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.
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.
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’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†
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
What other outside lines have I missed?
Tweet me @nbminor and I’ll see if I can add them here!