The Steamboat Bike Park and Emerald Mountain have helped Steamboat Springs become a must-hit fat tire destination. Photo courtesy Joel Reichenberger
Looking to plan your next mountain biking vacation? You’re in luck, the list that follows has a host of suitable landing spots sure to fulfill your wildest fat tire dreams. From sweet backcountry singletrack, to fabulous flow trails, to comprehensive ride centers, it’s all here. Just add you and a bike for guaranteed fun.
This ultimate vacation destination list comes courtesy of our friends at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (better known as IMBA), who just wrapped up their biennial World Summit in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Part of the five-day powwow included awarding this year’s most acclaimed mountain bike locales with the prestigious IMBA Model Trail Awards, which encompasses epic rides, full-service ride centers, flow trails and community bike parks. Honorees were a wide ranging bunch that stretched from Arkansas to Wyoming to Australia to Canada to a whole lot of amazing places in between.
But before we dive into the list of winners, we’d be remiss not to give a big shout-out to this year’s World Summit host locale. We were among the fortunate 400 or so attendees who got to spend time riding in and around Steamboat Springs. Known as Bike Town USA (they’ve even trademarked the phrase), Steamboat was named a bronze-level ride center in 2013 thanks in part to all those trails (nearly 200 miles total), plus a thriving IMBA chapter (the Routt County Riders) which helped build many of those trails.
Steamboat’s Emerald Mountain has 50 miles of singletrack and more than two dozen named trails. Photo courtesy Corey Kopischke
And while the weather didn’t always cooperate during our stay, the vast abundance of trails more than delivered. The full-face gravity crowd was satiated by the emerging Steamboat Bike Park (50 miles of trails), while XC disciples could spend days ripping around the serpentine singletrack on nearby Emerald Mountain, which has more than two dozen named trails that covers another 50 miles.
Perhaps even more impressive, last November local voters approved more than $5 million in lodging tax proceeds to go directly toward building more trails. No surprise that when it came time for IMBA to pick this year’s World Summit host, Steamboat beat out 15 other locations, including fellow Colorado mountain bike Meccas, Breckenridge and Crested Butte.
Now onto the IMBA award winners with text courtesy of IMBA and its communications czar Mark Eller. Also be sure to check back to Mtbr later this week to read about the heated debate surrounding electric mountain bikes, as well as a wide-ranging interview with Eller that touches on everything from fatbike access issues to why IMBA might not be the organization you thought it was. (Find out how to join here.)