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10 Best ATV Trails In Colorado

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ATV Colorado: 10 Best ATV Trails In Colorado

Black Bear Pass

  • Location: Telluride CO
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 8.5 miles
  • Usage: Heavy
  • Season: Late July – fall
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles. Short wheel base recommended.

After a short ascent, this trail peaks at Black Bear Pass with an elevation of 12,840 ft. It’s at this point where the excitement begins. The stunning descent includes switchbacks, technical “rock steps” and steep drop offs.

Amazing views in all directions including a close up view of Bridal Veil Fall, the highest waterfall in Colorado.

Due to it’s high elevation, this high mountain Forest Service Road has a very short window for riding – from late summer – fall, depending on snowfall. Typically it opens in late July.

As this trail descends into Telluride, it becomes a one way only road. Telluride does not allow ATVs on city streets, so if you intend to do this entire ride you will have to arrange a trailer shuttle.

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This is not a trail for inexperienced riders or people with a fear of heights.



Webster Pass/Red Cone – Montezuma Colorado

  • Location: Montezuma CO
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 20 miles
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Season: Late July – fall. Closed to motorized traffic Nov. 23 thru May 20
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles.

This trail is not for beginners or the feint of heart. It’s not technical, but there are steep drop offs.

Even though it’s located right outside the popular ski town of Keystone Colorado, this trail isn’t over run with tourists like some of the more popular ones.

At about 20 miles, this trail is short, but it’s slow going so it will take several hours. This intense ride traverses the spine of Red Cone with sheer drops on both sides. You’ll be driving well above the tree line with mountain views stretching for miles in all directions.

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You might even get lucky and see some of the many mountain goats who roam this range.

Here’s a short little write up with some pictures to get a feel for the area

ATV Trails: Red Cone



Tellurium Creek

  • Location: Taylor Park CO
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 12.4 miles
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Season: Late July – fall.
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles. Recommend short wheel base / high clearance if 4 x 4.

This is one of the premier rides of Taylor Park, a popular ATV riding area near Crested Butte.

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This region includes Gunnison National Forest, Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, Fossil Ridge Wilderness, West Elk Wilderness and Raggeds Wilderness. To say this area is surrounded by natural beauty is a bit of an understatement.

This is a popular off roading destination with some of the best ATV Trails In Colorado. But, in addition to all the great trails, you’ll also find many other outdoor recreation opportunities such as fishing, camping, hiking, wildlife viewing and photography.

Expect to get wet on this ride as you cross through Tellurium creek several times at the beginning of this trail. For the most part, the crossings are shallow and manageable, but you should use extra caution after rain storms.

At the lower elevation, you’re riding through the trees while passing though lovely meadows as you gradually make your way above the tree line for 360 degree views.

This trail is wide and easy to navigate, but there are some steep sections with drop offs, loose rocks and tight switchbacks.

FunTreks Free GPS Way Points: Tellurium Creek

ATV Trails Website: Taylor Park



Hancock Pass, Cumberland Pass and Tincup Pass

  • Location:  St. Elmo CO
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 44 miles
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Season: Late July – fall.
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles. Short wheel base & high clearance.

This ride combines 3 well known trails in the Taylor Park area into one epic ride. You start and end in St. Elmo. This ride combines Hancock Pass Road 295, Cumberland Pass Road 765 and Tincup Pass Road 267.

Travel three mountain passes over 12,000 feet high on this high alpine loop trail. You’ll be driving through Colorado’s history as you visit several old mining towns and the ghost towns of Tincup and Hancock.

You get a lot of bang for your buck with this ride. Stunning views as you pass through green lush meadows, rolling hills, plentiful pines, sharp mountain peaks, high alpine tundra and the small, but lovely Mirror Lake. 

ATV Trails Website: Taylor Park

FunTreks Free GPS Way Points: Hancock Pass Cumberland PassTincup Pass

I’m not affiliated with FunTreks, but they have one of the best Colorado ATV trail guides available. It includes Hancock Pass, Cumberland Pass and Tincup Pass, plus additional Taylor Park area trails and many of the best ATV trails in Colorado.



