This newly built tiny house is completely off the grid in Montana. Busby photo.
Mollie and Sean Busby live on the northern edge of the Flathead Valley in Northwest Montana. The stunning peaks and amphitheater basins of Glacier National Park lie to the northeast, and some of Montana’s best inbounds riding is just up the road at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Sean is a professional snowboarder living with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the pancreas is basically broken. He also has Lupus, an unpredictable autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body at any time. Mollie runs an international nonprofit called Riding On Insulin, and the pair own two local yoga studios called Yoga Hive.
And on top of it all they live off the grid… in a tiny house.
Sean riding down a fjord in Northern Norway. Andrew Meehan photo.
Three years ago, the Busbys pitched a yurt on the side of a mountain in the woods. They’ve lived there ever since. Last summer, they added a sizable garden, chickens, and ducks, and a 420 square foot tiny home — a mountain homestead they call “The Busby Hive” (get it?).
Living off the grid means Mollie and Sean are responsible for their own power, water, and sewage. They haven’t had a utility bill in almost three years.
Sean shuttling firewood up to the yurt and tiny house. Mollie Busby photo.
To get to their home in the winter, they have to snowmobile or ski tour up a steep, dirt road. They haul up water to drink, or use rainwater and snowmelt. They heat the place with wood from the downed trees on the property. (They also built the tiny house with those trees.) They use solar for all of their power, and they have to follow a series of complicated and important instructions to use the composting toilet—because messing that up really sucks.
After hearing their story, I was inspired to take little pieces of the self-sustaining life they’ve built and apply it to my own.
Maybe it will inspire you, too.
Mollie & Sean, happy with the yurt. Goal Zero photo.
Sean was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 19. The process was awful, consisting of a misdiagnosis and a lot of ‘sick days’. He almost quit his snowboarding career all together. But he read stories of kids much younger than him living with type 1 and they inspired him to soldier on. He refocused his snowboarding career on splitboarding and expeditions.
In 2004, Sean began developing ski/snowboarding camps for kids with type 1 (or T1D). Kids could come to the camp and learn how to snowboard while still managing life as a T1D. He called the program “Riding On Insulin.” And because of the program, six years later, he met Mollie.
Sean riding in Iceland. Mollie Busby photo.
Sean was hosting a Riding On Insulin camp in Wisconsin and had been mentoring a kid named Jesse who also lived with T1D. “Jesse loved skating and snowboarding and was a lot like me,” Sean says. “He was like my little brother.”
Jesse died from T1D at 13 years old and Sean was asked to give his eulogy. “Mollie was there because she had worked with Jesse’s mom,” Sean says. “Life’s crazy because later when Mollie and I got married the only date we could do it ended up being on Jesse’s birthday. And now, Jesse’s mom works for Mollie.”
In June of 2010, Mollie moved out West to Utah to be with Sean, where he lived since finishing up his bachelor’s degree.
“If you can build a house together, you can make it through anything,” says Mollie.
That same year, she incorporated Riding On Insulin as a 501c3 nonprofit and stepped into the role of executive director. She grew the organization into a qualified nonprofit that serves over 500 kids internationally. She says it is the hardest, most rewarding thing she has ever done.
In 2011, Sean and Mollie got married and two years later they made the move to Montana. “Moving up to Montana was all about getting out of the crowded backcountry scene,” Sean says, “and getting into an area where we have access to the Canadian Rockies.” And just over a year later, they decided to switch up the daily grind.
They bought some property on foreclosure and built a yurt.
A few years ago, Sean and Mollie went on an expedition to the Yukon. They stayed in a 10×10 cabin with zero amenities. No running water, no propane stove, and of course, no service. “It was so enjoyable,” Sean says. “I would just lay in my bed and look out the window at the Northern Lights every night. We had so much time to reflect.”
Enjoying the Northern Lights on a snowcamping expedition in Iceland. Busby photo.
Later that year, Sean and Mollie went to a Ted Talk given by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who are more widely known as “The Minimalists.” Millburn and Nicodemus talked about how they had six-figure incomes but still weren’t happy. They had too much stuff. So they put everything they didn’t use in boxes and got rid of it. “We went home that night and tore our closets apart,” Mollie says.
