Jeep Colorado Trails
A note on all Colorado trails: most Colorado trails have sections where there are steep drop offs next to the trail, and there are no guard rails. Even Colorado highways can be alarming short of guard rails if you are used to flatland driving. If you have a severe fear of heights, you may find even our easy trails to be uncomfortable.
Easy: Can be done by the novice. Many sections may not require 4WD in good conditions. Roads are unpaved, infrequently maintained and are likely to have moderate grades, potholes, ruts, and edges with no guard rails.
Moderate: Can be done by the novice. Most people will find these trails to be a fun adventure with some steep climbs, narrow ledge roads (plenty wide for one Jeep, but not wide enough to pass in many places), some rocks that require slow & careful ascent, and water crossings that could be as high as the bumpers. The key is to take your time, go slow, and pay attention. The biggest concern on these trails is watching for other vehicles and taking the time to find a safe place to pass.
Challenging: Not recommended for the novice. Even experienced 4-wheelers may find the obstacles and ledges intimidating, and damage to vehicle is possible, unless extreme caution, careful throttle control and precise wheel placement is exercised.
Difficult: Experienced 4-wheelers only. Solo travel not recommended. Vehicle damage possible, even with slow ascent and careful wheel placement. Tippy sections, rocks and ledges 16” and higher, unreliable water crossings, deep mud, slippery shale sections, impassable snow banks possible year-round.
Ouray 4X4 Trails
Some of our favorites…
Trail Rating: Moderate to Challenging
Time: 5 Hours, one-way to Lake City
Engineer Pass is the adventurous section of the famous Alpine Loop—spectacular views, well-preserved mine sites, and an attention-grabbing trail. The most difficult sections are within the first few miles, along the Mineral Creek area, requiring careful wheel placement, slow ascent, and constant patience for picking your way around and over one rock after another. Narrow ledge roads with no guard rails look intimidating and require rapt attention, but are not technically challenging. After the summit, the road becomes wider and less steep heading into Lake City, with great wildlife viewing opportunities.
Return to Ouray via Cinnamon Pass, California Gulch, and Corkscrew, approximately 5-6 hours, for a total round-trip of 11 hours—a very full-day of exploring!
Trail Rating: Moderate
Time: 3 hours from Lake City to Animas Forks
Beautiful rusty red-colored mountains is what gives this trail it’s name. It is mostly an easy trail, with a few steep and rocky sections, especially on the western end. Allow yourself a little extra time to wonder at the beauty and history of the Animas Forks area. Combine this trail with California Gulch and Corkscrew Gulch for a complete trip across the Alpine Loop.
Trail Rating: Easy
Time: 1 hour (access via Cinnamon Pass, Corkscrew Gulch or Engineer PassAwesome views (again). This trail is part of the Alpine Loop, connecting Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass with Corkscrew Gulch in the middle of the Loop at Animas Forks.
Trail Rating: Easy, though not recommended when wet
Time: 1 hour
And again, awesome views. Trail takes you between Red Mountains #1 and #2. Corkscrew Gulch is so named because the railroad built a turntable to turn locomotives around in order to be able to ascend to the mines.
The western side of this trail has some clay layers that can become as slippery as grease when they get saturated, so consider the optional route back to Hwy 550 if you get caught in severe weather: head south to Gladstone and Silverton on CR 110.
Trail Rating: Moderate to Challenging
Time: 4 hours one-way to Ouray; 6 to 8 hours Roundtrip combined with a stop in Ouray and a return trip via Ophir Pass; or 3 hours roundtrip to Tomboy Mine and back to Telluride.
A scenic and fun 4-wheeling adventure over the 2nd highest drivable mountain pass in Colorado at 13,114 feet above sea level.
If you are short on time or just want to skip the most challenging parts of the trail, enjoy a moderate 4-wheel-drive excursion to the Tomboy Mine and back. At a casual pace, this takes 3 hours roundtrip.
The most challenging part is between the summit and Upper Camp Bird on the Ouray side of the mountain. The road has a few very steep sections, though, thankfully, not at the same time that it is ledgy and narrow. There is a blind switchback just above Upper Camp Bird where it is important to stop, look and listen for a few minutes before proceeding, just in case someone is coming around the next bend where there is no room to pass. The vehicle coming uphill has the right of way.
Those who take the whole trip to Ouray usually opt to return via the scenic Ophir Pass (see below).
Trail Rating: Easy to Moderate
Time: 2 hours--One-way to Ouray; 2 hours—roundtrip to the summit and back to Telluride
This is one of the most photographed trails in all of Colorado, with gorgeous aspens, lush pine forests, the spectacular Silver Mountains (they’re red!) and views of some of the 14ers.
Easy, semi-maintained road on the Ouray side of the hill, with the moderate section being the top two miles between the summit and the town of Ophir on the Telluride side of the mountain. There is one tight switchback, followed by a narrow ledge road with few options for passing. Good visibility to see if someone is coming the other way, so stop and look at the switchback.
Last Dollar Road
Trail Rating: Easy, though not recommended in wet weather.
Time: 2 to 3 hours one-way Telluride to Ouray.
Extremely scenic, easy trail. This road does not require 4wd in dry conditions but can be very slippery when saturated, even with 4wd. Combine with Ophir for an easy loop from Telluride to Ouray and back again. Great for fall color, too!