- Explore the backcountry around Vail, Colorado on an ATV, dirt bike or in a jeep
- Ptarmigan Pass to McAllister Gulch Loop is a great intermediate trail of 21.4 miles in length
- Mill Creek Road takes you to the top of Red Peak and outstanding views
- Take a guided ATV tour
Exploring the backcountry around Vail, Colorado has been a summer pastime of outdoor enthusiasts for many years. Jeep and 4x4 vehicle trails exist throughout the state and are particularly beautiful in the White River National Forest and other mountain areas in Summit County. Taking an ATV, jeep or dirt bike into the pine forests is a unique way to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Rockies.
Where to go ATV and Off-roading
Although motorized vehicles are prohibited in designated wilderness areas, there are plenty of areas to travel with off-road vehicles so you can immerse yourself in Rocky Mountain splendor.
Ptarmigan Pass to McAllister Gulch Loop
This is an intermediate trail that requires vehicles with high clearance. Starting out in a scenic canyon along Wearyman Creek, it starts to climb through dense forests with many switchbacks. The panoramic views are amazing. Stream crossings are numerous and sometimes up to 12 inches deep. Total length is 21.4 miles with minimal elevation gain. The best time to come is from mid-June to late September.
Mill Creek Road
Climb right through the heart of the Vail Ski Area and through the White River National Forest. This road takes you to the top of Red Peak, where you’ll get a wonderful 360-degree view and look back down into the Vail Valley. This is a fairly easy out-and-back trail taking about three hours. ATVs and dirt bikes do well here.
Red & White Mountain
Close to Vail, this is a great area to explore with an SUV! It’s also a popular ATV riding spot, with many lakes and scenic vistas to enjoy. Stop at the overlook of June Creek Canyon. Most suitable for four-wheel-drive SUVs, this point-to-point trek takes 3 to 4 hours and is 30.6 miles long.
The White River National Forest has many other trails for off-road riding. For instance, near Leadville you’ll discover the strenuous Wurts Ditch Road, 24 miles north of Leadville on Highway 24. Another road for exploring the backcountry is the McAllister Gulch and Hornsilver Mountain Road. This starts in Camp Hale off Highway 24 south of Vail.
There are innumerable trails around Vail and they seem to go in all directions so you should always keep track of where you are and ride with a partner to be safe.
Hire a Guide
Going on an off-road trip with an outfitter is sometimes the best way to experience this activity. You don’t have to worry about finding good trails, as these guides know all the best places to go. Most touring services will also teach you the basics of how each machine works, so if you are a beginner you can get the most out of your ATVing experience. All the necessary equipment is provided, too, for complete safety. Browse the listed outfitters and suppliers to find how your off-roading can be the best yet.