Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route®

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7 Days
Dates: July thru September
Denver, CO
Cortez, CO
Max People : 8

Tour Overview

Colorado offers some of the tallest mountains passable by motorcycle in the US. With several passes over 12,000 feet, there is no shortage of views on this route, just shortness of breath while taking in the sights in the thin air of Ophir, Corkscrew, Hurricane, California, Cinnamon, Cumberland, Cottonwood, Weston and Hagerman passes.

Beginning in the four corners location where, CO, AZ, NM and UT intersect, this 675-mile route winds its way north through the Rocky Mountains to the Wyoming border. The terrain includes dirt roads with rocks, sand and even a few water crossings to keep it exciting. The plan for this ride is to begin in Steamboat Springs and head south, finishing up in Cortez, CO and having the option of continuing the ride for an hour south to the Four Corners Monument.

We will meet up in Denver and head out the next day for Steamboat. After a night’s rest, we will begin the BDR® making stops in the towns of Gypsum, Lake City, Buena Vista, Telluride and finishing up in Cortez. After a night in Cortez, we will ride back to Denver.


A portion of your ride fee will be donated to two very worthwhile charities. The first charity is Motorcycle Relief Project. MRP takes military veterans with PTSD on Adventure rides giving veterans the opportunity to ride and share stories together. The second charity is the BDR® community itself. Donations to BDR® allows the continuation of route development and promotion.

Itinerary Overview

Plan to arrive in Denver. Lodging will be provided (see hotel details) for this evening. We will leave the next day riding from Denver to where we will start the BDR® in Steamboat Springs. We leave on the start of the BDR® the following day running the route north to south. Each day will be an average of around 120 miles with the longest day being about 144 miles and the shortest being 64 miles. This day, however, we will be covering the vast majority of the high mountain passes so while the mileage is low, the thrills will certainly be high. We arrive in Cortez, CO (the home of motocross star, Eli Tomac) on August 1st. You will have the option of completing the BDR® by riding south to the Four Corners Monument. We will stay overnight in Cortez and head back to Denver. This will be a long trip of pavement covering about 380 miles. Dinner in Denver that night and depart for home the following day.

Tour Options

Option 1:


  • Lodging
  • Dinner in Denver on the first night and breakfast each morning
  • Guides (carrying Spot Messenger and Satellite phone)


Single Occupancy: $2400

Option 2:

Double Occupancy: $1700 


Departure Location

Denver, CO (Google Map)

End Location

Cortez, CO (Google Map)

Departure Date & Time

July thru September

End Date & Time

July thru September

Price Includes

  • Airport transportation (before and after your ride)
  • Welcome dinner the evening of your arrival
  • Hotel accommodations each night
  • Luggage portage throughout the tour
  • Breakfast each day
  • Group pictures and tour pictures book
  • Emmaus MotoTours T-Shirt
  • Professional tour guides
  • Spot messenger and Satellite phone
  • Donation to Motorcycle Relief Project
  • Donation to Backcountry Discovery Routes® Organization

Price Excludes

  • Lunch on the tour
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Fuel
  • Entrance fees for national parks and touristic places

Don't Forget To Bring:

  • Riding Gear
  • Rain Gear
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Phone
  • Bluetooth Helmet Comm (optional)

Tour Specifics

  • Ride Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Terrain: Rock, Sand, Large Elevation Changes, Water Crossings, Asphalt


Day 1 – Ride to the start

Denver to Steamboat Springs (225 miles)

The tour will begin with a ride from Denver to Steamboat Springs and our starting place for the BDR®. Once we get out of the congestion of Denver, we will be riding through mostly two land back roads through Pike National Forest passing through the towns of Bailey, Fairplay, Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Kremming, through the Routt National Forest and into Steamboat. We will be staying overnight at the Rabbit Ears Motel (named for the mountain pass, not Heffner lair).

Day 2

Steamboat Springs to Gypsum (120 miles)

The ride starts in Steamboat Springs. The official start of the COBDR® begins at the Wyoming border and crosses into Steamboat. This section from Wyoming to Steamboat is relatively tame and adds a lot of time to the trip traveling north to the border then south. As we leave Steamboat we will cross the beautiful Stagecoach Reservoir. We will take the time to stop and enjoy the sun over the reservoir. We will also make a stop at State Bridge for something to drink, a snack and admire the yurts and teepees. We will also experience the silt-like gypsum sand along Trail Gulch Road heading into Gypsum. We will stay at the Eagle River Lodge in Eagle.

