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ATV Historic Color Tour enters its fifteenth year.  Experience the rugged terrain, fall colors and historical sites in the heart of fourteener country.

Riders will experience four days of self-guided tours through the awe-inspiring backcountry of the Collegiate Peaks range with 12 fourteen thousand foot mountains!  The greatest concentration of 14,000 ft. peaks on the continent.

Participants will be able to explore old mining camps and ghost towns via high mountain passes where gold and silver ore were carried by mule wagons to the railroads.  Buena Vista is minutes away from the San Isabel National Forest with its 1,109,782 acres of true splendor and over 700 miles of trails to explore.  Our town is also the gateway to the 148-mile long Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area with its Gold Medal fishing. To make things even more enticing we have two Hot Springs to relax in after a thrilling day’s ride.

The ATV Historic Color Tour is timed to coincide with the fall colors, the aspens are all aglow with gold and red tones.  Each morning riders choose their route, there are many to select from.  There are no more than 50 riders allowed on the same trail. The tour is run differently than most as there are no guides, each rider chooses their self-guided ride and goes at their own pace.  Each trail has volunteer outriders to answer questions and make sure everyone gets back each night!

The ATV Historic Color Tour is hosted by the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center. The Tour is operated with permits from the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. It is setup as a self-guided event for Off-Highway vehicles. Most participants ride ATV’s, or side-by-side UTV’s, but “Jeeps” are also welcome. If someone in your group wants to ride an OHV motorcycle, that is allowed, if  they ride with the group.

What to Wear

South central Colorado weather in late September is usually cool in the mornings (low to mid 40’s), then warming up in the afternoons (60’s – 70’s).  Buena Vista is a mountain town at 8,000 feet above sea level.  The humidity is usually low, the sun shines a lot and anytime you’re in the sun, it feels warm.

Most of the riding is between 8,500 – 10,500 feet above sea level with a little at 13,000+.  The best plan is to dress in layers and bring rain gear in case of changing conditions.

Remember the helmets, gloves, boots, goggles and protective clothing including long pants, they will keep you comfortable and help prevent serious injuries. Colorado has a variety of terrains and climates and the weather can change rapidly. Carry an emergency repair kit, food, water, warm clothing, an area map and guide, a flashlight and sunscreen.

For most of the rides you’ll need to bring your own lunch and drinks for an on-the-trail snack.  Remember to drink plenty of water.

What's Included

Your registration fee includes:

  • Four breakfasts (Wed-Sat)
  • One event Tee-shirt
  • Saturday night Pig Roast
  • Poker Run and ATV Rodeo

The event kicks off Tuesday evening at the “packet pick-up”. Detailed information, tickets you will need, T-shirts, etc. are all in your packet and one-on-one briefings are held to answer questions.

Each morning of the Tour, breakfast will be served at the American Legion Hall 338 N. Railroad, Buena Vista.  At breakfast participants sign up for their choice of the available rides. The ride list changes each day.  This is a terrific way to get to know the local outriders and learn more about the community and area atv rides.

On Saturday, all tour participants are invited to the Saturday evening  get-together and dinner featuring a fun pig roast, ATV rodeo and more.

What to Ride

Because of the high altitude, some OHV’s with engines that use carburetors may experience performance difficulties unless they are properly jetted.  Fuel injected engines in good working order, normally do not have any issues.

  • Colorado law requires ALL non-licensed vehicles using OHV trails to display a current Colorado OHV permit.  The permit (sticker) costs $25.25.  Permit information from the State can be found on their website.  Permits are available for purchase at Timberline Motorsports 29770 US-24, Buena Vista.
  • All of the trails are open to side-by-sides.  One trail is limited to vehicles less than 50 inches wide. 

  • All of the trails for the event can be ridden on an APPROPRIATE OHV motorcycle.  “Appropriate” means, Enduro/Motorcross type bikes and some Dual Sport bikes.  Riding on the trails is NOT RECOMMENDED for any motorcycle bigger or heavier than a Suzuki DRZ 400.  It is not required that an OHV motorcycle be street legal.


