Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route

The Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route is a scenic ride across the state of Colorado, beginning in Four Corners and finishing at the Wyoming Border. The route has been created specifically for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists who are interested in exploring Colorado’s majestic high-mountain ranges and historic mining country.

This 675-mile south-to-north route utilizes many remote and high-elevation dirt roads and leads riders through a number of iconic locations including Telluride, San Juan Mountains, Continental Divide, Collegiate Range, Northern Rocky Mountains and historic Leadville, along the Colorado River.

The COBDR feature-length documentary DVD produced by Noren Films and the accompaniying Butler Motorcycle Map were released in 2013.  Free GPS tracks of the route are available for download by following the 'Download GPS Tracks' link on the right.

“I’m really excited to release the latest installment in the Backcountry Discovery Route series, the COBDR. It was a wonderful motorcycle expedition and I think we’ve created a classic adventure ride. Viewers of the film will get a taste of what awaits them in Colorado – spectacular scenery, historic mining towns and exhilarating adventure riding on what is arguably one of the best rides in the country.“ – Sterling Noren, Producer, Noren Films

The expedition team included Backcountry Discovery Route board members named above, as well as journalist Tony Huegel, photographer Jonathan Beck and KLIM’s Jayson Wickencamp. 

For ride reports, route updates, and to join or organize BDR rides, please visit the COBDR thread on www.ADVrider.com and the Americas thread on www.advrider.com

 

COBDR

CLOSE MAP

Sec 1 Four Corners to Telluride

The official start of the COBDR begins at the Four Corners Monument where the borders of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado converge. This is Tribal land so backcountry travel is very limited. The official BDR track follows paved roads to the small town of Dolores before peeling off onto the dirt. Riders can fill up with fuel there before heading north on a mix of narrow two track and wide graded roads on the way toward Groundhog Reservoir. There is a small convenience store at the reservoir for drinks and snacks. While the official route takes off on a dirt road just before the town of Telluride, consider riding through the historic downtown and up to Bridal Veil Falls. Highlights: Four Corners Monument, San Miguel Mt Range, Bridal Veil Falls, Downtown Telluride Lodging:Cortez, Telluride

Sec 2 Telluride to Lake City

Section 2 brings riders through the heart of Southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Dramatic passes, ghost towns and one of a kind vistas make this section a highlight of the trip. The first riding challenge comes on Ophir Pass, just outside Telluride. This is a rocky road with tight switchbacks that require a slow and methodical pace. At Highway 550, riders will have several miles of pavement before heading east on rugged backroads toward Lake City over several high altitude passes. The charming town of Ouray is several miles off route, but is worth the detour especially if you’re looking for a real bed and a warm meal. The ride from Ouray to Lake City covers incredible terrain over Corkscrew Pass, California Pass, and Cinnamon Pass. Expect to take the better part of a day to explore this area. There will more than enough excuses to stop for a photo and wander around historic mining towns. Highlights: Ophir Pass, Downtown Ouray, ghost towns including Animas Forks, numerous high passes. Camping: Primitive camping at base of Corkscrew Pass just off of Hwy 550 as well as near Lake City. There is also a state campground with services along Lake San Cristobal. Lodging: Ouray, Lake City

Gas to Telluride

Fuel available in Telluride

Gas to Ouray

Fuel available in Ouray

Alt Sec 3 Easy Ouray to Lake City

Alternative route - easy bypass.

Sec 3 Lake City to Buena Vista

Section 3 is a much different riding experience than the first two sections. The roads are wider and faster, allowing for quick miles between fuel stops in Lake City and Taylor Park. For those looking to camp, primitive but beautiful spots can be found nearLos Pinos Pass. The small mining towns of TinCup & Pitkin are worth a stop and offer a few choices for food and supplies. If fuel range is an issue, fill up in Taylor Park before heading over Cottonwood Pass. A few small water crossings make the route interesting before hitting the well-traveled oiled and blacktop surface of Cottonwood Pass. Buena Vista is one of the larger towns along the COBDR with plenty of places to eat and sleep. Highlights: Pitkin, Tincup, Cumberland Pass, Cottonwood Pass, Moose and other wildlife on Los Pinos Pass, Water Crossings

Gas to Lake City

Gas available in Lake City

Alt Sec 4 Easy Go around Home Gulch

Alternative route - easy bypass.

Gas to Taylor Park

Gas available in Taylor Park

Sec 4 Buena Vista to Gypsum

Be prepared for varying types of roads in Section 4. Just outside Buena Vista, the route follows sandy two-track through an OHV area. Heading north, riders will traverse three major alpine passes on your way to the high desert landscape of Gypsum. Weston Pass is the first and has no major obstacles. Food, lodging and fuel are available in Leadville, a historic mining town and one-time front runner for Colorado state capital. Haggarman Pass is typical of Colorado’s backcountry, offering stunning views of the rugged alpine tundra. After descending into the Fryingpan River valley for a short stint on black top, the route heads north again over Crooked Creek Pass. Lime Creek Park has a few primitive camp sites at the base of a steep limestone canyon. Alternatively, ride to the other side of the pass and pay for spot at Sylvan Lake State Park. Narrow logging and hunting roads will bring you from Sylvan to Gypsum through dense pine and aspen forest.

