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Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

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General Information

Description - The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway leads west out of Lake City on Engineer Pass Road, which is labeled as a four-wheel drive road by the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway Commission. This road follows Hanson Creek and provides numerous access points to the southeastern portions of the Uncompahgre Wilderness.

This scenic byway passes seven ghost towns. On Engineer Pass Road (BLM Road 3300) you'll pass the first of these, Capitol City, as the road turns southward and heads into the mine-laden country north of Silverton. Within this mining region are several four-wheel drive roads leading to the various mines. Many of these exist on private land and may not be open for public use. The route continues over Engineer Pass then follows BLM Road 4502 to Forest Road 878. This road leads northwest to Highway 550 and Ouray.

An alternate path to the one described above is to follow Cinnamon Pass Road. To reach this road from Lake City follow Highway 149 south to the turn off for Lake San Cristobal. This is Cinnamon Pass Road and may also be marked as BLM Road 3306. Turn right on to this road. It will become a four-wheel drive road in 15 miles. On this road you'll pass Sherman and Whitehorse ghost towns, before crossing Cinnamon Pass. Within a few miles of crossing the pass Cinnamon Pass Road intersects with Highway 110. This leads north to Ouray and more four-wheeling or south to Silverton.

Recreation - This scenic byway leads through the Uncompahgre and Rio Grande National Forests. Recreation opportunities abound in the surrounding terrain. Boating, fishing, camping, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking and viewing historic sites are a few of the activities, in which visitors to the region can participate.

Climate - This scenic byway passes through Colorado's high country. It is open during the summer and fall months only. When recreating in this region be prepared for precipitation, cold rain or snow, at any time of the year. Bring extra food, clothing and gas on this ride.

Location - This scenic byway is located in the southwestern section of the state. It leads west from Lake City, along Cinnamon and Engineer Pass Roads, to Silverton and Ouray.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Bonnie
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: We went up this byway with a gmc sierra pickup with a bike rack on back. Our vehicle is more than capable of handling rough roads, but what got us was the length of our vehicle. We did not see any warnings except no motorhomes or trailers. We made it to the American Basin area when we ran across a couple of ATVs and they told us that we would never make it through the pass. It was definitely beautiful, but very dangerous. A couple of times, I got out and just walked. My husband loved it, but I was scared to death.

Filed By: Jim Warfield
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: We were tourist from The United Kingdom. We had all the Colorado state tourist board info. The “Engineer Pass” route is listed as a “Scenic By Way” of great natural beauty etc. We had a Ford Explorer, which to us is a 4 wheel drive vehicle, we were told later that this is an SUV. We made it all the way over until 100 yards from the Ouray high way, where we bottomed out, and got stuck on a big rock. A tow truck got us on to the high way with out any damage. This was just me and my wife. We never knew that adrenalin can come in so many different shades of brown. There should be more adequate warnings of what type of vehicle should and can ONLY be used on these type of “Scenic By Ways”. We did see people at the top in “Jeeps”, but nobody warned us or told us to turn back. Apart form this interlude we had an excellent 2 week vacation in Colorado, which will never be forgotten.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Great trip. Rented a jeep and they suggested that we avoid the section from Engineer Pass to Ouray and take Corkscrew Gulch road from Animas Forks to Ouray instead. Glad we did as it contained the most beautiful scenery on the whole loop.

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: this is a great trail for atv's...need to be able to go from engineer pass to cinnmon pass with the atv's....lake city does not like atv's in their city...both passes are well worth the riding...only colorado has such great scenary.....

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Alpine loop is one of most spectacular drives in America. The road coming down from the Engineer Pass to Ouray was especially challenging. We spotted a Honda Civic sedan, with a New York State license plate, trying to get through??? It was an amazing sight, but the Honda was having a difficult time traversing some huge pot holes! A definite stop is American Gulch between Cinnamon Pass and Lake City. It has some of the best wild flowers that I have ever since in my life. Columbines were everywhere with a snow-capped mountain in the background. It was surreal, and it is like a picture-perfect postcard! High cleance 4X4 vehicle is definitely necessary for enjoying this loop. The trip was done on July of 2000. Buena vista!

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More Information

Contact Information:
BLM-Gunnison Resource Area, 216 N. Colorado , Gunnison, CO, 81230, Phone: 970-641-0471

Additional Information:
Colorado Scenic Byways - Driving through Colorado can be some of the most rewarding driving possible. The scenic byways deserve their name and are definitely worth the detour.

Scenic Byways Homepage - National Scenic Byways official web site with detailed info on all national and state byways.


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