So you made the decision to race or tour the Colorado Trail, planned your resupplies and picked out your gear.  Now it’s time to get to the trailhead.  The Colorado Trail (CT) is fairly easy to get to on either end as the race pretty much starts in towns.  It’s even easier with our Colorado Trail Transportation Guide.  But like with any travel, there are some small hurdles.  Though compared to the Tour Divide or the AZT, transportation on the CTR is a snap.

The only real hurdles are parking, limited choices of airlines at the Durango airport, and getting from Durango back to Denver.  None of these are hard to over come.  Keep reading and this Colorado Trail Transportation Guide will guide you right to the trail.

*NOTE almost all data has been collected on 3rd party sites and could change without notice.  Be sure to do your own research.

Do you find this page valuable?

Shopping with our affiliates helps fund the development of content like this.

WHICH AIRPORT TO FLY INTO?

The airport most people fly into is Denver International (DIA).  The other option is Durango (DRO).   DIA is 6.5 hours by car from Durango, so keep this in mind when planning your trip.  Many riders car pool from Denver to the start when it’s in Durango.  The beauty of the CTR is if you’re in a pinch you can ride your bike from either airport to the start of the race or from the finish.  Shuttles, train, and bus options can be found below.

CTR map - Colorado trail - Colorado Trail Transportation Guide - Colorado Trail Guide

Denver International Airport

DIA is a larger international airport, which means options, but it’s also located on the outskirts of the city.  As luck would have it, it’s also on the complete opposite side of the city from Waterton Canyon.  Transportation and shuttle options can be found below. The full list of airlines that service DIA includes:

You have a few options to get from DIA to Waterton Canyon.  They include having a friend drive you, ride your bike, taxi, Uber, train, bus/shuttle, or any combination of any of these.  You can find details on all these in the Transportation section below.

Durango

Durango – La Plata County Airport is the closest airport to the southern terminus.  It’s a 20 minute car ride or 1 hour and 25 minutes by bike from downtown Durango.  Picking an airline isn’t hard as there’s only two.  They do offer rental cars if you’re looking to drive back to Denver or else where after you finish (See the transportation section for more).

Getting to and from the airport is pretty straight forward.  Google Maps directions are linked below for convenience.

TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

Whether your going N/S or S/N the Colorado Trail has many options to get to the start or back from the finish.  Both the start and finish are in town making access to public and private transportation very easy.  Listed below are just some of the more popular options for getting to and from the trail.  You might also try Facebook or Craigslist for ride sharing options.

Driving

DENVER –  It’s a 50 minute drive and 47.9 miles to Waterton Canyon from DIA.  Driving directions (Be aware some routes have tolls).

DURANGO –  It’s a 20 minute drive and 14.7 miles to Durango from the DRO airport.  Driving directions.

Riding

DENVER – The ride from DIA to Waterton is 50 miles and takes abour 4.5 hours. Riding directions.

DURANGO –  The ride from DRO to Durango is 14.4 miles and takes 1 hour and 25 minutes. Riding directions.

Train

DENVER – Taking the train involves some logistics but think about it as “urban logistics” practice for the race itself.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Find your way to Level 1 by following signs for the “Transit Center”.
  2. Take the RTD train to Denver’s Union Station.  The cost is roughly $9.00, one way.
  3. Once to Union Station make your way 1 block to the Light Rail Line and board the C line to Mineral Station, roughly $4.50 (multi regional pass).  From here you have two options.
  4. Option #1 – Ride your bike via the paved path at the end of the station, which is near the 7 Eleven store across the street to Chatfield State Park, and then finally a dirt road to the Waterton Canyon TH. This map will help you navigate the park.
  5. Option #2 – Call a taxi or request an UBER (roughly $11-16)

DURANGO –  N/A

Bus

Shuttle

Taxi

DENVER –

Transportation Providers Information
Public Bus Website
Shared Ride Service Website
Taxi Website
Mobil App Services Website
Charter Buses Website

