Tighten up your bike bags and get ready for an adventure in an authentic Colorado town built on grit and a love for the outdoors.
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Pueblo, Colorado is a historic and culturally vibrant gravel bike destination on the southern Front Range. The community enjoys over 300 days of sunshine, and its consistently mild climate makes it an ideal location to do year round riding on a network of 700 miles worth of unpaved roads. Pueblo offers a unique mix of urban and rural characteristics that make it a great place to experience on a bicycle. Visitors will find a number of quality bars and restaurants, lodging, museums, art galleries, and festivals to go along with a gravel riding visit.
The intent of the Gravel Adventure Field Guide is to provide gravel cyclists with a reliable resource for exploring the off-the-beaten-path gravel roads of Pueblo County. We believe the community’s evolution from trading post, to farming and ranching community and industrial center give it a different look and feel to other parts of Colorado’s rapidly changing Front Range. The mountains and plains here will challenge and inspire you to see Pueblo’s small town vibes under open skies.
Things Your Did Not Know About Pueblo, Colorado
Visit Pueblo would like to extend a warm welcome to our community and encourage everyone to enjoy what we have to offer state residents and visitors. Pueblo has a vibrant arts and culture scene, highlighted by the Colorado Creative Corridor designation. Our historic city centers and neighborhoods retain a uniqueness, while also providing easy access to open space and a quality gravel riding experience.
Our 700+ miles of dirt roads access a wide variety of terrain to explore. From the Wet Mountains of western Pueblo County, to the fertile eastern canyons and plains of the Arkansas River Valley, there’s a variety of landscape to see.
The Pueblo Chamber of Commerce and Visit Pueblo are excited to share what we have to offer gravel cycling enthusiasts. This guidebook is designed to help you discover what makes us one of Colorado’s most historic and culturally diverse cities. Experience the flavor of Pueblo and explore like a local.
Pueblo’s origin dates to 1842, when fur traders allegedly helped build a plaza on the confluence of the Arkansas River at Fountain Creek. El Pueblo served as an independent trading post and fort until 1854. It drew traders, trappers, and hunters of Mexican, French, Anglo, and Native American heritage to the region as the Santa Fe Trail developed.
Early Front Range trails forged by Native Americans converged on Pueblo, including the Cherokee Trail and Trapper’s Trail (Taos Trail). Each contributed significantly to westward U.S. expansion. Even present day I-25 follows what once started out as a singletrack footpath that traveled north and south of Pueblo.
The Gold Rush of 1859 brought a new wave of people to Colorado. This in turn helped spawn the cattle industry in Pueblo County. Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving (Goodnight-Loving Trail) drove Texas Longhorn cattle into Colorado by the late 1860s. Pueblo’s agriculture and ranching roots were integral in utilizing the road network to support the regionally connected mining industry, which was dependent on immigrant labor from around the world
Today, Pueblo’s urban downtown amenities, coupled with its history and sizable 746-mile network of rural unpaved roads makes it an ideal destination to explore on a gravel bike.
Turn-by-turn navigation made easy. Get the app, enjoy our routes.
You have the option to save the GPX file to your devise, or download the RideWithGPS app for a small annual fee. Navigate the routes using visual and audio directions and track your ride. Hover over the QR code on the map page with the camera on your smartphone.
Once you have downloaded and registered, scan the QR on any of the following map pages to immediately see, save and navigate the gravel route.
By 1882, Pueblo had transitioned from a frontier trading post to an industrial community known as “Steel City”. An influx of immigrant labor quickly flocked in hopes of finding work in the region’s coal mines and steel mills. While Pueblo is proud of its industrial roots, the reality is the longstanding local economy is undergoing a rapid change.
Today it’s highly likely for Pueblo residents to work in either the clean energy or creative industries. These emerging business segments are transforming the city’s image in the 21st century. While the clean energy and creative industries are considered new, they symbolize Pueblo’s positive path towards the future.