Schofield Pass

  • Location: Crested Butte CO
  • Skill Level: Extreme
  • Distance: 6 miles (one way)
  • Usage: Heavy
  • Season: Late July – fall. In heavy snow years, trail may not fully open.
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles.

I’m of two minds for including Schofield Pass in this ‘Best ATV Trails In Colorado’ collection.

On the one hand, it’s an extremely dangerous trail. It should not be attempted on a whim or by anyone without a lot of previous experience. But on the other hand, it is frequently traveled safely without incident. Plus, it is the most ultimate type of trail in every sense – dangerous, technical and extremely beautiful, so I’m including it.  

This guy fell on the trail, but got extremely lucky and lived to tell the tale.

Avoid this trail on weekends and holidays to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Riding though narrow, steep canyons, you’ll view several small lovely waterfalls that eventually end at a deep pool of water – this area is referred to as The Devil’s Punch Bowl. Along the way you’ll be surrounded by the soaring peaks of the Elk Range.





Alpine Loop

  • Location: Silverton CO
  • Skill Level: Easy/Moderate (rock shelves, drop offs)
  • Distance: 65 mile loop
  • Usage: Heavy
  • Season: Mid summer – fall.
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles.

This is probably the most popular ATV Tours In Colorado, which also makes it one of the busiest. To avoid the worst of the crowds don’t ride on weekends or holidays. Even better, go late October if you don’t mind a bit of chill in the air and the potential for an early snow.

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful drives in the US, this road takes you through the Rocky Mountains over two mountain passes – Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass, both 12,000+ feet high.

This is a dirt road well traveled by Jeeps, ATVs, SUVs and motorbikes. Even though a couple small sections of this ride are on roads, ATVs and other unlicensed vehicles will still be able to complete the entire route. Both Silverton and Lake City have passed laws that allow unlicensed vehicles on certain sections of town roads to provide access to the loop.

In addition to the Alpine Loop, there are also many other trails and smaller loops in this area that you can connect giving you lots of riding options. With some of the best ATV trails in Colorado, this is a great area for an ATV riding vacation.

Silverton and Lake City are both ATV friendly and allow ATVs/SUVs on their streets. In Silverton you’ll find OHV routes clearly marked with blue OHV route signs allowing you to easily navigate town and access the Alpine Loop.

Lake City Website: The Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway

For more information on the Alpine Loop, check out: Exploring The Alpine Loop – ATV Colorado



Yankee Boy Basin

  • Location: Ouray CO
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 9.4 miles (out and back)
  • Usage: Heavy
  • Season: Road open May 1 to Nov. 11. The upper portion doesn’t fully open until the snow clears and is blocked with a gate. 
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles.  

Ouray bills itself as the Switzerland of America. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, this region is rich in natural beauty. Lucky for off roaders, there are also many areas that allow ATVs and SUVs.

Due to it’s proximity to the touristy town of Ouray and it’s pure natural beauty, Yankee Boy Basin sees a good amount of traffic, so you won’t have it all to yourself. It’s also a popular tour option with the local commercial Jeep tours.

This trail starts out fairly easy, but becomes increasingly difficult as it progresses. As the road continues, it becomes rocky and narrow with steep drop offs. Very scary and not for the feint of heart.

You’ll ride past steep canyons with waterfalls flowing over their sides deep into a high alpine basin surrounded by the Sneffels Mountain Range with several peaks over 13,000 feet.

Go when the mountain flowers are in bloom and prepared to be wowed. You’ll see Bluebells, Larkspur, Wild Iris, Columbine, Paintbrush and many more native wild flowers. The best time to experience the bloom is mid-July through early August.

See why this is one of the most photographed areas of Colorado.



Flat Tops – Wagon Wheel Trails

  • Location: Meeker CO
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 50 miles
  • Usage: Light
  • Season: late spring – fall. Some sections may remain closed into June for elk calving.
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles.

