Wild Lands of the West | The BLM, National Geographic Magazine: Mountain Drama

Bird's-eye view of mountain range in winter with shaft of light from a cloud.

Shafts of silver, not sunlight, lured miners into Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, which are part of the Rocky Mountain range. Today the adventurous can follow the Alpine Loop, a sixty-five mile, four-wheel-drive only, rugged Bureau of Land Management (BLM) back country byway, which offers more than a glimmer of mountain splendor.

Tourism is a major part of the economy today as outdoor adventurers take old trails that link historic mining camps and ghost towns. The San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests cover portions of the wilderness that are not designated BLM lands.