Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

If you live in or decide to visit the southwestern Colorado area, an amazing place to enjoy four wheeling fun is the Alpine Loop. There have been some reports of people trying to attempt the trail with two wheel drive or even rental cars. Alpine Loop is best experienced with an ATV, dirt bike, or properly equipped four-wheeler.

The Best Four-Wheeling in the US According to TripAdvisor

There are several books available that detail four-wheeling in the southwestern Colorado area. Off-road trail maps can give you a more precise account of the terrain. The descriptions along with the topographical information go a long way towards describing what you will encounter on Alpine Loop. Or check out for more detailed information about the trail
Photos give a better representation of the terrain. You can really get a perspective of the expanse of the mountains. The peaks and the valleys are unlike anything else in Colorado. In fact, you will be more likely to capture the moment with your own photos.

Lake City

The best way to experience the Alpine Loop is to get on the trail with your favorite four-wheel drive vehicle. Lake City is the easternmost point on the loop and is about 225 miles from Colorado Springs. This scenic byway is a 65-mile loop in the San Juan Mountains. The road is nationally recognized as a scenic byway because of the recreational amenities and the spectacular scenery. Starting in Lake City, head west to Capitol City. The terrain varies from maintained and graded dirt to rocks and boulders. You will go over Engineer Pass which is one of the highest and most challenging parts of the loop.


The route out to Ouray is an out and back. Otherwise, you can hop off the loop and travel by highway to Silverton. There is nothing wrong with seeing the beauty of the drive again. The scenery never gets boring. There is always something new to notice and to find.


On the way back from Silverton, there is the very beautiful Cinnamon Pass. This is not a very difficult mountain pass. It affords the four-wheel enthusiast an entirely different point of view. The trail is not as steep as other passes. This makes it easier for both passengers and operators to enjoy the view.

The trail slowly winds it way back to Lake City. It is several more hours of vistas and terrain to handle. Some of the climbs and descents are steep. Four-wheel low is not always a necessity under most conditions. Depending on the time of year, parts of the trail may be washed away from runoff. In the springtime, there will be mud.

Alpine Loop is a beautiful national and Colorado Scenic Byway in the southwest San Juan Mountains. The Loop can be done in about 7 hours with a properly equipped four-wheeler. Motor bikes and ATV can make the trip faster. Many people like to take their time. There are campsites along the route which makes it easy to stop to stop and take in a hike at one of the many trailheads. Alpine Loop is perfect for both novice and the experienced four-wheeler.