We made the loop drive in a PT Cruiser (and even drove partway around the East Willow Creek loop). Got a thumbs up from a Jeep driver, relieved to see us, because then he knew he could make it himself.
After going past the mining museum, be sure to stop and look at the billboard at the beginning of the loop. Notice that the very large rock outcropping in front of you is in one of the photos there, with multi-story buildings all around it, which have all since disintegrated into the rubble around the terraces, with bits of the timbers showing in places.
The next site, Commodore Mine, boggles the mind. Such massive structures and railway lines perched on these steep slopes makes one wonder at the determination it took to achieve this.
On the drive itself, the views are spectacular, with one mine ruin after another, and plenty of critters strolling near and across the roads. Though the loop is only 17 miles, if you're watching the sights at all, it will take an hour at the very least to complete (it took us more than 2). But a little more than halfway around, salvation! The signs for the "Last Chance Mine" announce Restrooms! Technically a nicely decorated outhouse, but very welcome nonetheless.
If you choose to make this short detour, you won't be sorry. Mink the dog will greet you, and Karen will make you feel like they were waiting just for you. She is very knowledgeable about the area mines, and all of the stones, ores and fossils they have on display for collectors or souvenir seekers. Step onto the deck for a breathtaking view of steep slopes, more mine buildings, and a waterfall far below.
As you get to site 12, the Bachelor Town Site, the San Luis valley opens up in front of you for a fantastic photo op. Don't miss it!
Definitely worth the drive up to Creede, and don't let the SUV's intimidate you. If our little car could do it with no trouble, so can yours.