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The Alpine Loop Back Country Byway takes you into the San Juan Mountains between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado on the west and Lake City, Colorado on the east.  The road was not completely open when I was there on May 24th.

The Alpine Loop is part of the National Scenic Byway system.  Being a Back Country byway, it is mostly gravel and not suitable for all vehicles.  Once I reached the point where "4- Wheel Drive Recommended" I never got above 2nd gear in 4WD low.  

Some of the literature indicates the 78 miles from Silverton to Lake City and return should take about 6 hours.  I was out for over 7 hours and only made it to Burrows Park and back.  Of course, I supposed most people don't stop to take the number of pictures that I took.

Starting in Silverton, the road leads to what remains of the town of Eureka.  This section of the road, including that on to Animas Forks I accessible by 2 wheel drive vehicles.  The road does deteriorate some once past Eureka. Spend some time looking around the ruins at Animas Forks.

Animas River valley from Silverton, thru Eureka to Animas Forks.

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Ruins at Animas Forks.

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From Animas Forks the road climbs steeply to Cinnamon Pass.  Definitely 4WD only on this section of the byway. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground when I was there on May 24th.  Made for an interesting drive up to the pass.  About 1 1/2 miles down the east side are some shart switchbacks.  Take your time coming down this section of the road.  Across the Lake Fork - Gunison River and the road levels out a bit and can be accessed without 4WD from Lake City.  

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Missed a turn - road to Engineer Pass

Here's the road up to Cinnamon Pass

Climbing up to the pass

Cinnamon Pass

Cinnamon Pass - West

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Cinnamon Pass - East

Mine ruins

Old building

Switchbacks

The road down

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Lake Fork Gunnison River

American Basin

American Basin

Burrows Park

Me with the Jeep - near the end of a beautiful day.

A few more pictures coming back to Silverton.  This included a side trip up the road past the Old Hundred Mine.

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 I'll be adding a few more pictures once my film gets back from processing.  I took a roll of 35mm and nearly a roll of panoramics.  


 


Copyright(c) 2004 Tom Winfield. All rights reserved.