SubscribeAvailable Now
Get in Gear: How to Start Off-Roading in Colorado

Beginner Trails: White River National Forest

Get a feel for four-wheelers during a guided tour of the high passes and alpine meadows surrounding historic Camp Hale.

 •  

It’s been 55 years since the U.S. military used a wide valley tucked between Leadville and Minturn as a training ground for mountain and wintertime warfare. Yet some of the remnants of this installation, dubbed Camp Hale and used by the famous 10th Mountain Division, are still visible today. At least, that’s what Nova Guides’ tour leaders will tell you during your pre-ATV-ride orientation. History buffs might be left feeling underwhelmed by the ruins—there’s not much left to see—but those seeking an adrenaline rush will be more than satisfied with the program. Tours ($175 for drivers, $85 per passenger), which last two hours, leave from the Lodge at Camp Hale and wind up through bumpy, rock-filled paths in the White River National Forest. From Ptarmigan Pass, the blown-open panorama affords views of Copper Mountain in the distance. The riding here isn’t at all scary or particularly challenging, but having a guide to follow allows novice drivers to mimic the line and enjoy the ride without fretting over directions. Plus, Nova’s guides are well versed in the area’s geography, wildlife, and even a few tales from the annals of Camp Hale, if the historian in your family wants to ask.

Dress The Part: Most outfitters, Nova Guides included, provide helmets, but it’s always smart to bring goggles or sunglasses; wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and multiple layers on top; and stick a bottle of water, a rain jacket, and a bandana to keep dust out of your nose and mouth in your backpack. Before COVID-19, Nova Guides’ morning and midday tours included lunch at the Lodge at Camp Hale, but tucking a granola bar in your backpack is a good idea regardless of whether or not lunch will be served.

What We're Reading

Newsletters

Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone.

Sign Up