Anyone following cycling the last few years knows that riding bikes on gravel roads is having its moment. The mix of scenery, safety and challenge have all conspired to make the road less traveled more desirable. Get off the paved path and you’ll encounter fewer cars and more solitude and serenity. That’s the inspiration behind the first annual RTR Getaway Gold Belt Gravel Tour, a three-day self to semi-supported ride that circumnavigates Colorado’s famed Gold Belt region, an area rich in old west mining history and replete with stunning scenery — and amazing gravel roads.

Starting in Woodland Park, this testing route traces a 222.3-mile or 155.10 mile counterclockwise loop that passes through Cripple Creek, Cañon City, Victor, and Colorado Springs. There are two route options: a more relaxed, easy going option or a more challenging option both in distance and elevation.  Pick what works for you. Notable highlights include Shelf Road, Red Rock Park, Temple Canyon, Phantom Canyon Road, Victor Pass, and Gold Camp Road. But most impressive of all is that the Gold Belt Gravel challenge route is 55% off-pavement (122.6 miles total) and features a leg-leg burning 21,747 feet of climbing.  Remember there are more relaxed options on Day 1 and 3, which significantly reduce total mileage and climbing. It is a getaway – do what is most enjoyable for you!

Route Options:

Relaxed Gravel Route: 155.10 Miles/14,810′ Approximate Elevation Gain
Challenge Gravel Route: 222.3 Miles/21,747′ Approximate Elevation Gain

Overnight Towns:

  • Thursday, July 8, 2021 – Packet Pick-up: Woodland Park
  • Friday, July 9, 2021 – Cañon City
  • Saturday, July 10, 2021 – Colorado Springs
  • Sunday, July 11, 2021 – Woodland Park
Register for the Gold Belt Gravel Today!

Registration Fee:  $375

Provided with Registration:

  • A spot in the 200 cyclist capped ride
  • Commemorative T-shirt
  • Daily Feed Zone Bag
  • Hydration Stations
  • Route Map and signage
  • Route Support
  • Medical personnel
  • Mechanical
  • Weekend Parking

Not provided with registration:  lodging and baggage transport

Limited to 200 cyclists.  Registration is on a first come, first served.

Lodging Options:

  • Hotels can be booked via Summit Cycle Solutions
  • Camping Elevated will open in April.   Camping Elevated is a valet camping service.
  • On your own:  you are welcome to secure your own lodging or even bring a friend who drives the RV!

Baggage Support:


Day 1 – Friday, July 9

Woodland Park to Cañon City
Relaxed Option: 56.2 Miles/ 3,403′ Elevation Gain/13 miles of gravel

Challenge Option: 88.4 Miles/7,462’ Elevation Gain/40.4 miles of gravel
Highlights: Cripple Creek, Shelf Road, Red Canyon Park (Challenge route only), Temple Canyon (Challenge route only)

The 2021 RTR Getaways Gold Belt Gravel Tour starts with a bang, as riders make the testing southerly trek from Woodland Park to Cañon City. With nearly 7,500 feet of elevation gain (most of it on gravel roads, some of them rough), this is by far the longest and toughest day of this three-day event. Not the first 25 miles, though, which are completely paved, allowing legs and lungs to warm up, as you make the gentle climb up to the day’s highpoint around 10,200 feet, and then pass through the casino gambling hub of Cripple Creek.

Next, the real fun (and gravel) begins, as the route makes its first foray onto Colorado’s famed Gold Belt Scenic Byway. Just south of Cripple Creek commences Shelf Road, a nearly 13-mile stretch of mostly downhill, unpaved adventure that once served as the primary stage coach link for people, goods, and ore traveling between Cripple Creek and Cañon City. Highlights include the canyon narrows, aptly named Window Rock, and the inspiring Shelf section, a 5-mile stretch of road that hugs the sheer rock walls perched high above Fourmile Creek. The road itself is mostly smooth, with a few rougher sections here and there.

Around mile 38, the route briefly returns to pavement. This is the fork in the road with riders wanting a shorter day can simply continue straight on County Road 9 for an easy paved 10-mile spin to the finish in Cañon City.  For those seeking more challenge and more climbing,  it’s back on dirt for the next 16 miles, as the route swings west into stunning Red Canyon Park. Initially the red dirt road is smooth and flat, but soon it begins to tip skyward, as you begin an ever-rolling journey up to 8,000 feet and the return to pavement. Along the way, you’ll encounter a few rough sections which may require a brief dismount. But generally road condition is good, allowing for steady spinning in this hidden gem of central Colorado.

