Your journey begins in Durango, Colorado’s gateway to the Old West. After a day exploring and a ride on the Durango and Silverton Railroad, which brought ore down from the mountains, you’ll be traveling to Silverton, Colorado’s silver capital. The Alpine Loop takes off from Silverton, traveling first through the ghost towns of Howardsville, Eureka and finally, Animas Forks. From there, you’re driving the rocky roads of the Byway, first through Cinnamon Pass, then Sherman Overlook and past Lake San Cristobal, before reaching Lake City. After Lake City, the Ute-Ulay Mine, Pike Snowden Cabin, Lee’s Smelter Stack, Capitol City ghost town, Charcoal Kiln, Whitmore Falls, Rose Lime Kiln, Empire Chief Mine, Rose’s Cabin and the Palmerton Powder House, all appear along the road, before passing through Engineer Pass and rejoining the road to Ouray.
A note about the Alpine Loop: About two thirds of the route is dirt road suitable for 2-wheel drive cars, so everyone can experience a portion of the scenic road. In order to traverse the entire route and cross Engineer Pass, Cinnamon Pass and Mineral Creek, you’ll need a 4-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. Passenger cars, RV’s, campers, and vans are not recommended. Semi-trucks with trailers are prohibited. Rental services for off-highway vehicles are offered in surrounding towns. Uphill traffic has the right of way on all roads and the speed limit is 15 miles an hour.