In 2013, they bought the property, and the following summer, built a yurt—and have lived in it ever since.
Mollie enjoying a hot cup of joe on the property with their pup, Glacier. Sean Busby photo.
“I feel like living in a yurt saved me,” Mollie says. “Back when we lived in the house, we’d come home, make dinner, watch a movie and go to bed. But when you come home to a yurt there is work to be done. And it’s healing. I can be outside and listen to the owls and be connected to nature. There’s a real rhythm to it.”
That’s why when Sean was diagnosed with Lupus last year, they didn’t abandon the yurt. They built a tiny house.
The tiny house. Done as of October, 2016. Busby photo.
“After living with Lupus for a while, I realized being in a yurt is so much hard work especially off the grid. We appreciate and love the work, but on days where I feel sick and can’t move, Mollie has to do everything while also running businesses. There are just a lot of systems that can fail,” Sean says.
The tiny house is about a third of the size of the yurt, and they can heat the thing up with one log. The pair learned from building the yurt how to make the tiny house systems more efficient, and added a wood-fired hot tub on the deck so Sean can use it for recovery when Lupus attacks his muscles and joints.
Everything is sustainable, reclaimed, and has a story. Busby photo.
“Every piece of this house has a story and that was really important to me while building it,” says Sean. “Eighty percent of the house was built from reclaimed materials. The frame and support systems were made with timber from our property.” They found the rest of the materials from houses that were torn down and their sliding glass was found at ReStore by Habitat For Humanity.
Not bad. Not bad at all. Busby photo.
Ultimately, this lifestyle Mollie and Sean have chosen grounds them. That’s why they are still doing it despite so many wrenches thrown in their show. “I can choose to dwell on the fact that I’ve been dealt some shitty cards,” Sean says. “Or I can be skinning up to the yurt and be like ‘man, this is so rad I am so grateful for everything I have and I have been given so much.’”
Original article posted by the folks at Teton Gravity Research
The most common assumption I receive on the trailers is its just big enough to sleep in. And at first glance that makes sense, the cabin is only 9 feet long. But once you unfold this Swiss Army Knife on wheels you realize the true utility of these campers. With a 80″X 56″ sleeping area and a border line professional kitchen, they pack a punch.
We have truly enjoyed the ideas customers come to us with. From mounting motorcycles on the tongue to hot water showers it seems like the customization is nearly endless. And as our customer base grows we want to grow with it. Most recently we’ve added a roof top tent option. Now a 9’x 5′ cabin can sleep 4 people and still fits in a standard garage!! Paired with off road and off grid capabilities you are ready for adventure!
The tent manufacture we chose to use is the Horizon Vision built by James Baroud USA. This tent is the top of line tent on the market. I had seen this tent at outdoor events in the past and was very impressed. Once we actually got our hands on one and tested it out we were ecstatic. Set up and pack up takes about a minute and is built with the highest quality canvas. My favorite part is the non existent rainfly which makes this unit the most simple but also the most well engineered option. It also has the lowest packed profile creating less drag on the tow vehicle and easy parking in your garage.
If you are looking to get the whole family or adventure crew out into the wild with a small foot print this set up rocks. Shoot us a email or give us a ring at 720-515-2762. Have another custom option you’d like to see? Let us know, we love tailoring to peoples ideas!
Ok, one more picture because we just love this thing!
This is probably our favorite upgrade. Nothing better than a hot shower after a long day in the wilderness. This system runs off the onboard propane and water supply. Simply turn on the shower head and the heater automatically ignites giving you instant hot water. The heater is mounted inside a Pelican case to provide a waterproof and dustproof storage. This option is available on either unit but does require the water and propane kits. Check out the video below for a quick run down.
I currently reside in Colorado but was born in Minnesota and spent the majority of my youth there. Growing up with a family whos vacations involved packing up the station wagon with tents and granola I learned to love the elegance that is the”Land of the Loon”. Minnesota may not have the likes or followers that Colorado has. But what it lacks in fame and tourists it makes up with pure, flawless beauty.
