Driving the Alpine Loop of Colorado is truly a backcountry experience

Alpine Loop is a spectacular drive situated in the San Juan Mountains of the US state of Colorado. The road ascends two 12,000-foot passes (Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass) and is recommended for high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles with a short wheelbase.

Alpine Loop

What Is the Alpine Loop?

The rugged drive combines two renowned 4x4 roads, Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass.

Where is Alpine Loop in Colorado?

The road spans San Juan, Hinsdale, and Ouray counties in the southwestern part of Colorado.

How long is the Alpine Loop in Colorado?

The Alpine Loop National Backcountry Scenic Byway covers 101 km (63 miles) through the alpine terrain of the San Juan Mountains, connecting Lake City, Ouray, and Silverton. Originally Native American paths, these trails were widened in the 19th century for miners transporting ore.

Is the Alpine Loop in Colorado open?

Located high in the San Juan Mountains, the road typically opens from late May/early June to late October, depending on snow levels and spring runoff.

Can I drive my vehicle through Alpine Loop in Colorado?

Passenger cars, RVs, camper vehicles, and vans are not recommended. Semi-trucks with trailers are prohibited. While two-thirds of the route is suitable for 2-wheel-drive cars, a 4-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle is necessary to traverse Engineer Pass, Cinnamon Pass, or Mineral Creek.

How long does it take to drive the Alpine Loop in Colorado?

Driving the road without stopping usually takes between 4 and 6 hours.

Is Alpine Loop in Colorado worth it?

The drive offers sweeping views and the opportunity to explore abandoned townsites and former mining haunts. Capture unbelievable shots of mountain peaks and visit seven ghost towns.

How hard is the Alpine Loop Colorado?

The drive is challenging with narrow sections, hairpin bends, rocks, and dangerous drop-offs. Uphill traffic has the right-of-way, and caution is needed on blind curves. The demanding route requires a high-clearance 4-wheel-drive vehicle for the two 12,000-foot passes (Cinnamon and Engineer). Despite increased ATV and vehicle traffic, the well-prepared motorist enjoys pristine mountain views, trails for hiking and biking, great camping spots, and solitude. Ensure a full tank of gas and carry extra food and water.