If you have ever wanted to feel as if you’ve journeyed back in time, there are a handful of historic trails in Colorado allow you to, quite literally (four-wheel) drive in the footsteps of history. Colorado offers many beautiful off-roading experiences where you can encounter skeletons of old mining towns and mills that once promised great hope and prosperity but have since been left to decay.
These ghost towns are now popular spots for off-roading enthusiasts and strike the perfect balance between eery, exciting, and just plain fun!
Here are 5 of our favorite historic off roading spots for you to try out this summer or fall.
1. Wagon Wheel Trail System
With more than 250 miles of trails (no, that was not a typo), Wagon Wheel 13 primary and interconnected trails are nestled cozily in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Spanning a vast tract of land and offering varying terrains and difficulty levels, there’s plenty to see, do, and drive throughout the Wagon Wheel System.
If you’re up for a more challenging day, you can head over to the Fawn Creek to Dead Horse Loop for a 4WD adventure that will have you climbing steep rocky trails and carefully navigating the narrow peaks and climbs.
Or, if you’re wanting to spend your day in a more relaxing manner, Wagon Wheel offers a plethora of jaw dropping panoramic views that are easily accessible by foot or vehicle. No matter what you want to do, the Wagon Wheel trail system will surely provide it.
2. Alpine Scenic Loop and Historic Byway
Few locations are more breathtaking or classic to Colorado than the Alpine Scenic Loop and Historic Byway. While there are plenty of sections of the loop’s 63 miles of trails that don’t require an offroad vehicle, if you plan to see it all and truly experience the Alpine Loop in all of its beauty… a 4×4 is a must.
Whether you’re looking for the rugged trails and rocky climbs offered this scenic loop or the eerie silence of the ghost towns and ruins, there’s an abundance of things to do, see, and experience in this iconic Colorado area.
3. The ‘Switzerland of America’
Affectionately referred to as “The Switzerland of America”, Ouray is a unique and alarmingly beautiful mountain town nestled in the San Juan Mountains of western Colorado is nearly a 6 hour drive from Denver, but we promise… It’s well worth it.
With an abundance of activities in which you can partake, from the natural hot springs, to a quaint town filled with shopping and dining, and, the main event, stunning off road trails and spine chilling ghost towns that will pass by some of the most scenic and iconic views in the entire state, Oura is the perfect day trip for you, your family, and… well everyone really.
Oh, and if you’re an experienced rider, you can enjoy the thrill of the heart-stopping and breathtaking alpine trail to Telluride passing by the spectacular Bridal Veil Falls. But be prepared if you do, the roads are extremely narrow and challenging and a short wheel base vehicle is ideal.
4. Grand Mesa Trails
Off I-70 about 5 hours from Denver, you’ll arrive at one of the most pristine and enjoyable off roading trails in all of Colorado. Despite the forest’s Misnomer (Grand Mesa is anything but a ‘Big table’) the 150 miles of National Forest and exhilarating off road trails will guarantee an adventurous day trip.
Featuring a wide variety of terrains and trail types from grassy hills to mud holes to treacherous rocky climbs, the park caters to riders of all skill levels and rewards the more experienced individuals with expansive views that earned Grand Mesa it’s even grander reputation.
5. Mount Baldy Trail
Nestled just southwest of Colorado Springs, Mount Baldy, so-called because of its uncapped peak provides hikers, off roaders, and adventurers of all stripes one of the most stunning and breathtaking views in the area. While the trail system caters to the novice drivers, depending on which trail you select, you may be faced with some challenging terrain and rocky peaks so be sure that you know what you’re up against before attempting a new trail.
As always be sure to do your own research to find the trails that you think are most suited to your desires, equipment and skill level. Be sure to exercise caution and follow all standard safety procedures before heading out on your own. These are some of our favorites… what are yours? Let us know in the comments!