This film is the culmination of several weeks spent in the northernmost region of Minnesota known as Voyageurs National Park. Encompassing more than 340 square miles, Voyageurs is a watery wonderland almost exclusively accessible by boat. Journey with us as we explore a land blanketed in pristine lakes, ablaze with kaleidoscopic fall colors, and home to the most spectacular displays of the northern lights on the planet. This is Voyageurs.
The moto mount option is available on both camper models. To allow room for a motorcycle and proper weight distribution we lengthen the standard frame and slightly change the axel line. The spare tire is also moved to the rear fender to allow for tongue space and weight distribution.
This set up offers a perfect basecamp for any motorcycle escapades. Set up camp, unload the bike, and explore!
With numerous options from all wheel drive, traction control, snow mode, sand mode, I thought this article may give some clarification on the basics of rotating your wheels! Also there are a few, rarely seen photos of the time I buried my 10,000lb Sportsmobile in a snowbank. Enjoy!
Why do Subarus work better than Jeeps in some conditions and vice versa? The answer is in the way they power their wheels. Even if all four are driven, the way power gets to them—and what that does for your driving—differs hugely. Other times, it may not differ at all. Confused? Let’s explain how this all works. This article was originally published by Matthew Scott at Outside Online.
When you take a turn in your car, truck, or AWD wagon-cum-SUV, the outside wheels travel farther than the inside wheels, so, they need to spin faster. To allow this speed differential, there’s a device called a differential between the wheels on an axle. Your front wheels also travel further than your rear wheels, so in an AWD or 4WD vehicle, there’s a need for a differential between the front and rear axles as well.
This system is great on the road, where you have good traction. But all this fancy no-crashyness in high-traction road conditions gets in the way once you encounter the kind of low-traction situations you’ll find off-road or in bad weather. You see, the nature of a differential is to direct all an engine’s torque down the path of least resistance—the tire with the least grip.
If you’ve ever tried to drive up a snowy slope, you’ve probably noticed this. When you hit the gas, one wheel will spin freely, while the other does nothing. To find grip in these conditions, you have to lock the wheels together. And how a vehicle does that is what defines its capability.
Let’s stick with the short answer: Traction. Everything else being equal, four wheels have twice the traction of two. Of course, as we began to get into the above, getting power to all four wheels is pretty complicated.
Thanks to that differential between your axles, an AWD car will send your engine’s power down the path of least resistance—the wheel with the least grip. Where a two-wheel drive car can only choose between two wheels, an AWD system looks for that least resistance across all four wheels.
To counteract this, the better AWD cars are fitted with a center differential that contains a clutch or viscous drive unit. This splits torque front-to-rear, directing it away from the spinning wheel. Because it does this on-the-fly, automatically, without any driver intervention, good AWD vehicles can help a driver maintain traction through variable conditions. AWD can go from grippy pavement (where the differentials need to allow different speeds side-to-side and front-to-rear) to slippery snow, rain, or dirt (where torque also needs to be apportioned to wheels with grip), virtually instantaneously. That’s why AWD is the better choice for most drivers and why it helps you safely navigate both inclement weather and light off-road driving. A big differentiator in AWD systems is how much torque they’re able to apportion—the more the better. Make sure to look for that number when researching your next car purchase.
4WD works by locking the front and rear axles together, splitting torque 50:50 between them. This provides great traction, but a vehicle locked in 4WD cannot safely be operated on dry pavement because its front and rear axles are forced to rotate at the same speeds. In addition to potentially causing the vehicle to spin out of control, that also causes a lot of stress on the powertrain and can damage it. Locked in 4WD, a vehicle needs wheel slip to compensate for the different axle speeds—in 4WD, a truck is able to find traction on loose surfaces, but also needs loose surfaces to work. So you only really ever use 4WD off-road, or in deep snow.
Just to make matters as complicated as possible, some 4WD vehicles can also operate in AWD. Wes’ Land Rover Discovery is a great example. While driving around Hollywood, on paved roads, he won’t have the front and rear axels locked together. To repeat our previous topic, that means torque is sent to all four wheels, but not split front to rear. Torque goes to whichever of the four wheels has the least grip. Then, when he’s off-road in Baja, he locks that center differential, enters 4WD, and power is split evenly front-to-rear, doubling his traction. With this arrangement, a full-time 4WD vehicle is able to operate safely on the road with its center differential unlocked, then traverse loose terrain by locking that differential.
