Off-highway vehicles are a popular way to see backcountry vistas unreachable by car, especially in high mountain areas.
Chaffee County provides ample opportunities to explore the area’s historical and scenic places via OHVs.
Know before you go:
Public lands in Chaffee County are governed by the county, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management.
In general several regulations are the same in all jurisdictions:
- Colorado residents must display current Colorado OHV registration stickers.
- Nonresidents are not required to register their OHVs.
- All OHVs must also display a current Colorado OHV use permit sticker.
Permits cost $25.25 and are available online at cpwshop.com/privilegepos.page, in Salida at Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area and several local retailers and in Buena Vista at Buena Vista True Value, 401 U.S. 24 N., 395-8067.
OHVs are required to be equipped with:
• A muffler in constant operation and properly maintained.
• A spark arrester in good working order and approved by the USFS.
• A braking system that may be operated by hand or foot.
• At least one lighted headlamp and one lighted tail lamp.
In Chaffee County any person operating an OHV on a designated county road must have a valid motor vehicle license and be at least 16 years old.
OHVs operating on Chaffee County roads are considered motor vehicles and should be covered by at least minimum liability insurance.
Weather can change quickly, especially in the mountains. Plan to dress in layers and have extra clothing, including rain gear, handy.
Always wear protective gear such as helmet, gloves, boots, goggles. That also applies to passengers, including children.
Carry an emergency kit with tools such as a hand winch, jack, shovel and tow strap, food, water, flashlight and sunscreen.
Carry a first aid kit.
Carry a cellphone. Although voice service may not be available, 911 texts can be received by local emergency services from most places.
Carry an up-to-date trail map. The U.S. Forest Service offers maps at the Salida Ranger District.
Stay on established roads and trails.
Where to go:
Fourmile Travel Management Area – Contains nearly 200 miles of road and trails and can be accessed from Buena Vista via CR 371/375 and the Barbara Whipple Trail on the east side of Main Street.
The southern portion of the Fourmile Area can be accessed at CRs 301, 300 and 185.
For a detailed map visit garna.org/friends-of-fourmile/.
Aspen Ridge – A popular place for autumn leaf peepers. From Johnson Village on U.S. 24/285, drive about 9 miles east to the FSR 307 turnoff and head south. Follow the signs for Aspen Ridge, along FSRs 307, 187 and 185.
Tincup Pass – The route runs over the Continental Divide to the town of Tincup in Gunnison County. Start from the 1880s mining town of St. Elmo (about 17 miles west of U.S. 285 on CR 162). Cross the bridge in the center of town and follow CR 267 over the Divide. Some areas are technically challenging so mountain riding experience is recommended.
Hancock Pass – From CR 162 take a left on CR 295, just before St. Elmo. The road is part of the Denver South Park & Pacific railroad route to the Alpine Tunnel. Past several old mining structures, the townsite of Hancock is about 7 miles up the road. From there take CR 299 to Hancock Pass. The trail is narrow and steep and is recommended for experienced riders only.
Grizzly Lake – The trail winds up Grizzly Gulch past historic buildings to a timberline lake. From CR 295, take the first left onto CR 295. The lakes are about 2 miles up the trail. Large boulders and steep grades make this a ride only for experienced riders.
Mount Antero – About 3 miles before St. Elmo on CR 162 just past the turnoff for Alpine, a log pile marks the beginning of CR 277. Turn off onto CR 278 to continue up the mountain. The route, built in the 1950s as a mining access, is steep and rocky and has many switchbacks above timberline. It is recommended for experienced mountain riders only. For a shorter trip try taking the CR 277.2 turnoff to Baldwin Lake.
For more information visit:
USFS – Salida Ranger District, 5575 Cleora Road. Call 539-3591 or visit fs.usda.gov/detail/psicc/about-forest/districts/?cid=fsm9_032697.
CPW – Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, 307 W. Sackett Ave. Call 539-7289 or visit cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/ArkansasHeadwatersRecreationArea.
BLM – Royal Gorge Field Office 3028 E. Main St., Cañon City. Call 719-269-8500 or visit blm.gov/office/royal-gorge-field-office.
Chaffee County Visitors Bureau – Visit colorfulcolorado.com/vacation/off-road-jeep-atv/.