Hidden along the Utah-Colorado border east of the La Sals, lies a lonely landscape of towering red-rock cliffs, cougar prints, and ancient sea-bed plateaus. A river, born near Telluride, slices through these canyons. Its name is Dolores. The river and the landscape are ripe for adventure.
As with all rivers in the Southwest, the Dolores is a fickle and rare creature. Lusciously lined with willow and cottonwood, it is a small vein of green in a vast, dry landscape. Its flow is often too low to cover its rocky bottom, or too high for any but the most skilled hard shell experts to take on its torrent.
Luckily, our friend Brett Davis is part river. Having paddled all over the continent, sniffing out the best flows, he easily conjured up this bike-raft loop starting and ending at Onion Creek on the Colorado. We could bike up into the La Sals from there, and then ride the super saline waters of the Dolores back into the huge Colorado River, and back to our truck.
Originally, rafts would be carried on bikes and bikes on rafts, but our friends Sam and Natalie decided to come in at the river section and motorbike back up to get our bikes. It worked perfectly, so we only had to carry what we needed for each section. Sweet.
So off we went biking part of the Kokopelli Trail, and into the forest high above the banks of the Colorado. Then back down the river.
|The route in Full: 94 miles, 50 riding, 44 paddling.|
3 days: 1.5 riding, 1.5 paddling
|Brett was our alarm clock for a 5am wake-up at Onion Creek Campground along the Colorado River.|
|On the trail by 6:30 to beat the heat.|
|Heading to Onion Creek Road along the highway.|
|Crossing Onion Creek many times, the scenery was awesome|
|The Totem Pole and other feature are certainly unique in the world.|
|Brett is a Salsa Cycles rider, and for good reason: he's a beast (just like his Mukluk).|
|Once up out of the Onion Creek drainage things got less sandy, and the views were sweet.|
|View of the La Sals were awesome as well, and by mile 20 things were cooling off.|
|Finally, after 30 miles of up and 5800ft of gain, we found ourselves at Hidden Lake, our camp for the night.|
|Morning came quickly, and we were riding by 7am. Now for a 4500ft downhill, after some more ups.|
|Brett loaded down to train for his big trip coming up. Yes, he's going international of course.|
|Down into John Brown Canyon. This downhill was fast and amazingly gorgeous.|
|Coming into Gateway Colorado, our put-in for the river.|
|Pavement, after 50 miles of riding.|
|Sam and Natalie join in the fun and we transition to river time.|
|Sarah and the Diversion Rapid|
|Brett heading into the Stateline Rapid.|
|Sam and Nat enjoying their Alpacka!!|
|Boulders make this one a fun one to river scout.|
|Evening canyon hiking is one of the post-margarita joys of river life.|
|Brett doing his thing.|
|Nearing the Colorado River after 30 miles on the Dolores.|
|Brett enjoying the big water and big cliffs of the Colorado.|
|After MASSIVE 40-50mph headwinds, we finally made it back to the put-in, to complete the loop.|