Get ready for tons of fun with rides Wednesday – Saturday.  Breakfast on ride days is included. The breakfast are served by non-profit organizations, so not only do you get a delicious meal but you are supporting our community and these terrific organizations. Attending the breakfast is a good way to meet participants and outriders, along with getting the route information for the day. We appreciate you letting us know what breakfasts you plan on attending so that our awesome breakfast sponsors can better plan. 

Tuesday Check-In – 5:00PM – 7:00PM at the VFW Hall 27318 CR 314, Buena Vista, Colorado 81211 (Johnson Village area)

Wednesday Breakfast – 7:30AM – 9:00AM The American Legion is serving biscuits and gravy and more. This breakfast benefits American Legion, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.

Wednesday Ride – 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Thursday Breakfast – 7:30AM – 9:00AM  The BV Optimists will be serving pancakes, sausage, and juice. This breakfast will benefit the BV Optimists Club who support the youth of community youth by providing  youth programs, awards, support and scholarships.

Thursday Ride – 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Friday Breakfast  – 7:30AM – 9:00AM  High Country Bank will serve breakfast burritos. This breakfast will benefit the BV Gives a 501 (c)(3), grants from this fund benefits charitable projects in the Buena Vista community.

Friday Ride – 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Saturday Breakfast – 7:30AM – 9:00AM  Mini Blessing’s is serving breakfast casserole, fruit and more.  Mini Blessing’s mission is providing equine assisted activities and equine assisted therapy to the Central Colorado region.

Saturday Ride – 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Saturday Poker Tour – ?- 5:00PM Downtown Buena Vista. (This starts when you want to explore the town off of your ATV.)

Saturday ATV Rodeo – 3:00PM – 5:00PM VFW Hall in Johnson Village.

Saturday Pig Roast – 5:00PM – 6:30PM  Pig roast at the VFW Hall in Johnson Village.


All breakfast served at the American Legion Hall,  338 N Railroad St, Buena Vista, CO 81211

VFW Hall 27318 CR 314, Buena Vista, Colorado 81211 (Johnson Village area)



Each morning you’ll choose your route, there are several to select from and picking a favorite might prove impossible.  These are a couple of our top picks.

Hancock/Tincup Loop. It starts at the ghost town of St. Elmo near Buena Vista then heads up Hancock Pass over the Continental Divide.  Just on the back side of The Divide is the side trip to the Alpine Tunnel, the first ever bore through the Continental Divide. It’s a beautiful trip on the old railroad bed to where some of the buildings are still standing and the remains of the Boarding House are in a heap. Interpretive signs and photographs are on display in one of the buildings, but the tunnel is long since collapsed.

Mt. Antero/Brown’s Lake. This route will take you almost to the summit of one of the 14’ers (ride to 13,700’). It takes a few ponies to get to 13,700’ and 4WD will help get past a couple of the more interesting places.

Click here to view more ride details.

ATV’ing in 14’er Country” is the official guide book of the Color Tour. It’s full of information on the area and includes detailed maps of 14 popular routes. This 40-page book contains route maps along with a brief history of the area within the route. It also has, things to see and watch out for; where to fuel up; where to get good grub; trail etiquette; environmental concerns, etc.  Click here to order book.


Q. Who puts on the Color Tour and what is its purpose?

A. The Color Tour is a non-profit event put on by the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center.  The money raised is used by the Chamber to support this event.

Q. Are special OHV permits required?

A. All unlicensed vehicles using OHV trails in Colorado are required to display a Colorado OHV Permit, (sticker).  Even if you have an OHV Permit from your home state, you will still need a Colorado OHV permit.  OHV Vehicles with license plates are encouraged to get the permits, the money is used for trail maintenance and to support search & rescue operations. The stickers cost $25.25 and are available Tuesday night and Wednesday morning of the Tour.  If you are coming from out-of-state, the permit can also be purchased online by [clicking here].  Original registration (purchase), of in-state permits is not possible online, only renewals.

