There is no better feeling than hitting the open road. Windows rolled down, music turned up. The fresh mountain air hitting your face. Unfortunately, this is not easily achievable on the highways during the busy summer months. As I-70 gets more crowded, thrill-seekers want to know where they can go to get their fix.
Luckily, Colorado has plenty of offroading and OHV routes. Some are remote and off the beaten path, perfect for those who are comfortable on gravel roads. Guided Jeep tours are another option for those new to the hobby as well.
Regardless of your skillset, Northern Colorado has something for every thrill seeker.
There are over a thousand miles of trails for offroading in Colorado. A lot of popular hiking trails even require a 4WD vehicle to get to the trailhead. Driving on rugged roads and gravel can become a weekly routine when you are a local. This is why Subarus and Jeeps are some of the top vehicle brands bought in the state.
Seven Mile Creek OHV Route is a 7.9 road near Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. Normally open all year, this road takes you up SevenMile Creek Valley and the Roosevelt National Forest. A historic option as it was created by gold miners back in the 1800s. You will even pass some of the old mining cabins they used. It takes about two hours to complete the whole route. It is a very popular spot to stop off for the night and enjoy the dispersed camping spots. The highest elevation point on this road is 9,027 feet. The closest town with gas and food would be Ft Collins, so be sure to fill up before getting on the road. The skill level is rated moderate to difficult. Note this road was closed due to the wildfires of 2020 but is expected to open over this summer.
Old Flowers Road is an OHV route located in Laporte, Colorado. A twelve-mile road with an elevation high of 8,681 feet. A mountain pass that goes from Stove, Prairie community to Pingree Park. This area was devastated by the High Park Fire in 2012. A lightning storm lit 87,000 acres on fire. Burning more than 250 homes and most of the surrounding forest. Eventually, the area began to rebuild. Today, you will pass by Stove Prarie Ranch, which is a unique stone ranch building. It is still used today for ranching and ranch hands live there. From there you can enjoy the view of old historic cabins and views of the mountains. This route is rated as easy and is recommended for beginners. Open seasonally, so be sure to check the status before you go.
Switzerland Trail is located near the town of Nederland, Colorado, a few miles west of Boulder County. At 8,975 feet, this 8.69-mile road offers some breathtaking views of both the Rockies and foothills. You will be following an old railroad route from Sugarloaf Mountain to Gold Hill. Making this road very narrow in spots, since it is a shelf road. Some locations make it impossible to be able to pass oncoming vehicles. This route is rated from easy to difficult depending on the spot. Most of the road is gradual and not steep due to the railroad. Due to some very rocky areas, a high clearance vehicle is recommended. Dispersed camping is allowed, but not recommended by fellow offroaders. Stating it is better to use a day trip option since the camping options are not that remote. Open year-round, and highly rated for winter offroading.
Storm Mountain, located in Drake, Colorado, is a local favorite. Know for its jaw-dropping views of Northern Colorado. The 16.9-mile road sits at 9,862 feet. The first part of the trip has sharp curves and narrow paths. Recommended driving slow as wildlife is frequently reported on this road. Moose, elk, and bear are common. The top of the roads offers visibility of Estes Park and the front range valley. A high clearance vehicle is ideal since this trail is reported very rocky. The drive is rated as moderate. Open seasonally from June to September.
Offroading can be intimidating, especially on narrow mountain passes. A dangerous combination with the often unpredictable Colorado Weather. Making it important to be educated and comfortable with your wheels. Don’t worry if you don’t have the proper 4X4 vehicle. Jeep Tours are a great way to still play in the dirt, safely. Allowing you to get the same adrenaline rush.
Backbone Adventures in Estes Park lets you rent your own private 4X4 Vehicle. Jeep Wranglers are available for daily and multi-day rentals. They come lifted with large tires. The doors and top are removable for you to enjoy the sunny summer weather. They even provide a complimentary cooler and trail navigation. The ride times are from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily. The minimum age to rent here is 23 years old and 16 years of age to drive. Prior to your drive, the team will walk you around the Jeep before leaving to ensure feel confident. You are authorized to take it wherever you like. Even offering trail suggestions.
Estes Park’s Wildside 4×4 tours are a fun option for visitors who don’t want to drive. Their offroad 4×4 photo tours cover a photographic opportunity, tour guide, and information. Snacks, drinks, and cold weather gear, if needed are also included. They have four different photo tour options. The Panoramic Photo Tour is at a slower pace, allowing you to stop and take as many photos as you’d like. It ends at a private viewing tower that overlooks the Rocky Mountains. Great for guests who would like to slow down and enjoy the ride. The Not So Mellow Marshmallow Tour is their evening offroad adventure. Offering views of the sunset cascading over the mountain range. The tour ends at a campfire on top of the mountain, where marshmallows are ready to be roasted. For all you thrill-seekers, the Rock’N Roller Coaster tour is catered for you. A faster tour that goes over large boulders and steep hill climb. From October to December, they even have a Winter On The Rocks Photo Tour. Providing opportunities to see the snowy mountains. Blankets are even provided to keep you warm.
Add those 4×4 Offroading trails and Jeep tours to your summer exploration list. The rugged dirt roads of the mountains are anticipating for you to visit. These different options are available to ensure that every adventurer is comfortable. Take advantage of the guided Jeep Tours with your knowledgeable Tour Guide. Or gas up your vehicle and spend the day navigating the roads yourself. Both options will lead you to these beautiful Northern Colorado destinations.