During the COVID crisis, many people are looking for ways to get out of the home without risking their health. One solution: Go off-roading!

Did you know that one of the many reasons people move to the Western Slope is the trail access for off-road vehicles? Trails around Montrose, Ouray, Telluride, and Lake City, offer some of the best off-roading experiences in the world. THE WORLD!

New to off-roading? That’s okay, I have trails rated from beginner to expert for you, so you can get your tires wet (instead of your feet). Moreover, I’ve added some tips and guidelines to make your outdoor adventure one to remember.

Are You Off-Road Ready?

Before you go off-roading, be sure to have the right tires for the trail.

Are your tires ready to roll?

If you are new to off-roading, the first thing you need to ensure is that your off-road vehicle is off-road ready. The first thing you want to check is your vehicle clearance. As a general rule, your vehicle should be able to clear at least 8.5 inches. It also depends on the type of vehicle you have, too. The most common vehicles used for off-road on the Western Slope are Jeeps, FJ Cruisers, Tacomas, and many other types of pickups and SUVs that have 4WD capabilities.

Next, it’s important to check your tires. First, you want to make sure you have tires with the right tread. Most off-roaders opt for the chunkier tire with a higher tread. Be sure to select tires that have a steady tread surface. That way, regardless if you are driving the highway or rocking the trails, you want your tire to grab the surface and reduce friction to increase tire longevity. Secondly, you’ll want to reduce some of the air pressure in your tires. This allows the rubber to have a better connection with the ground surface, which improves the overall traction of your vehicle.

Note: Off-Roading is dangerous, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Be prepared and stay the trail at all times.

Beginner Trails

Spectacular mountain views from Last Dollar Road to Telluride

The views on Last Dollar Road are worth the long detour to Telluride.

Last Dollar Road

One my favorite ways to get to Telluride from Montrose, Colorado, is to take the long detour on Last Dollar Road. You’ll begin your journey Ridgway, and wind in-and-out of trees and you can even pass by the historic ranch from the original “True Grit” movie featuring the iconic John Wayne. Moreover, you’ll know you are nearing Telluride by the beautiful Wilson Peak, which was the inspiration behind the Coors’ label.

The majority of this road is graded and wide, with a few dips, bumps, and mud. Overall, it’s really more about the scenery, then the technicality of the drive.

Flat Top-Peach Valley

The Flat Top-Peach Valley Recreation Area is located just north of Montrose, and is part of the 64,000-acre Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area (NCA). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the NCA to protect the land, but still has designated plenty of acreage for your recreational fun. This is a great place to try out your off-road vehicle, but be sure you pay attention to the road signs. There are areas are only designed for ATV or OHV less that 50″ wide. The desert landscape gives way to high desert brush, and you’ll have views that can go for miles and miles.

Local Lingo: The locals call this area the “Adobes,” or even sometimes just “Dobes,” for short.

Intermediate Trails

Rimrocker Trail

Rimrocker Trail is a glorious 160 mile trail leading you all the way from Montrose, Colorado, to the off-roading hotspot of Moab, Utah. This trail provides access for 4WD, OHV, and mountain bike access through the Wild West. Another great feature about Rimrocker, is that there are many expert level side trails stem from this major trail. If you want to do the entire trail in one day, it could take up to 8-10 hours.

wildflowers in Yankee Boy Basin

Yankee Boy features wildflowers, waterfalls, alpine lakes, and access to the revered Mt. Sneffels.

Yankee Boy Basin

One of my favorite trails is Yankee Boy Basin, even if it’s crowded! The first segment of the trail is really just a 2.0, and not too difficult. Once you get past the local parking spot, you’ll getting into more of 2.5 range. The reason this off-roading trail is a favorite for both locals and tourists, is because of the spectacular wildflowers, small alpine lakes, and waterfalls. If you like to hike, as well as off-road, the road leads to the popular trailhead of Mt. Sneffels. Mt. Sneffels is a fourteener dubbed as the, “Queen of the San Juans.” This is a great way to get your tires muddy, and bag a fourteener in one day!

Expert Trails

View of Telluride from Black Bear Pass, a notorious off-roading pass in Colorado

The calm before the storm on Black Bear Pass.

Black Bear Pass

Do you think you’re ready to level up? Black Bear Pass requires some serious backbone. This is one of the most renown off-roading trailings in Colorado, but it’s also infamous for fatalities. Sheer drop-offs, sharp switchbacks, and stunning views, you will officially have bragging rights after you conquer this pass. There’s even a sign that states, “You don’t have to be crazy to drive this road, but it helps!”

You’ll find the entrance to this daredevil drive on the Million Dollar Hwy, in between Ouray and Silverton. If you’re brave enough to keep going forward, you’ll in end up in Telluride. Not a bad way to spend the day, eh?

Rock Crawler Trails

If you’re looking for the ultimate off-roading experience, check out the latest trails and details in rock crawling. There are six rock crawling trails located in the Dry Creek area of the Uncompahgre Plateau, just west of Montrose, Colorado.

With trail names such as, Calamity Canyon, Topless, Death Row, Die Trying and Cactus Ridge, I think you’ll know what type of driving you’ll be in for. You can access all of these trails off of Rim Road. Each of these trails require an artful blend expertise, equipment, and grit. Be prepared for body damage and broken parts, and with all expert trails, winch and lockers are required. Either way, it sounds like a barrel of fun!

Stay the Trail

Please stay on the trail when off-roading

Driving off the road is not worth it.

Getting outdoors is healthy, and driving off-road still allows you to stay within the parameters of social distancing. My favorite way to spend the day is drive up a difficult trailhead, and go for a short hike. No matter where you go, be sure to bring your common sense with you, and to stay the trail. It’s important to respect the landscape around you, for your safety, and for the protection of our public lands. Bring your family, and your favorite off-road vehicle, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Are you looking to relocate to the Western Slope? Or, are you ready to upgrade your current home situation? I’m confident that my passion and expertise of the area will help you find your next dream home. Reach out today!