Located in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest about 35 miles southwest of Denver are more than 100 miles of trails for off-road motorcycles (dirt bikes, trail bikes, or whatever you call them) and ATVs. This area is known as the Rampart Range Motorized Recreation Area. The trails, some of which were originally stage coach roads, and stock and game trails, traverse several hundred square miles of national forest at elevations ranging from about 6,500 feet to over 8,500 feet. There are currently over 20 designated trails with terrain and challenges varied enough for riders of all abilities to find enjoyable. The South Platte Ranger District of the USDA Forest Service and the Rampart Range Motorcycle Management Committee (RRMMC) maintain the trail system.
In 1979, in an attempt to provide a stable source of funding for the activities of the RRMMC, the group began hosting a non-competitive poker run on the trails of Rampart for dirt bike riders. This tradition continues today with the annual Spring and Fall Poker Runs, usually held in mid-June and mid to late-September.
The current activities and concerns of the RRMMC are much the same as they were in the 1970s, but the job is much larger now. The number of people using the area and the variety of activities that they enjoy is much greater than they were 30, or even 15 years ago. The recent popularity of the ATV has forever changed the face of Rampart and our scope has had to expand to preserve riding opportunities for all of us whether we ride a dirt bike or an ATV.
The RRMMC has been fortunate to be a major participant in the OHV grant process. Money derived from the OHV registration program is distributed to the OHV community across the state through grants approved by the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation and the OHV Committee of the state Recreational Trails Program. RRMMC has been awarded many dollars since the programs inception. That money has gone to support the committee’s "on the ground" activities and to supplement money that the South Platte Ranger District receives through the U.S. Forest Service.
If you are at all concerned about your access to and use of public lands in general and the Rampart Range area in particular, you need to make your concerns heard. Take part in the preservation of the area for off-road motorcycle and ATV use by coming to a meeting of the RRMMC and by taking part in our volunteer work parties in the summer. The committee meets on the 4th Thursday of every month, except November and December. See the event calendar for locations and dates.
During the Great Depression the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the Rampart Range road as a public works project. Sixty years later, the road continues to provide public land access for recreation to Denver and Colorado Springs residents. Motorcycle and ATV enthusiasts from around the country flock to the area for the challenging trail system, while others come for the spectacular vistas offered from the road itself.
Rampart has a rich history of dirt bike activity. Did you know at one time it was host to a very tough race called the Bear Track Enduro? Back in the early 70's, Harry's Roamers, the oldest AMA chartered club in Colorado, put on an event that drew nearly 200 riders. Read all about it in this article from the days of BSA's and DT-1's that gives an account of the event, including some great old photos.
The Sprucewood Inn has been a part of Rampart at least as long as dirt biking has. In the early days, the area was known better to the dirt bikers as Sprucewood, rather than Rampart. Did you know it was dirt bikers that originally created the maps used by the Forest Service for the area? Check out Tom Strongman's 1972 Cycle World article called Sprucewood Paradise to read about what a chore it was back when gas was a mere 40 cents a gallon. Photos are included.
We all know that dirt bikers are a great bunch of folks, always willing to help out when needed. You can also read about how some of the founding members of the RRMMC saved the day when a woman became lost in the Rampart area back in 1973. Thanks to the quick response of the bikers, she was found and returned safely.
In 1984, Robert Schleicher did an article about Rampart Range and the Rampart Range Motorcycle Management Committee for the November issue of Dirt Rider Magazine. We've included a reproduction of that article here so you can see what things were like back when ATV meant 3-wheels and bikes still ruled the trails. He gives descriptions of some of the trails that have since been lost, but it also shows how many of the concerns were the same back then as they are now. Complete with a couple of photos.
Buried Treasure: There is a legend that a fortune in gold may be hidden somewhere between the town of Deckers and Devil’s Head. The story goes that train robbers in the early 1870s stopped the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in Pike National Forest near Deckers. They robbed the train of $60,000 worth of gold, but when a pursuing posse got too close, they buried the gold near Devil’s Head, marking a tree to remind them of the spot. Decades later, a forest fire swept the area, removing all traces of their marked tree. As far as anyone knows, the gold may still be buried there. It would be worth millions today!
Bigfoot: Several reported sightings of "bigfoot" have been reported in the Pike National Forest over the years. While there hasn't been enough convincing evidence to prove these claims, they do make for interesting campfire stories. Reports start in the early 80's and continue as recently as October of 2005. Check out the In The News page for links to some of the accounts.
If anyone has some reasonably accurate information or stories about how dirt
biking started at Rampart, historical events in the area, famous locations, or
just plain interesting stories, send it in to us. If it looks reasonable we'll
post it here. We reserve the right to edit or reject any submissions completely
at our discretion.
Here some pictures of dirt bike activity from days-gone-by at Rampart. Things have changed a bit over the years. Gotta love that one of Powerline as single track! Those were the days. Hover your mouse over the photos for descriptions.
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