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The Alpine Loop

Alpine LoopThe Alpine Loop was a natural for this recognition and was one of the BLM's first Backcountry Byways. This 65-mile route between Lake City, Silverton and Ouray was first built by miners in the late 1800's for mule wagons hauling equipment and ore across the Mountains. Today you can follow their tracks.

The Alpine Loop gives visitors an intimate glimpse of outstanding San Juan Mountain scenery, ghost towns, wildflower displays, fall colors and much more. Most of the route is accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles, but four-wheel-drive is necessary for some side trips, and to cross the high passes.  Of course, the centerpiece of the area is the Alpine Loop National Backcountry Byway. Look for the blue columbine signs that indicate the route. Your trip can be started from Lake City, Silverton or Ouray. Signs indicate where four-wheel drive is recommended. Along the way you can see displays for beautiful wildflowers (peaking in late July and early August), historic remnants of mining activities from the late 1800's and blazing shows of fall colors (around mid-September). Side roads along the way will let you explore Cottonwood Creek, American Basin, Nellie Creek, North Henson Creek, California Gulch, Picayune Gulch, Eureka Gulch, Minnie Gulch, Maggie Gulch and Stony Pass as well as the ghost towns of Animas Forks, Carson, Sherman, Mineral Point, Capitol City and others.