While 4WD can split power evenly front-to-rear, it can’t apportion it side-to-side, across an axle. This means that in 4WD, torque is still traveling to the wheel with the least grip on each axle. To fix that, you need a locking differential, which forces both wheels on an axle to rotate at the same speed. This is the last piece of the puzzle to maximizing mechanical traction off-road. With a locked center differential, and locked differentials on both axles, torque is apportioned equally to all four wheels.
“Lockers” can work via mechanical, electronic, or pneumatic means. Advanced off-road vehicles such as the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon or Mercedes G-Wagon, come outfitted with front and rear lockers as stock, which means they’re the only vehicles truly capable of simultaneously driving all four wheels in low-traction conditions. If your vehicle does not have front and rear lockers, they’re the best investment you can make to achieve more off-road capability. ARB’s air lockers are completely invisible to your vehicle’s handling, until you hit the switch, engage them, and get instant grip.
Into The Wild Side Bar:
So last winter myself and a few friends chased a big storm down to Crested Butte, CO in the Sportsmobile. We were heading back to a parking spot for the night when we crossed paths with a snowplow. The road was narrow and I gave the plow a little too much room. It was over before it began. I slipped off the side of the road and into 30+ inches of fresh, axles were sunk and snow up to the passenger windows.. The plow guy let us struggle for a bit before he offered us a tug out. The van did have 4wd drive but I don’t think even front and rear lockers would have saved us.
If you’ve ever tried to drive your car up and over a curb, you’ll have noticed how much gas it took just to creep over that simple obstacle. And your car probably didn’t like it. Wondering how 4x4s crawl up giant, steep rocks? It’s not with more power, it’s with lower gearing. Low-range gearing multiplies an engine’s torque (typically by a factor of two to four). It’s like shifting into the granny gear on your mountain bike—suddenly climbs require much less work. This also has the effect of multiplying the effects of engine braking; low-range gearing allows you to go down very steep terrain without using the brakes.
By enabling you to tackle technical terrain at lower speeds, low-range gearing also makes the obstacles easier on your gearing, enabling your suspension to absorb the bumps, and maximizing safety. Always be in low-range if you’re around anything steep off-road.
Off-road, your vehicle’s capability used to depend on 4WD, locking diffs, and other specialty components. Technology is changing that. These days, people want the vehicles to be able to crawl the Rubicon Trail and lap the Nurburgring. Traction control is making that possible.
Who needs an expensive, seldom-used locking differential when you can just trick your ABS system into doing the same job? By selectively actuating the brake on a spinning wheel, this technology mimics the effect of a locker, directing torque to the wheel with traction. These days, traction control has become so effective that it’s able to catch a spinning wheel within 1/100th of a rotation. It automatically provides the benefits of a locker, without you needing to know when to use one. The only downside comes from the fact that you’re robbing torque from the engine to get traction—fine, if you have more than enough torque, but bad if you don’t have the gearing to find it.
You can actually use your left foot to mimic this. The next time your AWD Subaru is stuck, with one wheel spinning uncontrollably, try left foot braking while modulating the gas pedal with your right. That should send power towards the wheel that has grip, allowing you to drive right on out.
I stumbled across this short edit a few days ago. It reminded me about the time I spent traveling the Western US living in my camper named “The Betty”. I traveled alone during my trip, spending the winter in Breckenridge, CO skiing as many days as possible. Once the winter was over I spent the next 6 months exploring mountain bike parks across the Rockies and beyond. I truly enjoyed the solitude that comes with exploring alone.
Looking back on the trip, I always wondered what it would’ve been like traveling with another person. And the conclusion I’ve arrived at is…. It would have been a totally different trip, not in a bad way, not in a good way, just a different way. Anyways, watch the video below, I think it rings true for many of us.
I S O L A T I O N… A short film about a character who abandons societies predictability in a bid to uncover the secrets buried within the mysterious and dramatic landscape of the Scottish Highlands.
