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Want to hike in Colorado, but don’t have a car? These transportation options will take you to (or near) a trailhead

Want to hike in Colorado, but don't have a car?  These transportation options will take you to (or near) a trailhead

If you’ve had enough of the traffic and crowded parking lots at the trailhead or just don’t have a car, there are still plenty of ways to get to hiking spots in Colorado by buses, shuttles, and trains.

Here are some relatively affordable, traffic-free ways for Front Rangers to get to—or at least close to—mountain trails. This guide is designed to give you some basics on how to get there, but be sure to do your homework on the trail itself before heading out.

bus bar

Bustang of the Colorado Department of Transportation coach service along Interstate 70 can take you from Denver to hiking communities like Frisco, Vail and Glenwood Springs. From this summer, buses on that line will go back and forth six times a day. Local transport companies in many of those areas offer even more options once you arrive. (The I-70 Coalition) has a list of all local transport companies and some private providers here

CDOT is new Pegasus shuttle service weekends and holidays also runs approximately hourly between Avon and Denver starting on Memorial Day weekend.

Thanks to CDOT
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s new Pegasus shuttle runs along Interstate 70 between Denver and Avon in the Vail Valley.

And new this year Bustang’s Weekend Denver to Estes Park Service is active all summer (rather than just during the moose’s fall rutting season) and takes you straight to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bustang Outrider

Bustang’s cousin Outrider service, which connects smaller communities, also has a lot of outdoor potential. The line down US 285 and US 50 includes stops in Buena Vista, Salida, Gunnison, and Crested Butte. The US 40 route can drop you off at Winter Park and Steamboat Springs. Other lines include: Durango to Grand Junction and Grand Junction to Telluride† But beware: these lines only run once a day.

RTD/Boulder County Shuttles

There are plenty of offshoots near RTD bus lines in places like downtown Golden and Boulder. RTD also operates a shuttle bus that can take you near trails in Evergreen, but he doesn’t drive often

But the real star in the RTD system is the NB bus between Boulder and the Netherlands, which runs every two hours. Hiking options from the Netherlands itself are limited. But drive the NB all the way to Nederland High School on Fridays and weekends and then jump up Hessie Trailhead Shuttle from Boulder County for easy access to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area

Nathaniel Minor/CPR News
The King Lake Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area is accessible by public transportation—a combination of RTD’s NB bus and a Boulder County-run shuttle.

Local authorities also offer free summer weekend shuttles to nearby Eldorado Canyon State Park and the ever-popular Chautauqua Trailhead† Shuttles run approximately every 15-20 minutes.

My favorite: the California Zephyr

Last summer, I jumped up Amtrak’s California Zephyr at Denver Union Station early on a Sunday morning. After a wonderful journey of about two hours winding through the Indian Peaks and the Moffat Tunnel, I got off the train in Fraser.

at on beautiful hiking trails nearby. I took a local bus a few miles south to Winter Park and then started hiking east to the Indian Peaks. After camping at the top of Rollins Pass, I ended my walk near the Netherlands – where I took RTD’s NB bus back into town.

Another more remote train option

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway drops backpackers and day hikers in the rugged San Juan National Forest. One stop brings you close the Chicago Basinthat’s almost three 14ers.

What other outside lines have I missed?

Tweet me @nbminor and I’ll see if I can add them here!