Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

  • Geographic Region(s):
  • Trip Length: 5 - 7 Days

The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway is known as one of the most beautiful in Colorado. Several ghost towns and abandoned mines are on this route.

Day 1: Leave Golden Colorado for Lake City, Colorado. This is a 4 hour and 45-minute drive with plenty to see and do along the way.

2 hours and 25 minutes into your drive you will arrive in the historic town of Salida, Colorado.

Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, Salida will blow you away visually with the 14,000 ft. peaks nearby. The area is famous for having tons of outdoor activities including rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, fishing as well as hot springs for rest and relaxation. There are many fun things to do in and around Salida, so if you choose to stick around, there are plenty of campgrounds to stay at.

Salida – Things To Do
Captain Zipline Adventures – Yelp Reviews
1500 County Road 45
Salida, Colorado 81201
(877) ZIP-LINE

Soar over a rugged canyon and explore the majestic Rocky Mountains on Colorado’s first World-Class Zipline Tour, challenge yourself on Colorado’s largest Aerial Course, or test your climbing prowess and scale the cliffs on the Via Ferrata.

River RunnersYelp Reviews
24070 County Road 301
Buena Vista, Colorado 81211
(800) 723-8987

Raft Class III-IV rapids on the Arkansas River through Browns Canyon 19 miles North of Salida in Buena Vista, Colorado.

Mountain Biking Trails
Arkansas Trail System Map
Methodist Mountain Trail System
Salida Mountain Trails Interactive Map

Hiking Trails
Agnes Vaille Falls Trail
Stavation Creek Trail
North Cottonwood Trail
Horn Fork Basin
Kroenke Lake
Rainbow Trail

Hot Springs
Salida Hot Springs

Four Seasons RV Park
Heart of the Rockies RV & Tent Campground
Monarch Spur RV Park
Rocky Mountain Recreation Co.

Day 2: From Salida, head to Gunnison, Colorado. This is a 1 hour and 15-minute drive.

Gunnison, Colorado is a place that harkens back to the Old West. The community retains its ties to a century of ranching with its wide-open spaces, friendly folks, and Cattlemen’s Days, one of the oldest rodeos in Colorado. Its location offers easy access to the largest body of water in the state at Blue Mesa Reservoir. Whether it is waterskiing, sailing, fly fishing, or camping with the family, Gunnison provides the perfect recreational and western get-away.

Gunnison – Things To Do
Scenic River ToursYelp Reviews
703 West Tomichi Avenue
Gunnison, Colorado 81230
(970) 641-3131

The Gunnison River headwaters start in the highest reaches of the county with the same name, cascading down from the mountains and finding its’ way to the Blue Mesa Reservoir – the largest body of water in the State of Colorado. The Upper Gunnison flows through green pastures and groves of cottonwood trees, at one point cruising by ancient volcanic rock formations soaring straight out of the river high into the sky.

Mountain Biking Trails
Hartman Rocks Recreational Area

Hiking Trails
Hartman Rocks Recreational Area

Motorcycling Trails
Hartman Rocks Recreational Area

Rock Climbing
Hartman Rocks Recreational Area

Horseback Riding Trails
Hartman Rocks Recreational Area

The Blue Mesa Reservoir

The Blue Mesa Reservoir
Mesa Campground
Big Blue
Cebolla Creek
Deer Lakes
Gate View

From Gunnison, head to Lake City, Colorado. This is a 1 hour and 15-minute drive. Your drive on The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway begins in Lake City.

Staying true to its late 1800s “mining boom” status as the area’s supply and service center, Lake City is now the everything-you-need hub for amazing hiking, climbing, fishing, boating, four-wheeling, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, sightseeing adventures. To visit the Lake City website, [click here].

Lake City – Begin Alpine Loop – Information

Day 3: Spend the day exploring Engineer Pass, Animas Forks Ghost town, Cinnamon Pass. You can find dispersed camping along this stretch, or continue on to Mill Creek campground.

Day 4-5: Take a short stretch of alpine loop back to rd 878, Engineer mountain, to CO 550 north to Ouray. Explore the neat little town of Ouray. From Ouray Take 4×4 trail 853.1B, Yankee Boy Basin 4.2 miles to trail end. The wildflowers along this route are amazing during the spring and summer months. Go back to the start of 361 then continue on to Imogene Pass 4×4 rd. Find dispersed camping anywhere on this route.

Day 6-7: Eventually, you will reach the beautiful town of Telluride. From here, explore the town, and the myriad of 4×4 trails in every direction. You could easily string this out into a 10-day trip. Refer to maps for a list of area trails.

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