Directed by : Mathieu Bernat & David Guersan
Sound : Arthaud Versaveaud
Starring : Jamie Farquarshon
«Night Sky» – Tracey Chattaway
«A Three-Legged Workhorse» – This Will Destroy You
Shot in the Scottish Highlands.
Everyone and their mother knows that Colorado is a place of unending beauty and incredible geographic diversity. From the infinite plains in the East, to the craggy spine of the Continental Divide in the center of the state, to the arid desert landscapes in the West, it’s almost unfair how much outdoor goodness exists in Colorado.
Editorially speaking, you could spend a lifetime creating lists and stories of things to do and places to see in the state. So why add to the content clutter? Well, because maybe, just maybe, we’ll mention a spot where you haven’t been or that you haven’t heard of, which you can add to your CO bucket list and hopefully experience one day.
In this slightly differentiated list, Hanging Lake will not make an appearance. Nor will the Great Sand Dunes or Garden of the Gods or plenty of other sweet spots. Rather, these 21 spots, which vary in popularity (and in epic-ness), were all places that the RR Road Tour team was lucky enough to hit on their 20,000-mile journey across the United States….Will we be moving the company to The Centennial State in the next few years to come? Let’s just say we won’t rule it out.
Up and over Boulder’s Flagstaff Mountain (a classic road ride for many area cyclists), and nestled in a gorgeous area of the Front Range, Gross Reservoir is a 440-acre dammed mountain lake that’s teeming with recreational opportunities. On the western banks, people with high enough suspension on their vehicles can arrive at a remote lakeside campsite and enjoy free-of-charge camping and cold-water fishing access. And for flat water paddling enthusiasts, it doesn’t get much better than exploring the countless little inlets and coves along the 11-miles of shoreline. Beware though: if you’re planning on parking above the reservoir at the Gross Dam Road lot, the uphill hike back to your car with a board or boat in tow is a heart-pumping, quad-burning thorn in the ass. (But it does make for a great photo op!)
Rocky Mountain is one of the most visited national parks in the country. Yet only a few of the thousands who visit ever venture more than a mile or two into the heart of its wilderness glory. And it’s a crying shame, because the area is home to some of the most stunning natural scenery in the country. One particular hike that offers an exemplary sampling of some of the park’s best features is the 9-mile route to Ypsilon Lake. It’s more of a strenuous trek in the woods than a casual ‘walk in the park’—and you may even need snowshoes for the higher elevations early in the season—but if you manage to make it to the lake, you’re in for a waterfall-fed treat of gorgeous proportions. The lake pristinely sits in a little pocket below a commanding cliff face and among sweetly-smelling cedar trees. Enjoy a lakeside picnic and maybe even a frigid swim, but be sure to hike back to the trailhead before the inevitable 3pm thunderstorms come clapping and exploding your way.
Okay, so we may have just had a little knock at the people who experience the park only by car, but this road is just too epic not to mention. For 48 miles, Trail Ridge Road—the highest continuous paved road in the US—wraps and winds its way from Estes Park in the east through alpine and evergreen forests and over colossal mountain passes all the way to Grand Lake on the western edge of the park. Some of the views along the way are so incomprehensibly vast, they’d leave Shaquille O’Neal feeling small. (And he’s not a small guy!) It’s the kind of road that not only makes you marvel at the dramatic natural beauty, but also makes you wonder how in the hell humans were able to execute such a logic-defying feat of engineering.
The twenty-two primitive campsites along the equally primitive Lincoln Creek Road, just outside of Aspen, offer the kind of car camping experience that dreams are made of. What you’ll remember? Well, first, you’ll remember being jostled about on one of the gnarliest, bumpiest forest service roads you’ve ever been on. Then you’ll remember arriving at your campsite to enjoy a secluded night of sitting around a campfire, listening to the namesake creek babbling on by, and sleeping under a huge Colorado sky with very little light pollution. Of note: cars without high suspension or 4-wheel drive need not apply.
