mile multisport tour of a lifetime.

Packing List: Your entire gear closet, a big roof box, a GoPro

Highlights: Start this odyssey by playing in the four brand-new features in downtown Durango’s Animas River Whitewater Park. Then head east to soak away shoulder burn in Pagosa Springs’ 22 pools (from $25) and cool off with a Skallywag pale ale at Riff Raff Brewing Company.

Near 10,857-foot Wolf Creek Pass, take a mile-long hike to the Pass Creek Yurt, which sleeps six, comes stocked with firewood, and is the ideal base camp for hiking and mountain-biking the Continental Divide 
Trail ($139 per night). At Great Sand Dunes National Park ($3 entry), rent a sandboard to descend 750-foot Star Dune ($18), then go north to Salida to raft 20 miles of Class III-plus through Browns Canyon ($86; noahsark.com). Crash at the three-bedroom cabin at Creekside Hot Springs in nearby Nathrop, which has a private pool next to Chalk Creek (from $295).

pass-creek-yurt
(Photo: jeff medaugh/Flickr)

In bike-crazy Gunnison, try some of the 44 miles of singletrack trails in the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, then stay at Three Rivers Resort, where you can rent a cabin or lodge room and step outside the door to cast a fly in the world-class Taylor River for trophy brown, rainbow, or cutthroat trout (from $65).

Wrap up the trip by heading south from Montrose 
on Highway 550 for a jolt of Rocky Mountain highs at 11,099-foot Red Mountain Pass before coasting back through the San Juans to hit all five craft breweries 
in Durango. Bed down at the Strater Hotel, a four-story Victorian built in 1887 (from $192).

rocky-top-map
The route.

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From Outside Magazine, Jul 2014
Filed To: Water ActivitiesBikingClimbingRunningHiking and BackpackingRoad TripsColorado
Lead Photo: Sue Anne Hodges/Tandem
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