drive backpack


This #TravelTuesday, the #mypubliclandsroadtrip follows Colorado’s Alpine Loop for remote historic spots and scenic wilderness views.

The Alpine Loop is one of America’s Back-Country Byways, providing an off-the-beaten-path trip for adventurers in cars, motorcycles, 4x4 vehicles and even mountain bikes. Tucked away in the San Juan Mountains, the byway winds through the towns of Lake City, Ouray and Silverton, Colorado, for 65 miles.  

U.S. settlers moved into the area in the late 1800s to search for silver, gold, lead and zinc. They constructed a network of roads and railways so they could transport ore and supplies through the mountain ridges. Most of the mines are closed today, but the roads still remain, offering a rare and intimate view of historic southwestern Colorado. Remnants of the area’s past dot the byway – visitors may see once-booming ghost towns, old mine shafts and railroad fixtures.

Pictured here, Animas Forks was once a thriving mining town of 30 cabins and a hotel, general store, saloon and post office. When gold mining profits declined, investment in the town declined as well. And the town was a ghost by the 1920s. The BLM Colorado and local partners maintain this ghost town as a stop for travelers along the Alpine Loop.