Hidden away in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado is a series of four wheel drive roads unlike most others in the Colorado Mountains. This area was formed by millions of years of volcano eruptions, glaciers, wind, melting snow and rain.
For centuries Native Americans came to this area to hunt, fish, gather berries and enjoy the almost unbelievable beauty as well as the mild cool summer days. As often happened in our history, precious metals were discovered and miners flooded into the mountains removing the original inhabitants
In the relentless search for gold the most incredible array of mountain trails were established. The main road connecting Lake City, Silverton and Ouray is known as the Alpine Loop, it is little more than glorified mountain trail and as you struggle to pass in your modern four wheel vehicle you are amazed that the rugged old miners drove stage coaches and ore filled wagons on these roads. Most of the ”roads” were little more than narrow trails along the side of a mountain just wide enough for an overloaded mule or donkey to pass. As more equipment was needed and more ore needed to be removed these roads were improved just enough for a mule drawn wagon to travel.
Today most of the mines are closed and the old miners cabins sit empty, but the beauty and the roads still remain. In place of the donkey trains and mule drawn wagons the motorized tourist have arrived. In the late 40’s after World War Two many of the old army jeeps with four wheel drive became available to citizens and these old roads gained new life. There was no way a regular automobile could negotiate these back roads but the jeep made it possible for a new group of people to enjoy the beauty these mountains have to offer. While our national parks and public lands are invaded by millions of people this incredible area of thousands and thousands of acres of public land and wilderness seems almost undiscovered.
The Alpine Loop offers much more than a beautiful exciting drive for the new OHV and four wheel drive owner. It offers hundreds of hiking trails, miles of little steams filled with wild little brookies, secluded camping spots with star filled night skies and wildlife seldom seen by most people.
If you love history, adventure, wildlife, wildflowers, unimaginable beauty, quaint little mountain villages and friendly helpful people then you should take a ride across the top of the world on the Alpine Loop near Lake City, Colorado.