Sec 5 Gypsum to Steamboat Springs

Section 5 begins on a mellow dirt road that runs past the town’s namesake gypsum mine north of town. Low sage and black dirt offer a unique contrast to the alpine settings experienced in previous sections. Wilderness and private land limit off-road options through this part of the state, so a small section of paved riding is necessary to link the best dirt sections together. Keep an eye out for State Bridge along the Colorado River and Highway 131. This funky venue offers camping in teepees and yurts, and live music events. North of State Bridge you’ll encounter mellow dirt roads with a few shallow water crossings. Camping is very limited once you cross over Highway 134 near Gore Pass, so riders looking to pitch a tent should keep their eyes peeled between State Bridge and the historic stagecoach stop just south of the highway. The small section of road below the dam at Stagecoach Reservoir is particularly stunning in the early morning or late evening when the sun bounces off the river winding next to the road. Highlights: Colorado River, Historic Stagecoach, downtown Steamboat Springs Camping: State Bridge, Campgrounds at Stagecoach Reservoir

Sec 6 Steamboat to Wyo Border

The final section of the route is a mellow one. Just north and west of Steamboat Springs, the route connects gently winding roads through lush farmland. These are well used roads, so be wary of farm trucks and other traffic. As you pass Steamboat Lake, the road narrows into serene pine forest, but remains relatively easy. Highlights: Steamboat Lake, aspen forests, Little Snake River Valley. Camping: Steamboat Lake, Routt National Forest

General Disclaimer; Limitation of Liability
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THE USE OF UTBDR AND THE WEB SITE IS ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK AND THAT THE WEB SITE AND THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED TO YOU "AS IS" WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES. COMPANY DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT MATERIALS IN THE SITE OR THE SERVICES ARE ACCURATE, COMPLETE, RELIABLE, CURRENT OR ERROR-FREE. COMPANY DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT THE SITE OR ITS SERVERS ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.

IN NO EVENT SHALL COMPANY, ITS DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES OR AGENTS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, SPECIAL, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, OR ANY OTHER DAMAGES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO LOSS OF USE, LOSS OF PROFITS OR LOSS OF DATA, WHETHER IN AN ACTION IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO NEGLIGENCE) OR OTHERWISE, ARISING OUT OF OR IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE WEB SITES, THE SERVICES, THE CONTENT OR THE SITE MATERIALS CONTAINED IN OR ACCESSED THROUGH THE WEB SITES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY DAMAGES CASED BY OR RESULTING FROM RELIANCE BY USER ON ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED THROUGH THE WEB SITES OR THAT RESULT FROM MISTAKES, OMISSIONS, INTERRUPTIONS, DELETION OF FILES OR EMAIL, ERRORS, DEFECTS, VIRUSES, DELAYS IN OPERATION OR TRANSMISSION OR ANY FAILURE OF PERFORMANCE. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AGGREGATE LIABILITY OF COMPANY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, WARRANTY, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE, WHETHER ACTIVE, PASSIVE OR IMPUTED), PRODUCT LIABILITY, STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHER THEORY, ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE SITE EXCEED ANY COMPENSATION YOU PAY, IF ANY, TO COMPANY FOR ACCESS TO OR USE OF THE WEB SITES.

TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, IN NO EVENT WILL COMPANY OR ITS LICENSORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES OR LIABILITIES WHATSOEVER ARISING FROM OR RELATING TO THE DATA, THE SITE, OR SERVICE, WHETHER BASED ON CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHER THEORY, EVEN IF COMPANY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

THE GPS TRACKS ARE PROVIDED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE. ACCORDINGLY, THEY ARE PROVIDED "AS IS," WITH ALL FAULTS, DEFECTS AND ERRORS, AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, COMPANY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIED, ARISING BY LAW OR OTHERWISE, REGARDING THE APPLICATIONS, THE SITE AND THE SERVICE AND ITS PERFORMANCE OR SUITABILITY FOR YOUR INTENDED USE, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NONINFRINGEMENT. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, COMPANY DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE GPS TRACKS, THE SITE OR THE SERVICE WILL BE FREE OF BUGS, ERRORS, VIRUSES OR OTHER DEFECTS, AND COMPANY SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY OF ANY KIND FOR THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE APPLICATIONS, THE SITE OR THE SERVICE OR ANY OTHER PRODUCT OR SERVICE ASSOCIATED THEREWITH.

Governing Law; Jurisdiction
These Terms of Service are governed by the laws of the State of Washington and the United States of America, without regard to any conflict of law principles to the contrary. You agree that any action at law or in equity arising out of or relating to the Site or the Service shall be filed only in the state and federal courts located in King County, Washington and you hereby irrevocably and unconditionally consent and submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of such courts over any suit, action or proceeding arising out of these Terms of Service.

COBDR FAQ

Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route.  

COBDR Packing List

(This packing list serves as an example and is not intended to be a complete list for your backcountry riding needs. Feel free to customize this list to work for you.)