Using paths originally trod by Native Americans, hardy pioneers in search of silver, gold and zinc carved a network of roads through the rugged terrain high up in the Colorado mountains. Critical to transporting ore and supplies in mule-drawn wagons to Silverton, Ouray and Lake City, the route is still punctuated with the skeletons of yesterday’s boomtowns, Animas Forks, Mineral Point and Capitol City. The pits and tunnels of Hidden Treasure, Ute-Ulay, Golden Fleece, Little Giant and Pride of the West mines are still also visible on the roadsides. This system of historic roads that connected the mines and the mining towns in the region is now the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway. Unlike most scenic byways traveling on paved highways, this Bureau of Land Management Backcountry Byway is completely off the beaten path on rocky roads used by miners to cart off their ore. Plus, the Alpine Loop climbs through 12,000-foot Engineer and Cinnamon passes that deliver spectacular views. All told, this 63 miles of alpine terrain with stunning geography, seven mountain peaks, valleys, streams, lakes sculpted by volcanoes, glaciers, wind, rain and Mother Nature’s artistry makes for a wonderful drive as well as an exploration of fascinating history just about lost to time. In between the thrilling views you’ll discover history tucked away in timeless towns that take you back to gold rush days of the Wild West when riches flowed.