DURANGO – 

Transportation Providers Phone
Animas Transportation 970-259-1315
Buck Horn Limousine 970-769-0933
Celerity Limo 970-640-7545
Durango Cab 970-259-4818
High Up Tours & Transportation 970-238-0136
Mountain Limo 888-546-6894
Wilderness Journeys 970-731-4081

Rental Cars

DENVER –

Company Phone Number/Website
Advantage Rent A Car (720) 324-2260 | website
Alamo Rent A Car (877) 222-9075 | website
Avis Rent A Car (303) 342-5500 | website
Budget Rent A Car (800) 527-0700 | website
Dollar Rent A Car (303) 317-0598 | website
E-Z Rent-A-Car (800) 277-5171 | website
Enterprise Rent A Car (800) 261-7331 | website
Fox Rent A Car (800) 225-4369 | website
Hertz Rent A Car (800) 654-3131 | website
National Rent A Car (877) 222-9058 | website
Payless Rent A Car (800) PAY-LESS | website
Thrifty Car Rental (800) 367-2277 | website


DURANGO –

Rental Car Company Reservations Phone Number Local Branch Phone Number
Alamo (800) 462-5266 (970) 247-3944
Avis (800) 331-1212 (970) 375-7831
Enterprise (800) 261-7331 (970) 385-8648
Hertz (800) 654-3131 (970) 247-5288
National (800) 227-7368 (970) 259-0068

Getting From Denver to Durango or Durango to Denver

Getting back from the end of the trail to the city you flew into or wanting to fly into the finish, and then get to the start is a little harder than the above.  You do have options available.  Keep reading to find out how.

Denver to Durango

– Bus

You can take the Ride Bustang to Grand Junction (GJ).  The bus is the 710 Daily (West Line) and leaves Denver Bus Center (DBC) at 6:35 am and arrives in GJ (Greyhound Station, 230 S 5th St.) at 12:35pm.  A ticket will cost you $43.00. From the Ride Bustang website about bikes:

You may bring up to 3 pieces of luggage to stow underneath the bus. Bicycles, skis, or snowboards each count as one piece of luggage.

Once to GJ you take Road Runner Stagelines (also owned by Bustang) to Durango.  The bus leaves GJ (Greyhound Station, 230 S 5th St.) at 1:25 pm and arrives in Durango at the Transit Center 250 W. 8th St. at 7:10 pm. A ticket will cost you $43.00. From the Road Runner Stagelines website about bikes:

“…Baggage must not exceed 62 inches when adding the total exterior dimensions of the piece (length + width + height). Bicycles, skis and snowboards will be accepted on a space available basis…”

– Train

You can take Amtrak from Denver (Union Station) to Grand Junction (339 South 1st Street). A ticket will cost you $104 not including your bike which should be another $20. From the Amtrak website:

“Each passenger can check up to 4 bags – 2 free of charge and 2 for $20 per bag, each not to exceed 50 lbs. (23 kg), 75 linear inches (length + width + height).”

The train ride is 7h 52m from 8:05am to 3:57pm. Which means it’s longer than the bus, more expensive and you wouldn’t make the connecting bus to DGO. With that said the train ride is supposed to be beautiful!

– Ride Share

You can also try Facebook or Craigslist.

Durango to Denver

– Bus

Take the Road Runner Stagelines from above to Grand Junction.  The bus leaves Durango at 6:40 am and gets to GJ at 12:23 pm. The Ride Bustang leaves at 12:35 pm and gets to Denver at 6:35 pm.

– Train

The train leaves Grand Junction at 10:23 am and gets to Denver at 6:38 pm. Price is the same but slightly longer going eastbound, 8h 15m.

– Ride Share

Western Slope Craigslist

PARKING OPTIONS

Parking is always an issue no matter what trail you’re on, and the CTR is no different.  You do have some options but it’s ultimately up to you whether you feel safe leaving your car unattended for the duration of your race/tour.  Hopefully the options below will help make the process a little easier so you can worry about the rock in front of your wheel and not your car.

