Scenic Drives & Byways

Take in the gorgeous San Juan Mountain scenery from the comfort of your car or the back of an OHV.

Lake City and surrounding Hinsdale County are filled with some of the nation's most beautiful scenic byways. Pack a lunch and hit the road today. 

Scenic Two-Wheel Drives Around Lake City

historic hinsdale county cabinCebolla Creek (FS 788)

Forest Service Road 788 winds from the top of Slumgullion Pass through the ranching community of Cathedral and can connect to County Road 50, which intersects Highway 149 at Powderhorn. This is a great loop for those who do not have four-wheel drive but are looking for beautiful scenery off the beaten path. While driving, keep a watchful eye for moose known to hang out around the upper and lower mill ponds near Deer Lakes.

CR 20 to Whitmore Falls

This section leading to Engineer Pass is accessible for those unable to drive the complete Alpine Loop. Sites along this road include the Ute Ulay mine and mill site, Snowden’s Meadow, the remnants of Capitol City, and Whitmore Falls.

CR 30 to Sherman

This drive wanders through the valley past Lake San Cristobal to the Sherman townsite, ending at the Cataract Gulch trailhead. Those who want to vary their view of the lake and mountainsides should try taking CR 33 on the trip back to Lake City.

Blue Mesa Cutoff & Sapinero Cutoff

These two cutoffs are not only great timesavers in the summer, but they are also vista-laden scenic routes providing alternate ways to get from Highway 149 to Highway 50, west of the 149 & 50 junction. Both cutoffs are marked on Highway 149. 

Silver Thread Scenic Byway

Highway 149 is always a breathtaking drive, regardless of the season. Stretching from Blue Mesa Reservoir to South Fork, this scenic sojourn is a great day trip. For those looking to mix up the drive, try taking FS Road 788 from Slumgullion Pass around to Powderhorn. Read more about the Silver Thread Byway

FS 520 (Highway 149 to Rio Grande Reservoir)

FS Road 520 travels past Road Canyon Reservoir and a number of campgrounds before becoming four-wheel drive only near Stony Pass past the Rio Grande Reservoir and Lost Trail Campground. The drive also offers access to a number of fishing spots. 

Scenic Four-Wheel Drives Around Lake City

We’ve heard there’s been some talk of the OHV laws changing in Lake City. As of today, the laws have not changed.  We appreciate you and look forward to seeing you here in Lake City!  Please contact the chamber at 970-944-2527 for more information.

Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway

This scenic drive always delivers great sights and wonderful memories. Read more about the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway.  

Cottonwood Creek

Just after the Cataract Gulch trailhead on CR 35, a beautiful and short stretch of rocky road begins. It meanders through aspen groves and along Cottonwood Creek, opening up just before the Cuba Gulch trailhead. 

Nellie Creek

This short stretch of bumpy road just off CR 20 ends at the Uncompahgre trailhead after traveling past Nellie Creek’s two-tier waterfall. Please note that the road crosses the creek twice and may not be accessible during high water. 

Round Top

A drive that is particularly spectacular in the fall, Round Top Road starts just after the Lake City Ski Hill, travels through impressive aspen groves, and offers phenomenal views of Uncompahgre Peak.

Wager Gulch

Take a trip up Wager Gulch to Carson, one of the best-preserved ghost towns in Colorado: The site is well worth exploring, but please respect it. Wager Gulch continues to the Continental Divide and offers access to the Heart Lake Trail.

Stony Pass

This is one of the lesser traveled passes of the Alpine Loop, but one that offers great views and plenty of photo opportunities. Stony Pass can be accessed via FS 520 (Rio Grande Reservoir) and ends at Howardsville, just a few miles east of Silverton.

Scenic ATV/OHV only Drives Around Lake City

For official Hinsdale County OHV rules and regulations please call the Chamber of Commerce at 970-944-2527.

Schafer Gulch/Hurricane Basin

This beautiful basin has light to moderate traffic during the summer. The road is only wide enough for ATVs but is also open to hikers and horses. The basin is home to the historic Golconda Boardinghouse as well as beautiful views and scenic vistas.

Cannibal Plateau

This ATV trail is just off Forest Service Road 788. The trail takes users up to its namesake, Cannibal Plateau. The plateau offers one of the best views of the Slumgullion Slide. The trail is also open to hikers and horses.

Lost Trail

Lost Trail picks up where Wager Gulch left off at the Continental Divide near Heart Lake. This trail does have a 56-inch width restriction. The trail ends at Lost Trail Campground by Rio Grande Reservoir.

Hill 71

A favorite spot of snowmobilers during the winter can also be accessed by ATVs via Sawmill Park.

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970.944.2527  •

Lake City/Hinsdale County Visitor Center
800 Gunnison Avenue
PO Box 430
Lake City, CO 81235
Tues. - Sat  9am - 3pm
Sun - Mon - CLOSED