15 Best Colorado ATV Trails to Explore

The Centennial State, Colorado, has been blessed with an exceptional mix of landscapes: the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, amazing deserts and plains, and forested hillsides all combine to make for an excellent destination for outdoor lovers.

But where are the best ATV trails in Colorado? Depending on your level, appetite for adventure, and historical and natural interests, there is so much choice. Here are some of the top destinations for ATV riding in Colorado:

  1. Lizard Head Trail
  2. Texas Creek ATV Trails
  3. Roaring Creek OHV Trail
  4. Wagon Wheel Trail System
  5. Taylor Park
  6. Crested Butte Areas
  7. St Mary’s Glacier
  8. Alpine Loop
  9. Ruby Jewel Route
  10. Bull Mountain
  11. Grand Mesa Trails
  12. Mendenhall Route
  13. Rainbow Falls Trails
  14. Hardscrabble Mountain
  15. Red Feather Lakes

Let’s look at the best places to go to find great ATV rides in Colorado and enjoy all this excellent state has to offer outdoor enthusiasts.

15 Best Colorado ATV Trails

1. Lizard Head Trail

If you’re looking for wilderness, head 10 miles southwest of Telluride, and you will find the Lizard Head Wilderness spread across 41,496 acres. Some impressive peaks attracting mountain climbers and hikers await here, such as Mount Wilson and El Diente. For ATV riders, there is the Lizard Head Trail: 7.7 miles long; it takes you from Lizard Head Pass into the wilderness recreation area and is shared with hikers and horseback riders. Roll through spruce-fir and aspen forests, traverse Bilk Creek Basin, and enjoy the views of the waterfalls. This isn’t a particularly long trail, but the views are great, and it offers a connection to the Wilson Mesa Trail for onward travel. It’s not very technical and therefore suitable for any type of ATV and ATV rider.

Lizard Head Colorado

2. Texas Creek ATV Trails

Head to South Central Colorado, and you’ll discover an impressive network of ATV trails at Texas Creek – a genuine playground for ATV and Jeep riders. This is one of the best areas for ATV riding in Colorado, circling Table Mountain with a diversity of terrain that suits different types of riders. Stay on the eastern slopes for flatter and easier riding, head west for rockier trails and more challenging adventures. 

You can find Texas Creek near the Royal Gorge area on Highway 50, about 30 miles east of Salida or 25 miles of Canon City. ATV riding in Colorado is at its finest in this set of trails open for all.

3. Roaring Creek OHV Trail

This OHV trail is currently closed, but it’s worth including for its scenic views and relatively easy approach. You can find it near Red Feather Lakes, and it’s open for ATV access from May to October. Climb to 10,500 feet and enjoy the panoramic vistas at the top, then go back into the Roosevelt National Forest and find a scenic camping spot.

4. Wagon Wheel Trail System

If you’re looking for a long day out riding your ATV in Colorado, the Wagon Wheel Trail System has over 600 miles of trails running through the White River National Forest and Rangely, with several interconnecting loops for all levels of rider. It’s also an area to indulge in outdoor activities such as camping, hunting, and fishing, too.

You can split your riding between the West and East sections of the system. The Eastern side is a great mix of natural and cultural history, going through the rugged mountain trails of the White River National Forest and passing historical sites along the way. 250 miles of trails with 16 interconnected loops await. Moreover, Meeker (the starting point) and Rio Blanco County are both OHV friendly and allow you to ride your ATV on city streets and designated country roads, making it easy to get around.

On the Western side, you have an additional 360 miles of ATV riding on the White River Bureau of Land Management trails. Trails here also range from mostly groomed to completely wild, so they will test different types of skill and experience. Find out more here.

5. Taylor Park

Within the Gunnison National Forest, you’ll find Taylor Park, whose trails are all around the Taylor Park Reservoir – about 100 miles in total. The park is open from mid-May to late November. Expect some wide and smooth dirt roads mixed with narrow, rocky trails.

You can take advantage of multiple campgrounds with direct trail access in the park. At the reservoir, enjoy boating and fishing, too. You can find the map of the park here.

