Guidebook

The Best Gravel Biking Routes in the Arkansas Valley

Pedal endless gravel roads with majestic views of soaring mountain peaks!

Description

The Arkansas Valley serves as a crossroads for several of Colorado’s largest non-interstate highways. But aside from the major highways that bisect the valley north and south and east and west, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many paved roads here. If you head out the door for a road ride, you’ll invariably find yourself leaving the pavement and venturing down a dirt road that only gets rougher and rougher as you go on.

So why fight it? Instead, grab a wider-tired drop bar bike and get ready to crush some gravel!

While a few key rides venture into the mountains to the west or lie on the valley floor, for the most part, the best gravel riding in the region is found in the Arkansas Hills on the eastern side of the valley. Generally speaking, as you head west into the massive Sawatch range, the roads get brutally rocky and technical—so technical that many are not passable on a gravel bike, and instead require a full-blown mountain bike.

Not so in the Arkansas Hills. Here, you’ll find endless miles of flowing gravel roads with stunning views in all directions! Some of the climbs are still quite long and steep, but with the wide variety of routes presented in this guidebook, you can easily find the perfect ride to match your desired route length and difficulty level.

Aspen Ridge Point-to-Point
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Aspen Ridge Point-to-Point

Salida
69.6 km
1,423 m
1,700 m
Pedal through a massive aspen grove on the side of a beautiful ridge.
Severe
Private
Firebox Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Firebox Loop

Salida
114.9 km
1,991 m
1,991 m
A gorgeous, challenging gravel loop from downtown Salida.
Difficult
Private
Castle Rock Gulch
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Castle Rock Gulch

Buena Vista
23.7 km
303 m
303 m
A perfect 15-mile scenic “lollipop” loop ride.
Easy
Private
Cottonwood Lake
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Cottonwood Lake

Buena Vista
43.1 km
681 m
681 m
A gorgeous mountain gravel ride right out of town.
Moderate
Private
Vitamin B Gravel Grinder
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Vitamin B Gravel Grinder

Buena Vista
35.4 km
736 m
735 m
A gravel ride through iconic “spaghetti western” terrain.
Moderate
Private
St. Elmo
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

St. Elmo

Buena Vista
67.1 km
1,008 m
1,007 m
A mountain tour that's part road ride, part gravel grinder.
Moderate
Private
River Road
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

River Road

Salida
33.9 km
294 m
294 m
A beautiful riverside pedal on an old railroad grade, complete with tunnels!
Easy
Private
Turret Ghost Town Out-and-Back
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Turret Ghost Town Out-and-Back

Salida
41.9 km
1,046 m
1,046 m
A scenic out-and-back ride to a little-visited ghost town.
Moderate
Private
Guffey Huffer
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Guffey Huffer

Salida
203.8 km
3,222 m
3,222 m
A challenging 200km double loop through the Arkansas Hills region.
Difficult
Private