Fat biking capital, ride the Divide in winter

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking With Keith
Chad Gibbons on Rollins Pass road in January.
Photo Courtesy of Chad Gibbons |

Winter Park is well known as Mountain Bike Capital USA in the summer. We may be becoming more well known as Fat Bike Capital USA. Just recently named Winter Park #1 of 10 Amazing Places To Ride Fat Bikes in Winter. That distinction came from the great riding that is well known at Snow Mountain Ranch and Devil’s Thumb. While those resorts have fantastic Fat Bike riding the most overlooked riding we have is through our backcountry on trails we share with snowmobiles, cross country skiers and other users.

Winter Park may be the only place in the US that you can ride your Fat Bike to the top of the Continental Divide in the winter on trails. Thanks to the efforts of Grand Adventure Snowmobile Tours the Rollins Pass Road is groomed to the edge of the continental divide. This creates a very unique opportunity to take you above tree line and to a place most Fat Bikers will never be able to experience but may envy each time they set out on a ride.

Earlier this month local bike enthusiast Chad Gibbons road to the top of Rollins Pass. Chad is no stranger to winter riding. Most weekends will find Chad on some sort of adventure on his bike. This time he set his goal on a bucket list ride, Rollins Pass. Blue skies and firm snow conditions made this a ride for the ages. Starting in Winter Park and riding up the old historic railroad grade Chad pedaled 10 mile uphill to reach an elevation of 11,500. It is not often that you can transport yourself to a place far above the valley floor in the winter on your bike. Part of your reward are the views from this spectacular place. The towns of Winter Park and Fraser seem far below. The Winter Park Ski Area takes on a whole new look as most of the over 145 trails are readily seen which is something you don’t see from the valley floor.

Selecting the right day was key for this adventure. This is not a ride for the faint of heart. High altitude, cold temperatures and fatigue are not only an inconvenience but can be life threatening for the ill prepared. Proper clothing is not only essential for the ride up but also for the ride back down. Due to the snow you will be pedaling quite a bit on the descent but wind chill can make the most beautiful day cold. If you are going to ride one of the truly bucket list rides in the US be sure to take extra clothing and be prepared for any weather. Your reward will be a ride that very few have ever done.

Looking for more information? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!

Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach me at

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