At 12,095 feet, Independence Pass is the highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide in the United States. Sure, the Pass itself is worth pulling over to snap a photo or two, but really the entire route along Highway 82 between Aspen and Twin Lakes is pretty exceptional. On the Twin Lakes side, the road abruptly ascends from the valley floor, charging up some of the steepest switchbacks imaginable and unveiling better and better views of the surrounding Sawatch Range as it goes up. Once to the top, the treeless alpine tundra allows for incredible views in all directions, and then it’s back down the other side towards Aspen for some more scenic splendor. We’re talking glimmering aspen groves, enormous crags and boulders, and the raging Roaring Fork River, which parallels the road for a number of miles.
Approximately nine miles from Aspen, with one of the easiest approaches, Grotto Walls has been called the centerpiece of Independence Pass. With a parking lot at the bottom of a winding bend in the highway, this wall gathers crowds of climbers as well as spectators. This is one of the few climbs on the pass that stays dry when the rain rolls through, as it usually does in the summer afternoons in Colorado. Cryogenics Corner is definitely the flagship crack of this wall. To tackle it, you’ll need a lot of gear, ranging from nearly off width at the bottom and finger-sized crack holds near the top. The crack is rated 5.10a with a bonus climb on the second pitch above, rated at 5.10+.
Despite its name, the Lost Man Loop is not an actual loop; rather, it connects two trailheads on Highway 82 close to Independence Pass. The Lower Lost Man Loop starts in some trees and ascends gradually, before opening up into a large, gorgeous alpine meadow valley. You are below treeline, but since there’s mainly scrub oak and sage brambles, the vistas are beautiful, with high ridges in just about every direction. If you make it to Upper Lost Man Lake, the views of Geissler Mountain and the surrounding peaks are incredible, especially when bedecked in snow in the spring or fall. (Probably best not to attempt this run or hike during mud season; you’ll encounter snow in the upper stretches, and the trail will resemble more of a creek than a trail in some places.)
Aspen’s Sunnyside Trail offers unobstructed views of the Roaring Fork Valley and surrounding mountains. As its name implies, Sunnyside enjoys a good deal of sun and offers exceptional sunsets, as the trail faces southwest. Accessing the trail via Rio Grande requires a winding uphill climb through scrub oak and sage bushes, but the views become more and more spectacular as you ascend. Once you’ve reached the top of the ridge, it’s time to come back down. And what a descent it is! For trail runners and mountain bikers, it doesn’t get any better. You can positively fly down the straightaways and smoothly roll through the switchbacked berms.
Ah, the Maroon Bells. Sure, you’ll likely never have this spot all to yourself—and you can’t even get there between 8am and 5pm from mid-June until Labor Day unless you want to hop on an overcrowded bus. That said, you can’t deny how breathtakingly gorgeous the bells are. And there are, in fact, a number of ways to experience the beauty without getting jabbed in the face by a stray selfie-stick. Roadies can cycle up through 8-miles of glorious aspen groves (and then quickly coast back down). Hikers can get lost on some lesser-known—yet easily accessible—trails in the National Forest. And seriously skilled alpinists can attempt the exhilarating (and dangerous) traverse of the twin summits.
The Rim Trail, just outside of Snowmass Resort, is a beautiful, non-technical loop with fun, swooping singletrack and mind-blowing views of the snow-capped Rockies. In a maze of ribbon-like switchbacks, the Rim Trail winds up the 700-foot ridge on smooth and immaculate trails until reaching a lookout platform and memorial alter at the summit. From here, you can turn around and zoom back down the way you came or keep going and traverse the scenic ridgeline before dropping into serene aspen and sage meadows and ending at the Rodeo Parking Lot, where you can hop on the Snowmass Village bus back to your car.
The Black Canyon—one of the deepest canyons in North America—is a place of sheer, dramatic beauty and ancient superstition. Thousands of years ago, Ute Indians knew about this fearsomely steep crevasse in the earth and avoided it at all cost. When European explorers stumbled upon it in the 1800’s, they left no written record of the discovery, and not until 1853, when one John Williams Gunnison rounded the southern rim of the canyon, was there ever any official account made. Later that year, Gunnison was killed and mutilated by Ute Indians. Was his ill-fated end the result of passing over this cursed canyon? You can’t rule it out.
