Catch some sun, mountain air, AND test the shocks on your 4x4 with these scenic drives!
Summer is here, and that means that it's time to go off-road. Living in Colorado means having all sorts of amazing, scenic destinations relatively close by. These are the four that we're most excited to drive this summer:
Alpine Trail Loop
Courtesy of CoDot
This scenic trip traverses the heart of the San Juan Mountains. The 63 miles of rocky roads were originally used by 19th-century miners to transport good between Silverton, Lake City, and Ouray in wagons. You can still see remnants of them today: abandoned townships and mining structures dot the mountains. What makes the alpine loop truly memorable, however, is the scenery. Visitors can expect to be surrounded by breathtaking mountains and vibrant meadows. There's something innately tranquil about the four- to six-hour drive that's sure to stick with you long after you leave. If your goal is just to soak in as much of the (thin) mountain atmosphere as possible, this is a hard trip to beat.
Courtesy of WikiMedia
This 17.5-mile pass is one of the highest in Colorado with an elevation that consistently rises above 13,000 feet. While this off-roading trip might not be as long as some of the others, it more than makes up for it with a diverse swath of beautiful Colorado scenery. Drivers can expect to explore some rich alpine forests, drive out of an imposing basin floor, and finish with breathtaking views above the treeline. Imogene Pass runs between Telluride and Oray, making it a perfect addition to a weekend mountain trip.
Colorado State Forest Park
Courtesy of Flickr
One main advantage of off-roading in Colorado State Forest Park is the sense of exploration. Instead of following a single main path, the park has a variety of different routes that allow visitors to chart their own course. There's plenty of hidden corners to find, and there always seems to be a new cluster of particularly beautiful wildlife around every turn. If you're hoping to see a moose, you just might be in luck: there are daily sightings of these majestic animals going about their important moose duties in the shade of the park's colorfully bright trees!
Courtesy of Flickr
Don't let the name fool you: Kelly Flats is one of the most challenging routes in the state. There's plenty of beautiful sights nestled in the Fort Collins wilderness, but you may be too focused on the trail in front of you to see all of them. The signature attraction of this 10-mile expanse is Heart Attack Hill, a steep uphill segment right at the beginning that makes you fight for your progress towards the ridge. While the elevation may smooth out on the ridge, the challenge doesn't. Each new segment of this drive offers new obstacles, but the experience is well worth it.
Do you know of any other good off-roading spots in Colorado? Let us know in the comments!