6. Crested Butte Areas

On the northern and eastern sides of the Crested Butte area, you can find many exciting ATV trails to explore the wilderness. The Northern Crested Butte Area is home to some easier trails like the Slate and Gothic Roads, offering great views with little effort, while you can also head to Gunsight Pass and Schofield Pass for more technical terrain. Find out more information about the trails in the Northern Crested Butte Area here

The Eastern Crested Butte Area has a lot of challenging trails for seasoned ATV riders. Connect three big trails into a loop: Pearl Pass, followed by Taylor Pass and Italian Creek Road. Taylor Pass is actually listed among many “top dangerous roads” as it’s one of Colorado‘s highest mountains at an elevation of 11,948 ft above sea level. The 8.5 miles to the top are very challenging, with big drops and hairpin turns.

7. St Mary’s Glacier

There are two trail systems in the area around St Mary’s Glacier: St Mary’s and Empire. Circle the unique glacier and enjoy scenic views. The St Mary’s trails are sometimes smooth, sometimes pretty rocky, but always rewarding.

8. Alpine Loop

This circular route is extremely popular, traveling through the well-known Lake City, Ouray, and Silverton, with high altitude passes and rugged mountain views. Officially, the trail is considered to start from Lake City, and the total distance is around 65 miles. It passes some interesting historical sites such as the ghost towns of Animas Forks and Capitol City, mining camps, and structures.

Besides the main trail, you can also venture off to side trails like the California Gulch and many others, allowing you to spend days on end riding your ATV around this area.

9. Ruby Jewel Route

Located near Walden, this 6-mile trail is accessible all year round and can be driven one-way in the summer and further up to 8 miles in winter. Start from the car park at Ruby Jewel yurt, and you will end up at 9,146 feet altitude where a hiking trailhead starts, to allow you to explore the area further.

10. Bull Mountain

Following an old logging road, this trail allows you to climb to the top of Bull Mountain in a one-way 7-mile ride during the summer. In winter, you can get to the North Michigan Reservoir at 4 miles in by branching off to the right of the trail. The trail is packed and groomed for snowmobiling in the deep winter.

11. Grand Mesa Trails

These off-road trails near Grand Junction are great ATV riding trails through dense forests, lakes, and meadows. There are many trails and interconnections but, as it’s a national forest area, you will need to be careful of the signs and stick to the ones marked specifically for ATV riding.

ATV Trail Colorado

12. Mendenhall Route

A popular route for hunters, this trail is 8 miles long and takes you to Medicine Bow Trail, Route NF, and the N. Sand Dunes. It’s a steep climb as you gain 2,000 feet, and spectacular views will greet you at the top of the ridge, where on a clear day, you can see really far out.

13. Rainbow Falls Trails

The Rainbow Falls riding area is in the heart of Pike National Forest, with 20 miles of trails where ATVs are permitted. This is a very popular destination, with moderate trails to suit most abilities. The terrain is mostly smooth and hardpacked, making for fast riding. You’ll need to be mindful not to ride around campgrounds and make sure you display a Colorado OHV permit at all times.

14. Hardscrabble Mountain

Head to the Hardscrabble Special Recreation Management Area between Gypsum and Eagle to ride some fantastic ATV trails around Hardscrabble Mountain. The specially designated ATV trails are located near Gypsum in the western side of the area.

15. Red Feather Lakes

The Roosevelt National Forest has an impressive section of over 100 miles of ATV riding trails just west of Fort Collins at Red Feather Lakes. You can find some more information and trail maps here. You’ll notice varying levels of riding difficulty to suit all riders.

Conclusion – Colorado, a Trail Riding Paradise

So, where are the best Colorado ATV trails? To review, here they are once more:

  1. Lizard Head Trail
  2. Texas Creek ATV Trails
  3. Roaring Creek OHV Trail
  4. Wagon Wheel Trail System
  5. Taylor Park
  6. Crested Butte Areas
  7. St Mary’s Glacier
  8. Alpine Loop
  9. Ruby Jewel Route
  10. Bull Mountain
  11. Grand Mesa Trails
  12. Mendenhall Route
  13. Rainbow Falls Trails
  14. Hardscrabble Mountain
  15. Red Feather Lakes

It’s no surprise that a state like Colorado, famous for its outdoor activities, will have a lot to offer for ATV riding. The trail systems are extensive, and the interconnections allow for long days out or multi-day trips, depending on your skill and appetite for adventure.

Whether you’re vacationing and looking for ATV trails near Colorado Springs or checking out more historic rides around the mining ghost towns close to Silverton, there’s something for every interest, in addition to OHV-friendly towns and many campgrounds and additional facilities. Happy riding!

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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