DENVER – There is parking at Waterton Canyon Trailhead but you must alert Denver Water before doing so.  More information can be found on Colorado Trail Foundations site.  They also have info of using local RV dealers as a parking option.  There are however multiple Park-n-Rides parking lots around the city. The two closest are:

Ken Caryl & Shaffer Pkwy Park-n-Ride – address: 7450 Shaffer Pkwy., Littleton

South Santa Fe & Mineral – address: 3203 West Mineral Avenue, Littleton

The first 24 hours are free then it’s $2.00 a day after that.  There is also a 30 day limit.  These are just public lots without security and should be used at your own risk.

DURANGO – There is no rule against parking on the street in Durango but there is an “Abandon Vehicle” law. From the time someone calls and complains about your car, you have 10 days before it’s towed. Depending on how long it takes someone to call, if at all, you might have enough time to get back to your car in time.

Your other possible option is to call the Durango Transit Center (970) 375-4960.  Depending on the timing, availability and circumstances they may be able to sell you a 1-2 week pass to park in their day use lot.  There is NO GUARANTEE, as this isn’t an offical program they usually offer.

The most reliable option is to use one of the shuttle services listed above or get a friend or family member to help.  But keep in mind that and they will have no true idea of when you’ll be finishing, making logistics hard.

The last option is to just ride to or from the trailhead.  Both trailheads are relatively close to the airport, compared to the race itself.

SHIPPING YOUR BIKE

To ship or to check your bike on the plane, that’s the question.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, I’ll leave the decision up to you.  What I will do is offer some helpful information about both options to make your decision easier. You only have two options. #1 carry your bike on the plane. #2 Ship it.

Plane

Charges range between $50 and $150 for most airlines.  Don’t forget size limitation when boxing your bike.  Most require your boxed bike be less than 62 inches in combined size (length plus width plus height) or charges may apply.

Just like with resupplying doing your homework pays off when flying.  If you’re willing to look, there are “hacks” to get around paying for traveling with your bicycle.  With so many airlines, there’s to many for me to research, but don’t hesitate to do some research yourself.  You just might find a deal.

Bicycle handling fees for Airlines - Arizona Trail Transportation Guide - Colorado Trail Transportation Guide - Tour Divide Transportation Guide

Ship

Shipping allows you some flexibility in how you get your bike to and from the race.  Typically you have three options:

  • Personally box & ship (costs range but start around $70 for a cardboard box, but actual cost is determined on weight, size and location).
  • Outsource to your local bike shop.
    • $50 to box (prices vary)
    • Plus shipping cost (costs range but start around $70 for a cardboard box, but actual cost is determined on weight, size and location).
  • Use Bike Flights
    •  Boxes, Pick up, Delivery, Insurance, Tracking and more!  Amazing service, worth checking out.
    • Adventure Cycling Association – receive 10% discount on boxes and cases at Bike Flights, along with a list of other discounts from other companies.

Pro-Tip

Remember to remove any Co2 cartridges before shipping or flying with your bicycle.  Also consider putting any lubes in a ziplock bag, just in chase the pressure makes them leak.

Shave time and tape by not fully taping up your box up at home. TSA will most likely go through it with you before they accept it or you’ll have to remove items to be under the weight restrictions.

CHECKOUT ALL OUR GUIDES

Arizona Trail Logo - pregnant triangle - One of Seven Project - Arizona Trail Guide - FINISH TIME CONTEST
Tour Divide/Great Divide MTB Route Logo - tour divide guide
Colorado Trail Logo- One of Seven Project - colorado trail guide
Kokopelli Trail Logo - Kokopelli Trail Guide - Bikepacking

Support the Project

Simply clicking on the links below with our affiliates supports the Project.

Amazon - Clothes, Electronics, Sports Gear & Apparel, Automotive, Toys, Books, Music
Outdoor Research - Technical Outdoor Gear & Apparel
Backcountry - Outdoor Gear & Apparel
Yeti Coolers - Outdoor Gear