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BLM>Colorado>Programs>Recreation>Recreation Areas>Byways and National Trails>Alpine Loop
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Recreation Areas

Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway
Unpaved road with yellowing aspens

The mountains of the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway are complimented by stunning alpine lakes. Trails along the Byway are excellent for horseback riding, with plenty of opportunities for skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Running through the San Juan Mountains, Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass offer views of towering mountain peaks. The Alpine Loop passes through Alpine Triangle Recreation Area, which features three fourteeners, and Silverton Recreation Area, where mining ruins like Animas Forks townsite illustrate a historical search for invaluable metal resources. Four-wheel drive is an excellent way to explore this Byway, and is necessary to complete the entire route.

Total Length:  65 miles

  • Byway
  • Fishing
  • Heritage tourism
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Off-highway vehicles
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Winter sports
  • 4x4 and jeep touring

Attractions, Facilities, & Services:
  • Animas Forks townsite
  • Historic tours
  • Interpretive exhibits
  • Four-wheel drive rentals and tours
  • Fourteeners
  • Campgrounds
  • Restrooms
  • Both paved and unpaved roads
  • Four-wheel drive is necessary in
    certain locations
  • Available in Lake City, Ouray, Silverton and Telluride: lodging, restaurants
    and shops

Directions:  To follow the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway, begin in Ouray and travel south on US-550. Turn left onto County Road 18, which will eventually become County Road 17 and then County Road 2. Turn right onto County Road 20. At Lake City, turn right onto 1st Street, then turn right onto South Gunnison Avenue. Turn right onto County Road 30, which will eventually become County Road 5. Turn left onto County Road 2 and continue until reaching Silverton, where the Byway ends.

Additional Information:

About the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway

Horseback riding


Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway brochure