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The Alpine Loop National Back Country Byway is a wild piece of beautiful Colorado land, with some of the best views of the Rocky Mountains there is to be seen. Enjoy roughing it on these partial dirt roads to access pristine mountains, lakes, streams, and trails that are less discovered by travelers. View this incredible area that has been home to ancient Native Americans and more recently miners and pioneers who have left behind relics and ghost towns.

65 miles between the towns of Lake City, Ouray, and Silverton.

Key Attractions

  • Many rivers, streams, and lakes – abundant fishing of rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout

  • Abundant hiking – five peaks that are over 14,000 feet in elevation – trails right off the byway

  • Mountain biking on the Alpine Loop provides challenging, multi-day opportunities

  • Snowmobiling and skiing during the winter months

  • Rich history and remains of mines and ghost towns from the 1800’s - sites and structures remain from the Gold Rush era and mineral miners

  • Colorful alpine wildflowers in late summer and colorful tress during early fall

  • Mountains shaped by powerful geologic forces – volcanoes, glaciers, wind and rain


  • Located in southwest quadrant of the state of Colorado

  • Located about 255 miles southwest of Denver, CO (to Lake City) and about 40 miles south of Montrose, CO (to Ouray)

  • Travelers can start their journey in Ouray, Lake City, or Silverton and follow the mostly circular byway in either direction

  • The Alpine Loop joins up with the San Juan Skyway (between Ouray and Silverton) and the Silver Thread Byway (near Lake City)

  • View a map, to see which sections are appropriate for 4-wheel drive and 2-wheel drive vehicles

  • This is a back country byway – 4-wheel drive required on dirt or gravel roads (about two thirds of the byway is a dirt road that is suitable for a 2-wheel drive vehicle)

  • Open for driving from around late-May to late-October

  • Three campgrounds, a picnic area, and 10 restrooms along the byway – visitor information centers, motels/hotels/resorts, RV sites, restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations are located along this byway

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