Home to a grand total of 638 full time residents, Silverton, CO is an old mining town in the San Juans that really gets the wild, wild west nostalgia flowing. The main drag is littered with colorfully painted buildings—running the gamut from old-timey hotels, to dingy restaurants with bison burgers on the menu and elk heads on the walls. And the ‘Notorious Blair Street,’ in the Red Light District, features even more lawless western charm, with an old jailhouse, plenty of authentic saloons with “batwing” doors and wooden balconies, and yes, a handful of buildings that were once brothels back in the day. Arguably, few places in the country so perfectly capture the essence of the early American West as Silverton does. As you walk the streets, it’s impossible not to imagine a bunch of gun-slinging, gold-chasing outlaws marauding the streets, wreaking havoc, and just counting the seconds until high noon.
Animas Mountain is the trail Durango runners love to hate. The six-mile loop climbs to a high point and runs along the circumference of the local hill. No matter which way you cut it, you will run uphill for some 2.5-miles. The trail is rocky and uneven, and requires constant attention. But, for nearly the entire run, you’ll have amazing views of Durango to the South, the Animas River Valley to the North, and the stunning La Plata Mountains to the West. Animas Mountain is a tough, but extremely rewarding run, providing stout climbs and spectacular scenery.
Located within the San Juan National Forest, the Weminuche Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in Colorado. Roughly 500,000 acres in size, this place is positively enormous in size and mostly untouched. Sure, there are a few abandoned mine shacks randomly sprinkled here and there, but for the most part, it’s a rugged land of thick forests and gigantic mountains. (There are three 14ers that call the Weminuche Wilderness home.) If a weekend is all you have, camping in the Vallecito Campground is an easy and memorable experience. There are 80 sites, well-spaced out and perfectly serene, and there are horse trails and hiking trails, which lead directly from the campsite into the heart of the wilderness.
Excuse the pun, but these intricate cliffs are the culmination of over 700 years of living life on the edge. What began as pueblos on the roof of the mesa for the Ancestral Puebloans, slowly transitioned into cliffside palaces and villages etched into the sides of red rock ledges. Some of the dwellings contain over 125 rooms and once provided shelter for up to 600 people at a time. Today, visitors walk through the park with their jaws dropped and eyes wide with awe. Officially named a national park in 1906 by President Roosevelt to “preserve the works of man,” there are more than 600 cliff dwellings, 4,700 archaeological sites, and innumerable stories breathing from the rock at this truly special national park.
Simply put, Phil’s World is amazing. This 28-mile trail network is known far and wide for its flowy build and smooth loops, but what’s undersold is its variance. True to its name, it really is an entire world down there. Riders can pick and choose from singletrack as clean-shaven as a sixteen year old, or test their technical prowess and get bumpy on the rock ledges, shelves, and drops. Beginners can acclimate to Phil’s World on Trust Loop and Hippy House, while the ambitious and experienced cyclists can head straight to Lemon Head and Ledges. No rider, however, can ever have an excuse to visit Phil’s World and leave without riding Rib Cage, the most (deservingly) famous trail in this paradise of a mountain biker’s labyrinth.
Stroll down Telluride’s main street, Colorado Ave, and you’re staring down one of the most photographed views in the region. Back against the valley wall, Ingram Falls topples down from the basin above and flows into the San Miguel River. However, turn the corner, and not visible from Colorado Ave, yet still the most famous waterfall in the valley, Bridal Veil Falls thunders over 365 feet down. To get there, drive up the Black Bear Pass Road and take a chilling shower in the mist of Bridal Veil. Seriously: you can’t get any closer to the base—the switchback nearest to the falls is so close you need to use your windshield wipers. After you’ve had your fill at the base of the falls, you can continue driving up a few more minutes (and a few hundred vertical feet) to walk around the Lemony Snicket-like power plant that balances on the edge of the waterfall’s cliff face. Originally used to power the town’s Smuggler-Union Mine, today, roughly 25% of Telluride’s electricity comes from Bridal Veil Falls.