After returning to pavement at mile 58, you’ll turn left onto County Road 11. There’s one last short climb, then it’s nearly all downhill (and paved for the next 20 miles) before the day’s final dirt section. Here you’ll travel through picturesque Temple Canyon, which sits just south of the Royal Gorge and Cañon City. These 9-miles of gravel are ever rolling, and offer access to several scenic overlooks. Once back on pavement, it’s a quick 3-mile spin into Cañon City.

Reminder: This is a semi-supported bike tour. We will provide a detailed route map highlighting facilities, water stations, convenience stores, great food stops and historic/scenic landmarks. There will be route support in terms of SAGS, medical and mechanical.



Day 2 – Saturday, July 10

Cañon City to Colorado Springs
70.5 Miles/6,948’ Elevation Gain/
50.9 miles gravel
Highlights: Phantom Canyon Road, Victor, Victor Pass, Gold Camp Road

Day 2 has both the longest climb and descent of the Ride the Rockies Gold Belt Gravel Tour — and there is no bailout option. After an easy, paved spin east and then north away from Cañon City, the route heads onto famed Phantom Canyon Road, which turns to dirt at mile 10.4 and stays that way until mile 35, just outside the historic mining town of Victor.

More noteworthy is the elevation gain of what was once the route of the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad (built in 1894), and is now part of Colorado’s Gold Belt Scenic Byway. During the trip on 25 smooth dirt road miles you’ll gain a jaw-dropping 3,870 feet. The good news is that it’s all on railroad grade, meaning the road is rarely steep. Indeed, in many places it’s hard to tell you’re climbing at all. Along the way you’ll pass through several rock walled tunnels, cross narrow wooden bridges, and pass by a dozen now-defunct station stops that were once part of the F&CC rail route.

The climbing doesn’t end at the top of Phantom Canyon Road. After spinning past Victor, which along with neighboring Cripple Creek was once part of the second largest gold mining district in the United States, the Day 2 route tops out at Victor Pass, elevation 10,201 feet. That’s followed by a brisk, but brief paved descent, before turning onto Gold Camp Road for the extended descent into Colorado Springs on the day’s final gravel section starting at mile 39. It’s flat or downhill for the next 25 unpaved (and sometimes rough) miles, as the route plummets to the finish in Colorado Springs, which is nearly 4,000 feet below the day’s high point.

Reminder: This is a semi-supported bike tour. We will provide a detailed route map highlighting facilities, water stations, convenience stores, great food stops and historic/scenic landmarks.



Day 3 – Sunday, July 11

Colorado Springs to Woodland Park
Relaxed: 28.4 Miles/4,459′ Elevation Gain/22.3 miles gravel

Challenge: 63.4 Miles/7,337’ Elevation Gain/ 38.8 miles gravel
Highlights: Garden of the Gods, Rampart Range Road, Pikes Peak Views, Rule Creek Trail (Challenge route only)

Though it’s the shortest day of the RTR Gold Belt Gravel Tour, the journey from Colorado Springs to Woodland Park is far from easy. Indeed, one look at the front end of the elevation profile reveals that this is a true climber’s delight, with total elevation gain nearing 7,400 feet. And most of that uphill pedaling happens right away.

After a quick spin through stunning Garden of the Gods, the route turns onto unpaved Rampart Range Road, which gains nearly 3,100 feet in a touch over 11 miles. The local record for fastest time up is 52 minutes. Figure it’ll take regular folks 2-3 hours — or more. But like the big climbs of days past, this one is fairly gradual, with an average grade of 5.2 percent. Along the way, you’ll be treated to myriad long distance views of towering Pikes Peak, Colorado’s expansive Eastern Plains, and the sprawl of Colorado Springs.

Once over the heart of the climb around mile 14, the route rolls along the top of the Rampart Range for another 11 unpaved miles, before returning to pavement and dropping into Woodland Park around mile 28.5. If your legs have had enough, fell free to jump off your bike and call it good. Otherwise keep rolling for the final 35 miles.

This last leg starts with a spin through Woodland Park and then continues westward for 10 paved miles before heading north toward the Gold Rush Tour’s last dirt road section, which starts at mile 44. From here it’s a dozen rolling miles of variable-condition gravel, before making a right turn onto Colorado Highway 67 for a leisurely 7-mile spin to the finish in Woodland Park.

Reminder: This is a semi-supported bike tour. We will provide a detailed route map highlighting facilities, water stations, convenience stores, great food stops and historic/scenic landmarks.



All proceeds from the RTR Getaways: Gold Belt Gravel will benefit the Denver Post Community Foundation.  The Denver Post Community Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that serves to improve and enrich the lives of those in our community through support of programs that benefit arts and culture; children and youth; education and literacy; and the provision of basic human services. For more information, visit denverpostcommunity.com .