The State Clean Energy Leader
The City and County of Pueblo have positioned themselves to be leaders in the development of clean energy manufacturing and production for Colorado. Capitalizing on a mix of available sun, wind, and land resources is transforming energy infrastructure in Pueblo. Significant solar and wind projects with energy providers are helping to point the county towards meeting aggressive carbon emission reduction goals. Pueblo is revitalizing its local economy by committing to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
Examples of accomplishing this transformation include attracting the largest wind turbine manufacturing plant in the U.S., and using it to complete a 60-megawatt wind farm with energy partner Black Hills Electric Generation to power 28,000 homes. Pueblo is enhancing efforts to train and retain workforce talent through a local college energy modeling training program that offers Photovoltaic Panel Installation Certification. Colorado State-Pueblo is also poised to become the first solar powered university in the country. Enthusiasm for renewable energy in Pueblo has gone even further with a commitment, another world first, to power the Rocky Mountain Steel Mill with solar resources.
Rise of the Creative Industries
Reinforcing Pueblo’s economically diversified future is the commitment to the creation of the Pueblo Creative Corridor. This effort is led by the Pueblo Arts Alliance, which focuses on engaging arts, business, and, community in three historic centers of Pueblo: Downtown Main Street, Union Ave Historic District, and Mesa Junction. Each is 1.1 miles north to south, and two and half blocks wide, making them easily linked by biking or walking. Historically preserved buildings contain galleries, museums, street sculptures & murals, fountains, cafes, retail shops, and live music.
Additionally, a program called The Arts Alliance Studios is utilized to offer affordable studio space to creative industry businesses within the Pueblo Creative Corridor. This program has been instrumental in producing a collective of 17 creative businesses, and 40 creatives are now situated at 107 S. Grand Ave in the city.
The Pueblo Creative Corridor is fostering a community of creative talent that includes artists, silkscreen printmakers, photographers, and even culinary food hall entrepreneurs. We even have the world’s only solar-powered coffee roaster. The creative industries are helping guide Pueblo’s future.
Pueblo Art Murals
Roll through the Pueblo Creative Corridor and you’ll notice a number of murals. These works of street art are part of an intentional effort to highlight and reinforce a creative culture in Pueblo. Their origin dates back to 1979, when local artist Dave Roberts started the Pueblo Levee Mural Project.
A concrete levee built after the Arkansas River flooded on June 3, 1921 became what Roberts dubbed, “the largest art canvas in the state.” He saw the manmade structure as a canvas for artists to gather, learn scale, interact with one another, and obtain new painting techniques. His words became prophetic as artists flocked to Pueblo to paint the levee. The project was ultimately recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest contiguous mural of its kind in the world. It measured at 178,200 sq ft. It grew to be 3.21 miles long and 58 feet tall.
By 2016, the levee structure was in need of long overdue repairs like new concrete and removal of the original artwork. However a new generation of artists is taking on the task of preserving the mural project’s legacy by repopulating with art. As you pedal the Arkansas Riverwalk, expect to see new images depicting community history, ethnic heritage, natural beauty, wildlife and cultural history.
A unique feature of the Union Ave Historic District is the quirky Neon Alley outdoor art installation. The brainchild of longtime Pueblo historic preservationist Joseph Koncilja, it exemplifies the creative spirit permeating the community. Circumventing Pueblo’s preservation ordinance prohibiting neon signs on buildings facing the street, Koncilja set about installing his collection of refurbished vintage signs and new creations to establish a free, and open year round, outdoor museum. Every sign displayed has a story to tell.
Fuel & Iron Project
The old Holmes Hardware building in the Union Ave Historic District is home to an exciting revitalization effort. Fuel & Iron is a culinary and entrepreneurial oriented food hall that includes five restaurant spaces, a coffee and ice cream shop, and central bar. It is intended to help restaurant owners test and establish their business concepts.
Additionally 28 affordable housing units promote a live/work lifestyle. Residents enjoy bike and walk accessibility to the Arkansas Riverwalk, along with all the amenities of downtown Pueblo. An area adjacent to the building will house an urban farm, performing art space, and multi-family housing units.
The start of Pueblo’s deep love for the green chile pepper begins with its roots as a trading post. It is believed that Mexican traders and settlers traveling north in the 1840s brought seeds, and the climate of Pueblo County made it an ideal setting for cultivating peppers. The long, warm summers and low rainfall of the Arkansas River Valley are the perfect conditions for growing chile peppers.