In a time when campsites (understandably) charge fees for their use, it’s a breath of fresh air when you pull off a dirt road to find pristine campsites for the price of nothing. Literally, nothing. Just good ‘ol, classic, free camping. No amenities, just first-come, first-serve campsites surrounding two tranquil lakes. Wake up with the sun and wade into the waters with your fly rod, or gently push off the shore for an early morning paddle. Alta Lakes, about 15 minutes up a dirt road (and then only another 10 minutes) from downtown Telluride, is also surrounded with a vast collection of prime singletrack hiking and biking trails. Best campsite in Colorado? It’s definitely in the running.
Prospect Trail is roughly 10 miles long, criss-crossing beneath Palmyra Peak’s shadows and climbing a couple hundred feet in roundabout fashion before freeing you to descend. And damn, what a descent! Whether you choose to ride the loop to Mountain Village or continue and drop in all the way to the valley floor, Prospect shoots through tight trees, blending the smooth singletrack with technical root sections and skintight turns. Ride it fast, ride it casual; ride it dry, ride it in the rain; either way, ride it. All that, and we didn’t have space to even mention the countless jaw-dropping viewpoints that will tempt you to “catch your breath.”
While kayakers and rafters flock to the forks of the San Miguel River beneath Telluride, it’s the portion in town and through the valley floor that sees just as many smiling faces. Grab your tube and head up to the Town Park at the end of town and hop in. Or rent a paddleboard and test your balance and paddling skills as you navigate a few miles out of town and reach the Highway 145 roundabout the wet way. You might have to duck under an occasional bridge, and the water is shallow in some places, but ultimately, the paddle is a unique way to see the valley floor. Odds are, you’ll see an elk, or two, or fifty. If you can brave the chilly evening, time your paddle with the sunset and watch the summer sky behind the mountain peaks.
There might not be a hike quite like the Via Ferrata anywhere else in the country. How many trails do you know that require a harness, helmet, a few locking carabiners, and two 48-inch slings? Built in 2006, this “hike” is more of a scramble, or even a climb at times, across the east end of Telluride’s canyon walls. You transition from careful trail scrambling to doing your best crab impersonation as you stretch across the face of the wall, using iron ladder bars that were drilled into the route. It goes without saying that you are always, even on the trail, clipped into a cable. The 2-3 hour traverse has become one of Telluride’s most popular outdoor adventures. The views further back into the canyon and Bridal Veil Falls are stunning, especially in the fall, and looking back down on town is just as breathtaking. Be sure you’re ready for sweaty palms, big heights, and don’t look down—or do!
Designed and built by Into The Wild Expeditions in Colorado, the Boreas XT teardrop trailer is a true off-road and off-the-grid camper. With independent suspension and 17 inches of ground clearance the only limit to this trailer is the vehicle towing it. On board water, 100 watts of solar power, and sleeping for two makes Colorado’s backcountry easily accessible.
The Boreas XT is completely turnkey. The galley kitchen comes fully equipped with a Dometic 12v fridge/freezer, sink, and two burner stove. The solar kit will keep your deep cycle AGM battery topped off during extended off-the-grid adventures. Bring all your gear and accessories with ample storage in the cabin and kitchen cabinets. With a dry weight of just over 1600 pounds and electric brakes it is easily towed by any sized vehicle.
Want your own custom trailer? Give us a call or email and we can discuss custom options.
The trailer pictured is available for sale at $15,900.
•Frame is sealed steel tubing – no drilling into the frame so no risk of water intrusion and rust
•Frame built by certified welder
•2 coats each of industrial primer and paint
•Timbren Axle-Less 2,000lb HD independent suspension
•Full sized spare
•.040” Anodized Aluminum exterior sheeting
•3/4” treated plywood base coated with industrial sealant
•Multi Axis hitch coupler (rotates on all axis)
•Rear leveling jacks
•7 point plug
•Front jack with wheel
•All LED lighting with reverse lights
•Aluminum fenders coated with heavy duty bed liner
•2 Exterior LED porch lights
•Body – 5’ x 9’
•Length – 13’6”
•Width – 89” fender to fender
•Height – 6’4”
•Weight – 1,640lbs dry
•Tires – 31×10.5 BF Goodrich All Terrain KO2s
•Wheels – Steal 15×8, 5 on 4.5 bolt pattern (Jeep pattern)
•Frame – 2”x2” 3/16” steel tubing