Length: 65.0 mi / 104.6 km
Time to Allow: Allow 1-2 days to enjoy the byway.
Restrictions: Portions of this byway may require a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
The Alpine Loop leaves pavement and people behind, crossing the remote, rugged, spectacular heart of the San Juan Mountains. Created by the forces of nature, these mountains, valleys, streams, and lakes now offer visitors the chance to explore the wild back country of Colorado. If height is what you are looking for, the Alpine Loop has hiking trails that access five of Colorado's "fourteener&" peaks (14,000 feet or more) and Cinnamon and Engineer pass both demand a high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle to climb over the 12,000 plus foot passes. Pristine mountain views, hiking and biking trails, great camping opportunities, and ample solitude are some of the rewards for taking the road less traveled.
Early Trails and People
The trails that visitors enjoy today were developed by early travelers to the area. Native American Indians came to the area to hunt and gather food. In the late 1800s miners created a network of roads in their quest for silver, gold, lead, and zinc. The towns they established are abandoned now, but some buildings remain for visitors to see.
Nestled deep in the San Juan Mountains, the Alpine Loop Back Country Byway is an expedition in and of itself. Far from the hassles and routine of the outside world, the Alpine Loop traverses 65 miles of Colorado’s remarkable mountain terrain. Enter a world of towering pine trees, glistening lakes, and fresh mountain air: a combination guaranteed to bring out your inner explorer.