How to Overland Colorado: The Best Trails & Routes

If you’re dreaming of traversing Colorado’s most stunning alpine passes and scenic byways—you’re not alone.

Whether you’re looking to rent an off-road vehicle or you already have one that’s decked out with all of the best overlanding gear, Colorado has endless trails for all skill levels.

The Best Colorado Overland Trails

Colorado has thousands of miles of world-class overlanding trails to explore, so here are our favorites for each region of the Centennial State.

Taylor Lake Via Aspen Mountain Summer Road to Richmond Hill Road

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Miles: 36.1
Elevation Gain: 8,106 feet
Average Completion Time: 20.1 hours

This stunning OHV trail from Aspen Mountain to Richmond Hill Road is 36.1 miles of mountain passes and obstacles. This route is quite long and difficult. It takes most people 20 hours to complete.

This trail gains over 8,000 feet of elevation and encountering snow is likely in the earlier months of the year.

Montezuma Basin

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Miles: 8.8
Elevation Gain: 2,834 feet
Average Completion Time: 5.31 hours

Montezuma Basin Trail is a popular OHV trail near Aspen, Colorado. This trail features a creek and plenty of stunning waterfalls in the earlier months of summer. This trail is considered a challenging trail and can get quite steep in areas.

Crested Butte & Gunnison

These are our top OHV trails near Crested Butte and Gunnison:

Smith Mountain Jeep Trail To South River Road

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Miles: 12.6
Elevation Gain: 1,313 feet
Average Completion Time: 2.5 hours

The Smith Mountain Jeep Trail is an adventure that starts in the Gunnison Gorge and meets up with South River road. This trail is a 12 mile loop that features spectacular views of Colorado’s Gunnison Gorge.

This area has several different trails and dirt roads, so it’s important to keep a map handy to help you navigate the trail system.

Pearl Pass

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Miles: 14.2
Elevation Gain: 3,705 feet
Average Completion Time: 5-6 hours

Pearl Pass is a historic trail that connects Crested Butte with Aspen and crosses the Continental Divide. This stunning trail features stunning alpine views and traverses through backcountry Aspen groves.

August and September are the best times to visit this trail since snow is so prevalent in this high elevation area. There are plenty of other trails in this area and several campsites if you want to make it an overnight excursion.

Durango & Silverton

These are some of our top picks for off-roading trails near Durango and Silverton:

Old Lime Creek Road

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Miles: 5.8
Elevation Gain: 685 feet
Average Completion Time: 2-3 hours

If you’re a thrill seeker looking to test your off-road driving skills, Old Lime Creek Road is sure to keep you on your toes! This trail leads to Beaver Creek and features narrow trails, steep drop offs, and no turn around spots.

This trail isn’t for the faint of heart, but the views make it totally worth the trek!

Buena Vista To Tincup Trail

Miles: 32.1
Elevation Gain: 4,711 feet
Average Completion Time: 16.6 hours

The Buena Vista Trail to Tincup Trail is located between Durango and Denver, and is the perfect multi-night overlanding trip. The trail features plenty of boulders and fun obstacles to traverse on your way to Mirror Lake—which is a fantastic fishing spot.

Glenwood Springs & Carbondale

Here are the best overlanding trails near Glenwood Springs and Carbondale:

Transfer Trail Road

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Miles: 16.7
Elevation Gain: 5,587 Feet
Average Completion Time: 10.5 hours

Transfer Trail Road features stunning views of Glenwood Springs from the Windy Point overlook. This trail is best for an overnight trip and requires some technical skill to traverse some of the more narrow points of the trail.

This trail is a higher elevation trail and is only open from May 20th to November 23rd.

Telluride & Ouray

This region of Colorado features some of the most iconic OHV trails in the country. Here are our top trails you should add to your list:

Scenic Alpine Loop

Miles: 65
Elevation Gain: 8,891 feet
Average Completion Time: 5-7 hours

If you’re looking for the ultimate multi-day excursion, the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway should make its way to the top of your list. This scenic byway is accurately named the Switzerland of America and traverses 65 miles of awe inspiring views of the San Juan Mountain range.

You’ll cross both Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass, and you’ll also see several ghost towns, abandoned mines, and hot springs!  There are several historic Hot Springs in Ouray including

This long trail connects Silverton, Ophir, Telluride, Ouray, and Lake City, and requires a highly capable off-roading vehicle to tackle this once-in-a-lifetime trip. The earliest this trail becomes accessible is late June because of the snow.

Black Bear Pass

Miles: 8.5
Elevation Gain: 1,843 feet
Average Completion Time: 5.5 hours

Black Bear pass is another iconic trail in Colorado that features historic mines, dramatic waterfalls, and some treacherous switchbacks. You’ll enjoy incredible views from the top of Red Mountain pass, and enjoy the majesty of the 365 foot Bridal Veil Falls waterfall.

Vail & Beaver Creek

Red and White Mountain

Miles: 17.7
Elevation Gain: 2,457 feet
Average Completion Time: 8 hours

Red and White Mountain OHV trail is a stunning trail just outside of Veil. This trail is a moderately rated trail that requires a little bit of experience and a decent off-road vehicle. You’ll follow the Red and White Mountain ridgeline and see stunning meadows and dramatic peaks.

This trail is part of a collection of trails in the area and is clearly marked along the route.

Beaver Creek Trail

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Miles: 34.4
Elevation Gain: 3,162 feet
Average Completion Time: 3-4 hours

Beaver Creek trail is accurately nicknamed “Muddy Creek” and getting dirty is unavoidable. This trail is quite easy to navigate and is a fun fast paced adventure. You’ll start in Sulphur Springs and end in Parshall.

Be sure to use the buddy system and bring a winch as you’re likely to get stuck in some of the muddy areas.

Steamboat Springs

Here is our favorite trail in the Steamboat Springs area:

Big Stick and Buffalo Ride

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Miles: 15.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,630 feet
Average Completion Time: 7.5 hours

Big Stick to Buffalo Ride trail is a fun, easy, and stunning trek right outside of Steamboat Springs. You’ll enjoy stunning mountain landscapes, gorgeous meadows, and plenty of places to spend the night if you wish.

Colorado Overlanding Tips

Colorado is truly home to some of the most incredible outdoor adventures in the county. However, it is worthwhile to note that you should always be prepared when heading into the backcountry.

Always ensure you have plenty of water, fuel, and have gone over your overlanding checklist. Even if you don’t plan on spending the night, you should always have plenty of food, warm layers, and recovery gear just in case.  This link also has some great tip for Overlanding Colorado.

Here are a few Ideas for Places and routes to consider when overlanding Colorado.  Rocky Mt. National Park is one of Colorado’s most popular Parks, and for a good reason.  The park has a lot to offer in either Summer or Winter.  This has some ideas for a winter trip to the park.

For those that have booked a longer rental, this itinerary includes central and southern Colorado along with the Moab area.  The itinerary would be perfect for a 10 night to 2 week trip.

Another popular activity when overlanding Colorado is visiting our amazing and therapeutic Hot Springs.  Orvis Hot Springs is a clothing optional historic Hot Springs in Ridgway, Colorado.

We hope these tips and itineraries help guide you well while overlanding the Beautiful state of Colorado and other surrounding states!