Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

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CaptPenner
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Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by CaptPenner » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:52 am

Arriving in Lake City June22 and wanted to take my son on the loop, and maybe hit Uncompahgre. I’ve done both in late July, but was wondering if the loop and Nellie Creek TH would be accessible in a 2WD SUV? Last time I did it was about 8 years ago in a Tacoma with 4wd, but I never used the 4wd. Saw Suburus and other similar vehicles on the loop. Didn’t know what the road conditions were in mid June typically.

Background story, I am leading 10 youth and adults to Philmont and my son and are thinking of staying behind to play in CO some. Renting a vehicle in DEN, so 4WD is difficult to find and cost prohibitive. Would consider renting a Jeep in Lake City for a day or two if needed.
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by nsaladin » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:01 am

Where all are you trying to go? Use the loop to get to Ouray and Silverton? I wouldn’t take a 2WD to do that or attempt Nelly Creek. The river crossings could be tricky with 2WD. Not to mention clearance on a lot of obstacles, not all SUV’s are created equal.
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CaptPenner
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by CaptPenner » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:08 am

Agreed and understood. I am doing the round trip from Lake City out past the lake towards Handies, through Cinnamon Pass, Engineer Pass, and back to Lake City.
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by cottonmountaineering » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:10 am

for nellie creek, a 2wd wont reach the upper trailhead

handies, redcloud/sunshine are 2wd accessible
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CaptPenner
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by CaptPenner » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:28 am

Ok, I saw Subarus on the loop in July. I guess what I’m asking is what are typical road conditions in mid-late June. I have reserved a Subaru, but am debating getting a Jeep in Lake City for 2 days.
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by cottonmountaineering » Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:33 am

CaptPenner wrote:
Fri Apr 16, 2021 11:28 am
Ok, I saw Subarus on the loop in July. I guess what I’m asking is what are typical road conditions in mid-late June. I have reserved a Subaru, but am debating getting a Jeep in Lake City for 2 days.
june will be muddy, they usually plow the last portions clear of snow sometime in june
a 4wd is recommended
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by 9patrickmurphy » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:56 pm

A subaru (with clearance, i.e. Forester/Outback/Crosstrek) will get you to the trailheads you need. It will not get you to the upper NellieCk 4WF TH unless you are a great driver, have great tires, and know the vehicle well. People do it but the consensus is that it is very risky. I wouldn't take an unmodified Subaru down to AnimasFks from Lake City over Cinnamon or Engineer, but you could easily get to either pass (terrain is more difficult on the other side). Renting a jeep/side-by-side would let you do the full alpine loop and would also let you get to upper NellieCk.
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by ncxhjhgvbi » Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:09 pm

Another option would be to rent through National and join the Emerald Club. They charge the midsize rate but you can take any car in the designated spots. I have had luck getting 4x4s at the DIA location through this method before I bought my own (though it is always going to be a crapshoot: first come first served). They usually have Frontiers and F150s though, and you only pay the midsize rate. If you show up and cant get a 4x4 though you can always get a car with good milage and then rent a 4x4 in Lake City as you said.
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by IntrepidXJ » Fri Apr 16, 2021 2:44 pm

Side-by-sides have really tore up parts of the Alpine Loop in the past couple of years, especially the Ouray side of Engineer Pass. It's not the same place it was 8 years ago, and I wouldn't recommend going over the passes with 2WD.
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CaptPenner
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by CaptPenner » Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:54 pm

Thanks for the input from everyone. Sounds like the Loop isn’t as passable as it was last time I was there, and that the early summer thaw may still be in full effect as opposed to the dry late July conditions I’m used to. I think my plan is to rent a cheap midsize SUV at DIA, and drive to Lake City and rent a Jeep there for 2 days. This would work good because we could lock all our gear in the midsize in LC and take just what we need in the Jeep. I’ll start working on a Jeep reservation soon. Any suggestions?
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by Wentzl » Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:55 pm

Alpine Loop is not something you plan to hit "just right".

When it is snowed in, it is impassable.

Summertime, any subaru (I have seen a mid '70's Caprice up there doing just fine) can get by.

asking "can a 4x4 make it in the off season?", It is like asking:

"If I stand outside in a thunderstorm, will I get struck by lightening?"

Try your luck, or don't, but don't ask and expect an answer worth s***.
Shorter of Breath and One Day Closer . . .
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Re: Uncompahgre & Alpine Loop

Post by DaveLanders » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:34 pm

Wentzl's post is unnecessarily pessimistic. The OP said he was arriving on June 22. By then the Alpine Loop will be passable for sure. If it doesn't melt out naturally, then it will get plowed out by the various county road departments, because jeep tours and jeep rentals are such big business in Lake City, Ouray and Silverton. My understanding is that the plowing gets paid for by a fee that gets added to the price of jeep rentals in the area
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