The Great Divide, aka the Continental Divide, is a hydrological divide in the Rocky Mountains that creates an east/west watershed. On the west side of the divide all water ultimately drains to the Pacific Ocean. East of the divide all water drains to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.
Some years ago mountain bikers put together a path running from Canada to Mexico along the divide, 90% of which is composed of dirt roads. They call it the Continental Divide Ride or CDR for short. After the dual sport adventure community discovered the CDR it became a bucket list” rides for many, including me.
Well, it’s time to check at least part of the “Continental Divide Ride” box.
I am organizing a five day Great Divide Ride that will cover the New Mexico and Colorado sections of the Continental Divide. The ride will begin in Silver City, New Mexico on Sunday, June 11, 2017 and end in Steamboat Springs, CO on Thursday evening, June 15, 2017.
Saturday, June 10: Arrive in Silver City, NM.
Sunday, June 11: Silver City – Grants, NM, 267 miles.
Monday, June 12: Grants, NM – Espanola, NM, 217 miles.
Tuesday, June 13: Espanola, NM – Del Norte, CO, 242 miles
Wednesday, June 14: Del Norte, CO – Salida, CO, 156 miles
Thursday, June 15: Salida,CO – Steamboat Springs, CO – 248 miles
Friday, June 16: End of ride
I think there are three ways riders can handle the logistics of this ride:
Supported Ride: Organize a group of friends and trailer together to Silver City, NM. Every day alternate who drives the truck/trailer that day to the end of that day’s leg. Let’s say you organize a group of four to do the Great Divide Ride. All four of you pile into a truck and pull a trailer with all your motorcycles to Silver City and the start of the ride. Each day a different person in your group drives your truck/trailer to the town located at the end of that day’s route. This means you will ride three days and drive one day. A support truck/trailer means your bikes don’t have to be loaded down with a weeks worth of clothes, gear, or camping equipment (for those who want to camp). It also means that if there is a bike problem or one of the riders has health/injury issues, then a support vehicle is available and the rest of the group can continue with the ride.
Half-supported Ride: Organize a group of friends and trailer together to Albuquerque, NM (or pick an alternate location). Leave your truck/trailer in Albuquerque and everyone rides to Silver City and the start of the event. Ride three days north along the divide, then peel off and ride two days along a different route back to Albuquerque. Trailer back home. This method means you have to carry all your gear on your bike but everyone in the group gets to ride every day.
Unsupported Ride: Ride your bike to Silver City. Ride north for five days. Ride back home or to wherever you are going after the rally ends.
I’m planning on staying in a hotel every night. However, don’t feel compelled to do the same. I believe there are ample camping opportunities along the divide but don’t know any details. If your group is planning on staying in a hotel, make your reservations right now! You can always cancel your reservations if something happens. Note that there are very limited hotel options in Del Norte, CO but Alamoso is 31 miles east and has multiple hotel options.
Here are the hotels I’m planning on staying at each evening.
Silver City: Econo Lodge
Grants, NM: Comfort Inn
Espanola, NM: Days Inn
Del Norte, CO: Windsor Hotel
Salida, CO: Hampton Inn
Steamboat Springs, CO: Quality Inn & Suites
As best as I can tell, the longest reported distance between fuel stops is the 160 miles between San Lorenzo and Quemado, New Mexico. I recommend that you have a 200 mile range just to be safe. If you can’t go that far with your stock gas tank either get a larger aftermarket tank or carry spare fuel in fuel bottles or a Rotopax.
The weather should be moderate and rain is typically minimal during June. Expect lows in the 40s and highs in the 70s. There will likely be snow on the highest mountain passes and, if so, your team will likely have to select an alternate route.
The CDR is not known as a difficult ride. Any size adventure bike should be able to make this ride with a properly prepared bike and a rider of average skills. Some of the difficult areas have moderate adventure bypasses and other areas have harder dirt bike routes for those who want more of a challenge.
Map and GPS
You can buy waterproof maps of the route from the Adventure Cycling Association. Note that I have not purchased these maps so I can’t provide any detail about them.
Download the GPS files here in .gpx format. The blue line is the main route. The green line is the adventure bike bypasses. The red line is the alternate, harder dirt bike bypasses.
I recommend take the time to fully study the routes so that you know them well. Paper maps backups are always a good thing, especially when your GPS breaks.
Registration – $20
The cost to attend is $20 and includes a free t-shirt to all riders who register before May 21, 2017. T-shirts will be given out at check-in on Saturday, July 10th at the Econo Lodge hotel in Silver City to registered riders. You must be attend the ride to receive a t-shirt (i.e. t-shirts will not be mailed to registered but non-attending riders).
How to register: Paypal $20 per person, name of each attendee, and t-shirt size for each attendee to firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon notification of payment I will send a confirmation email to you letting you know you are registered. If you don’t receive an email from me then I did not get your registration.
Or you can send a check along with name & t-shirt size for each attendee to:
- Richard Gibbens
- 12609 Red Bud Trail
- Buda, TX 78610
If you provide an email address with your registration I will email registration confirmation upon receipt of payment. If you don’t get a confirmation email from me you should contact me to ensure I have received your registration.