Length: 63 miles. Driving time: 4-6 hours.
The Alpine Loop leaves pavement and people behind, crossing the remote, rugged, spectacular heart of the San Juan Mountains. It's demanding - the two 12,000-foot passes (Cinnamon and Engineer) require a high-clearance 4-wheel-drive vehicle - but the well-prepared motorist reaps unparalleled rewards: pristine mountain views, hiking and biking trails, great camping opportunities, and ample solitude. These rocky roads were first used by 19th-century miners, who carted their ore off to Silverton, Ouray, and Lake City in mule-drawn wagons. Spend an afternoon exploring abandoned townsites, structures, and other former mining haunts - if you want to commune with ghosts of Colorado's rich past.
BLM-Gunnison Resource Area
Lenore C. Bates