Colorado is all about the mountains, but that’s not all it has to offer in the way of natural beauty. Meeker Colorado is a large valley bordered by a long jagged cliff wall called the China Wall and surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. At just over 6,240 feet this high desert area is rich in natural beauty with plenty of great ATVing. It also lays claim to one of the largest elk herds in the US, so keep an eye out.

Meeker is an ATV friendly town and home of The Wagon Wheel Trails, offering some of the best ATV trails in Colorado. This off roading area has over 250 miles in Meeker with another 360+ miles in Rangely CO. This Colorado ATV trail system made it onto our 10 Best ATV Trails.

Rangely also hosts an annual ATV Event. Clickable link:

Pack a lunch. Flat Top is an all day advanced ride with some technical sections. Awesome views, wild life, lakes and wild flowers await you on this lollipop loop ride. You’ll be crossing a few small streams, so be careful after heavy rains.

The fact that this trail is advanced keeps a lot of people away. Combine that with a gruelling 1.5 hour trip to the trailhead and you’re getting a true wilderness experience.

If you’re looking for a challenge, hoping to avoid the crowds and get off the beaten path, this is the trail for you. (The ATV jamboree weekend will be busy though, so plan accordingly.)



Rollins Pass East

  • Location: Nederland CO
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Distance: 12.3 miles
  • Usage: Heavy
  • Season: late July – fall. Depends on snow.
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles.

I really wanted to include an easy route on this list to give everyone a chance at an epic ride. It’s true that most of the best rides are intermediate/difficult, but there are great beginner rides out there!

In days past, you used to be able to drive up one side of the mountain and down the other side, but this is no longer possible. Today the road is broken up into east and west. Rollins Pass East is easier. Rollins Pass West out of Winter Park CO is easy/intermediate.

This ATV trail is very rocky with lots of potholes, but not technical. There are some drop offs, but the road is wide enough, that it doesn’t feel scary or difficult.

ATV Colorado

This Colorado ATV trail will be of special interest for railroad enthusiasts. Rich in history, this road is a former railroad route. The original train tracks were built as part of the big push to open up the west and eventually make it easy to travel to California. Building this railroad route up and over the Rockies was a huge engineering feat.

At 11, 660 feet, at the top of Rollins Pass, it used to be a happening place with a railroad station, restaurant, hotel and workers quarters. Hard to believe all this was going on at the top of a mountain pass in the middle of nowhere. (This higher section of the pass can be reached on the Rollins Pass West trail, while this eastern route takes you up to just over 11,200 feet.)

Ride through forest and past two lovely small lakes as you make your way above the timberline where you are rewarded with views of Winter Park and the surrounding mountains.

Pick up a brochure from the visitors center on your way out of town, it will have points of interest and tell you about the area.

FunTreks Free GPS Way Points: Rollins Pass East

You’ll find both Rollins Pass East & West in the FunTreks Colorado ATV Trail Book



Elwood Pass

  • Location: Pagosa Springs CO
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Distance: 65 miles
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Season: Late July – fall.
  • Vehicles Allowed: 4×4, ATV, SxS, motorcycles.

This ride can be done as an all day trip with an early start. Better yet, plan it as an overnighter with a lodge stay – sleep in a comfortable bed and eat a hot restaurant meal.

Overall, this is a difficult route although parts of it are on fairly nice roads. There are several water crossings of the East Fork River early in the ride. These crossing should not be attempted in the spring or during heavy rains, but are passable in the summer.

You’ll face a lot of rough riding as you navigate the rocky sections on your way to the summit. You’ll pass a makeshift barrier erected at the site of an 2016 UTV fatality. This informal barrier is to keep people from choosing the same path that resulted in the accident.

Soak up the amazing views as you slow burn your way up 8,000 feet from Pagosa Springs to the summit. Once at the summit, hang a right to the remote mountain town of Platerno CO.

What could be better after a great day of riding than a hot shower, a comfortable bed and a home cooked meal (cooked by someone else!)

Check out: Sky Line Lodge

For a different kind of off road adventure, head to the sand: Colorado Sand Dunes ATV Area in Cowdrey, Colorado . To find more great places to ride in the US, check out 10 Best ATV Trails.


Featured photo by robert thigpen | Flickr

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