Over the years, regional farmers began to apply horticultural principles, including natural selection, to begin producing a unique local chile variety. The result of these efforts ultimately led to the world renowned Pueblo green chile, with a pungency range between 5,000 and 20,000 Scoville Heat Units.
Currently the Mosco chile is the most common and popular strain grown in Pueblo County. It was cultivated by a team of Colorado State University researchers led by Dr. Mike Bartalo, who is a descendant of multiple generation chile farmers. His uncle, Harry Mosco’s seed stock was used
to develop the Mosco chile.
What makes the Mosco chile special is that it grows larger in size and has a thicker outer skin in comparison to other strains. These body and substance qualities improve the roasting process and give the Pueblo green chile its distinct flavor, which has made it an iconic cultural centerpiece of culinary life in southeastern Colorado. Be sure to join Pueblo in mid September for The Chile and Frijoles Festival, visit a number of farmstands, and celebrate the spicy Pueblo Chile
taste that makes this area of Colorado special.
Every good hometown cycling scene needs “the advocate” to help steer early stage development and advance bicycle accessibility. Adam Davidson is that individual in Pueblo. After moving to town with his Puebloan wife to raise their kids, he became involved with Southern Colorado Trail Builders. The organization has helped build all of the sweet off-road trails at Lake Pueblo State Park. Adam brought crucial leadership to the community’s cycling cause and produced results.
While a mountain biker at heart, a gravel bike is better fit with Adam’s busy lifestyle these days. He is not afraid to ride year-round to meet his fitness and exploration needs. The gravel bike is a valuable resource for putting in miles throughout the week, while also balancing family and professional commitments. He loves living in Pueblo and would enjoy nothing more than to see more cyclists traveling the unpaved county roads.
Organized gravel bike racing comes to Pueblo County for the first time on October 1, 2022 with the inaugural Gravel Locos Pueblo. Event producer Fabian Serralta held his first gravel race in Hico, Texas in 2021. It was the success of that event that inspired him to bring his unique race setup to Pueblo County.
Serralta has created a gravel event designed around inclusivity. From the elite athlete to the first time racer, the Gravel Locos Pueblo event intends to be accessible and engaging to everyone. Gravel Locos events are unique in having no less than five aid stations, several SAG vehicles on course for support, and no cut-off time to finish your goal and distance. A portion of the proceeds go to the Red Creek Fire and Rescue Fund.
A synergy between Gravel Locos and Pueblo is found in a shared cross-cultural experience. Fabian Serralta arrived in the United States from Cuba as a young child. Like the early culturally diverse commercial traders that came to Pueblo, Serralta believes his inclusive approach and commitment to bringing new folks to gravel racing will have a lasting and prosperous influence on the local Pueblo economy. Come as a race participant or spectator and you’ll see how gravel riding can become a new part of Pueblo’s culture.
Registration for Gravel Locos Pueblo is open and the community is looking forward to hosting and showcasing what Pueblo has to offer cycling enthusiasts.
Ride with top gravel pros. Race with your friends. More info: gravellocos.bike
Rules of the Road
• Cattle grazing occurs on select areas of the county. Please close all gates, unless they are intentionally wired open.
• When traveling on gravel roads, beware of truck traffic. Use caution and stay on the right side of the road. Be mindful to not cross the center line on descents.
• In low-light conditions ride with lights. Sunrise and sunset in the valley is rad.
• Water along this passage should be purified prior to use. We have marked water locations on the maps.
• Please stay on the roads. Don’t wander off onto private land.
• Proceed at a safe speed that permits you to react to unexpected circumstances.
• Wave to people you see on your ride.
• Pack appropriate clothing for your gravel ride. Fair-weather riding is a luxury. It takes true grit to set out in foul weather.
• You will be riding in remote areas with little to no contact with other humans.
You need to be self sufficient on your ride. Proper food and hydration to complete your ride in a fun and safe way is your responsibility. You must carry at least 1-liter of water and a 200+ calorie snack per each 20 miles of your chosen gravel ride. Some areas are remote.
Red Creek Springs Road is one of the hidden gems for Pueblo gravel.
Photo: Mixed Media Machine