This is part of a summer series exploring great mountain rides in the state:
Length: 24 miles one-way
Top elevation: 9,520 feet
Overview: This is the easiest route for cyclists, with much less climbing than starting from the west. The ride begins from the base of Muddy Pass and heads to downtown Steamboat Springs. It's a unique trip in that the pass is quite long with summits on the east and west.
On the 2-mile ascent of Muddy Pass, there's not much of a place to get settled. Though not incredibly steep, the climb is fairly steady. But, remember, it's much easier than a start from Steamboat. After reaching the summit of Muddy Pass, it levels for a bit before a 3-mile section to the east summit of Rabbit Ears Pass.
Riders can push themselves on much of this route because any steep sections are relatively short. Upon reaching the east summit, an 8-mile stretch of fun rolling hills awaits. Riding across the pass, take time to soak in the surroundings. While there aren't any rugged peaks towering above, it is still beautiful in its own way.
The reward far outweighs the effort put in during the climb. Depending on the wind direction, cyclists can really reach high speeds on the trip down to Steamboat. Particularly on the lower part of the descent, there are long straightaways where the speedometer easily can read 50 mph.
While the grade levels for the most part in the final few miles, the journey into downtown is quick. Don't forget to fuel up before the return trip if Steamboat isn't your destination. You're going to need it to reach the east summit of Rabbit Ears Pass.
How to get there: Take Interstate 25 north to Denver. Drive west on Interstate 70 to Silverthorne. Take Colorado Highway 9 north to Kremmling. Go northwest on U.S. Highway 40 to the base of Muddy Pass. There is a large pullout on the right side of the highway.
Nathan Van Dyne, The Gazette
Difficulty: 2 of 5
Elevation stays below 10,000 feet, and it's quite mellow compared with most mountain passes.
Scenery: 2.5 of 5
While it's not Colorado at its best, the long ride along the summit is picturesque and peaceful.
Traffic: 2.5 of 5
There isn't much of a shoulder to ride upon early, but eventually it widens and traffic is light.