Day 3

Gypsum to Buena Vista (143 miles)

We will get our first taste of mountain passes during this section as we traverse Weston and Hagerman passes. The route up to Hagerman first takes us through an Alpine Forest and the rocky ascent up to Hageman can be challenging and rewarding as at the top we cross the Continental Divide. We will stop in the historic town of Leadville for lunch at High Mountain Pies. We will also hit another stretch of sand north of Buena Vista. Tonight we stay at Buffalo Peaks B and B Lodge and Cabins in Buena Vista.

Day 4

Buena Vista to Lake City (144 miles)

Leaving Buena Vista we head west over Cottonwood Pass and Cumberland Pass. We will also hit a few water crossings on this section. The towns of Pitkin, Tincup and Taylor Park offer opportunities for food and supplies. These few passes from yesterday and today will get us warmed up for tomorrow when we tackle the lion’s share of the mountain passes on the COBDR®. Tonight we stay in cabins at Legacy Lodge and kitchen facilities will allow us to prepare dinner and breakfast.

Day 5

Lake City to Telluride (64 miles)

Today is classic COBDR® day hitting several high altitude passes including California, Corkscrew, Cinnamon and Ophir. The last featuring several tight, rocky switchbacks. Only 64 miles today but we will work for every mile. Before ascending to California and Corkscrew we will go the ghost mining town of Animas Forks. Once we get through Ophir we enter into the town of Telluride with the stunning Bridal Veil falls overlooking the town. We will stay at Camel’s Garden

Day 6

Telluride to Cortez/Four Corners Monument (70/115 miles)

Today is our last day on the COBDR®. This last section is a reward for 4 days of challenging riding as this section is significantly easier. We leave Telluride on the pavement. We also have the option of heading up to Bridal Veil before leaving town for a great view of Telluride. We will still have some dirt on this section as we travel some decent two track. We come out at the town of Dolores before riding the pavement into Cortez (the home of motocross superstar, Eli Tomac). We will stay at the unique Retro Hotel. Riders will have the option of completing the BDR® by heading through Tribal land on asphalt to the Four Corners Monument where the states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado meet. Travel back to Cortez for the night.

Day 7

Cortez to Denver (380 miles)

380 miles of blacktop to Denver are on the horizon today as we travel some beautiful roads through the heart of Colorado. We will pass through the historic Wolf Creek Pass and then down into Denver and back to Staybridge Suites Hotel. The epic journey is over and tomorrow we all head for home.



Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route®





What Bike Should I Ride:

Any bike can manage the COBDR. Smaller dual sport bikes will handle the off road sections best but will be limited during highway miles and the ability to carry gear. Larger Adventure Type motorcycles are well suited for BDRs.

What Type of Tires Should I Use:

At least 50:50 type tires such as Heidenau K60 Scouts or MotoZ Tractionator GPS. But more aggressive tires would be better such as Continental TKC 80s, MotoZ Tractionator Adventure or MotoZ Tractionator Rallz.

How About Gas:

Ideally you should get at least 125 mile range. This should be fine for most ADV bikes but smaller bikes may consider carrying extra fuel such as in a Rotopax. 

How Difficult is the Terrain:

It can vary with the weather as recent rains can drastically increase the difficulty. Snows are usually not a problem from July through October but this year significant snow persisted into August. Many of the mountain passes are rocky and a comfort managing rocks is a must. 

What About Carrying Luggage:

The options are using hard panniers or soft bags. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Hard cases offer security and protection of valuable equipment such as cameras. But a fall risks getting a leg trapped under a case and a hard impact can be transferred to the sub frame and damage it. Soft bags are not as secure but have a reduced risk of injury or damage to the bike. Personally, I have tried both and use soft luggage (Mosko Moto 35L Expedition bags) now. 

Is Camping an Option:

It is. There are places to camp on the route but for the tour we will be staying at hotels along the way. 

Terms and Conditions


Submitting a registration form does not confirm availability nor participation on a tour
Emmaus MotoTours requires a 30% USD non-refundable deposit at time of booking.

Motorcycle rental within a guided motorcycle tour

Rider is also subject to the the terms and conditions of any motorcycle rental company when purchasing a tour that includes motorcycle rental.

Cancellation Policy

If a tour is canceled by Emmaus MotoTours ahead of departure because of lack of participation all deposits and balance payments are 100% transferable and refundable.

Cancellations initiated by the participant received in writing to with more than 30 days notice before tour start date will receive their 30% USD deposit in full.

Cancellations initiated by the participant received in writing to with 30 or less days notice before the tour start date will forfeit their deposit and any balance payments as a cancellation fee.

Emmaus MotoTours reserves the right to cancel a participants tour during the tour if the participant is disruptive or putting themselves or others in harms way. No refund or credit will be issued.

Liability Release Form

To download our liability release form, click here.