Jeeping / Off-Roading
Explore the high country without the effort! Jeeping in the summertime is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the region, with Ouray being the heart of it all! Many of the best jeeping trails in the region start right outside our front door. If you prefer to drive, an abundance of rentals are available down the road in Ouray, including Switzerland of America Jeeps, Colorado West Jeeps, and Ouray Mountain Adventures. If driving next to steep cliffs and passing cars on the top of mountains makes you a bit queasy, most outfitters also offer tours (and do the driving for you).
Check out some of our favorite passes:
Imogene Pass – This stunning road connects Telluride and Ouray on an old mining road. The second-highest road in Colorado at 13,114 feet, it can be quite technical in spots, so we recommend it for experienced drivers only. Enjoy wildflowers, old mining equipment, and views for miles.
Alpine Loop – Be prepared for a full day on the road – but the views won’t disappoint! This 73.2-mile road features Engineer Pass, Cinnamon Pass, Animas Forks and SO many other amazing spots. Be sure to bring your camera – you’ll be taking a lot of photos.
Engineer Pass – If you don’t have time for the full Alpine Loop, be sure to check out Engineer Pass! It tops out at 12,800 feet, and the west side of the pass has some difficult spots, so this is recommended for experienced drivers only.
Ophir Pass – Generally considered one of the easiest passes in the area, Ophir Pass is a great place to start if you aren’t sure about your skills! It connects the towns of Ophir and Silverton, and has some amazing views. If you survive the Ophir-side rock shelf, you’re ready to take on some tougher terrain!
Yankee Boy Basin – If wildflowers are your thing, this road is for you! It starts from Ouray and is relatively easy, but it does get more difficult the further you go. There are several pull-offs where you can park and continue walking the road if you don’t feel comfortable with the one-way roads (right around the bathroom it gets rougher). Trust us, it’s worth it at the top!
Animas Forks – This old mining camp is quite the sight – many of the homes and mining equipment is still in good condition. This is a fun place to walk around (and it’s a short drive from Silverton) and explore while taking in the mountain views. While 4×4 high clearance is recommended, the road to Animas Forks is a tad on the easier side.
Owl Creek Pass – Owl Creek Pass is an 1885 cattle drive route that leaves right from our backyard in Ridgway and ends at the Silver Jack reservoir. It’s a great spot for lunch, fishing, and several hikes leave from this area. It’s a must-go in the fall, when the aspens are popping.
Alta Lakes – If you’re looking for a casual drive and lunch spot, Alta Lakes is a great option. Located near Telluride, this short trip is a relatively easy road that goes through the Alta Lakes Ghost Town before winding up at Alta Lakes, a set of three alpine lakes ideal for paddling, fishing, and lunch!