HomeTrailsExploring The Alpine Loop - ATV Colorado

Exploring The Alpine Loop – ATV Colorado

ATV The Alpine Loop

  • Length: 65 mile loop
  • Drive Time: 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty: Overall Easy / Moderate In Sections (rock outcroppings, drop offs)
  • Access: Easy
  • ATV Friendly Town: Lake City
  • Ideal Riding Season: Mid Summer – September

Notes: The Alpine Loop can be done by SxS and ATVs.

Lake City has passed a pilot program to allow OHVs on a 3.26 mile stretch of Hwy 149. This pilot program is currently in effect “seasonally in 2021, 2022, and 2023, from the Friday before Memorial Day through September 30 of each year”.

I don’t feel confident that this will continue past 2023, but hopefully I’m wrong.

As of October 2021, Silverton changed it’s laws. OHVs are now banned within city limits. You can no longer easily ride out from town.

See the Forest Service Brochure button below for a good overview map.

One of The Most Stunning Drives In The US

This ride should definitely be on your bucket list. Although not technically an “ATV trail”, this remote dirt road loop is open to ATVs/SUVs. It’s so amazing that we’ve included it in ATV Colorado: 10 Best ATV Trails In Colorado.

The Alpine Loop passes through the sweeping Rocky Mountains through two mountain passes – Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass, both 12,000+ feet high.

In between the mountain passes you’ll experience some of the most amazing views – mountains, meadows, waterfalls, lakes and wildlife.

This 63 mile dirt road loop takes you from Ouray or Silverton to Lake City.

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This is a very popular dirt road – Jeeps, 4x4s and ATVs all use this road so don’t expect to have it all to yourself.

To avoid the big crowds go in late September when the kids are heading back to school and summer vacations are mostly over.

The speed limit is 15 miles an hour, so allow 5 – 7 hours for a leisurely ride. In addition to the Alpine Loop, there are also plenty of miles of other smaller ATV loops and detours connected to the main loop.

Plan for a couple nights in the area for a more relaxed ride with time to soak up the scenery and explore the history of Colorado.

Lake City is the only ATV friendly town on the loop. Ouray is not ATV friendly, it does not allow ATVs within the city limits.

Silverton used to be ATV friendly, but they changed the law on October 12th, 2021. Now, there is a ban on “OHVs on all streets, alleys, and rights-of-ways within town limits”.

Silverton is no longer ATV friendly.

To find more great rides in Colorado check out:

10 Best UTV Trails In Colorado

  • Colorado residents are required to register their OHVs with Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Colorado residents with plated vehicles (offroad and street legal, including motorcycles) must purchase a permit
  • Non-residents are not required to register their out of state OHVs in Colorado
  • Non-residents must purchase a non-resident OHV permit (whether or not you chose to register)
  • All operators must carry proof of insurance
  • Children < 10 years old can’t operate OHVs on public roads.
  • OHV operators between 10 and 16 must be under the direct visual supervision of a person with a valid driver’s license
  • OHV sound limits must be met:
    • 99 dB(A) if manufactured before 1/1/1998
    • 96 dB(A) if manufactured after 1/1/1998

Abandoned cabin in Animas Forks ghost town on the Alpine loop

Links To Help You Plan Your Trip

Forest Service Brochure: Alpine Loop (with a nice overview map)

Silverton OHV / ATV Rules

Lake City OHV Routes (covers the pilot program)

Colorado Scenic Byway: Alpine Loop

Colorado has lots to offer when it comes to off roading. There is an off roading sand dune area, North Sand Hills in Cowdrey, Colorado.

Other great riding areas including Pagosa Springs and the Wagon Wheel Trail System in Meeker and Rangely Colorado which made our 10 Best ATV Trails.

There are several popular ATV Jamborees:

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Feature Image By robert thigpen | Flickr

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