Q. Do we have to trailer?

A. Yes. There are many close by places to ride but you do have to trail from the campgrounds (trust us it’s worth it).  Routes range from alpine forest, chaparral desert, ghost towns, passes that cross over the Continental Divide, trails at or near, the summit of 13,000+ foot Mountains, etc. None of these routes are very far from Buena Vista, but to get to the trail heads, you will have to trailer.

Q. Can we ride double on a ‘single’ machine?

A. It is permitted, but please use good judgement.

Q. What elevations will we be riding?

A. Buena Vista is in a high desert valley at 8,000 feet above sea level. The routes will vary from 8,000 to near 14,000 feet.

Q. What is the weather normally like?

A. September is usually dry and sunny with cool mornings in the upper 30’s to mid 40’s and afternoon temperatures climbing to the upper 50’s to low 70’s in the valley. High elevations are usually sunny with peak temperatures in the 50’s to low 60’s. The Tour runs through some of the highest mountain ranges in the lower 48 and sometimes the high elevations get a little snow in late September, be sure to bring warm clothes. It’s usually sunny and normally when you’re in the sun it feels warm. It’s good to dress in layers so you can shed as the day warms up. (see What to Wear and Ride)

Q. Are helmets required?

A. Recommended, yes – but not required. In the unlikely event of bad weather, you will appreciate one.

Q. Can we request guides?

A. Usually. Though the Tour is designed to be self guided, many club members (called outriders) will be on the trails. You can request to ride along. But, you may get more out of the Tour if you meet other riders of your skill level and ride together. The group functions is a good time to meet people and the ride desk can assist as well. Feel free to tag along with the outriders if you want.

Q. One of our group members rides a dirt bike (OHV motorcycle), can he come on the Tour?

A. Yes. Most Tour participants will be riding ATV’s, or side-by-sides.  The Tour is meant to go at a leisurely pace, while taking in the scenery and it is expected that everyone will ride in a courteous manner at all times. (For more information see What to Wear and Ride)

Q. Can children ride their own machine?

A. That’s hard to answer.  There is no law that sets the age limit, so the responsibility falls back to whoever is responsible for the child.  The child’s experience is also a factor.  You MUST USE GOOD JUDGEMENT and the child must be kept under close supervision of an adult.

Q. Can I get the guidebook early so I can study the routes?

A. Yes. Call the Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce (719) 395-6612 or order on this site.  

A.  Are trails ok for motorcyles?

Q. Many of the trails are NOT APPROPRIATE for motorcycle riders with limited experience.

Q. What role does the Sponsors have?

A. The Sponsors contribute money and items that are given away as door prizes.  Without the sponsors there would be no Color Tour.  Please consider our sponsors when picking your lodging, camping, fuel, parts, etc.


♦ No refunds after Friday – September 15, 2017.

♦ All refunds are made to the credit card used for registration.

♦ Refunds are applicable to:
Registration fees and Guide Books that were purchased through this website and not  shipped.

♦ Refund Amounts:

100% refund for Guide Books purchased on this website and not shipped.

Cancellation request made before August 15, 2017: 
$90 refund for each registration.

Cancellation request made between August 16 and September 4, 2017:
$70 refund for each registration

Cancellation requests made September 5 – 14, 2017:
$40 refund for each registration

To request a refund, call  (719) 395-6612 or email

No Refunds for Breakfast or Dinner not attended during the tour.


Buena Vista

Chamber of Commerce

and Visitor Center

343 US Hwy 24 S, Buena Vista, CO 81211



Thank you to this year’s ATV Historic Color Tour Sponsors.  Please be sure to visit these businesses when in our area.  Click on the logo to learn more about the business.