Thursday, July 16, 2009

Million Dollar Highway In Colorado

My Roadtripping over the Million Dollar Highway was part of a Roadtrip that began in Moab, went on to my second Lake Powell Houseboat experience, after another night at the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat, just like I did the first time I houseboated, then a return to Monument Valley, back to Moab, then south to Durango, an overnight in the Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton, followed by the Million Dollar Highway the next morning, ending up in Taos that night.

I have driven a lot of mountain roads. You spend most of your life living in the state of Washington, you do a lot of mountain driving. I prefer my mountain driving to have guard rails. As you can see in the picture there are no guard rails on the Million Dollar Highway. But, I have driven many a Washington and California, mountain logging road, with no guard rails, so the Million Dollar Highway's lack was not all that unsettling.

I did not find the Million Dollar Highway as challenging to drive as the Moki Dugway, or even the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. The Million Dollar Highway does have a few moments, though, tight S-curves, a few steep drop-offs, without those reassuring guardrails, but all in all, the Million Dollar Highway is more scenic than scary.

This section of U.S. 550 is so-named due to way back in the day that it was built to better facilitate supplying mines and towns in the San Juan Mountains, a million dollars was a lot of money to spend to build a short stretch of road. Or so I've been told. Maybe it's called the Million Dollar Highway due to a million dollars worth of gold coming out of mines along the road.

Most people refer to the stretch of U.S. 550 from Silverton to Ouray as the Million Dollar Highway, but the actual Million Dollar Highway is the stretch of the road that runs south from Ouray about 12 miles through Uncompahgre Gorge, up to the summit of Red Mountain Pass. The Million Dollar Highway is part of San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.

Below is a YouTube video that will take you from Ouray to Silverton, speeding up the drive from 40 minutes to 10.


cd0103 said...

Oh my. That video made my stomach hurt. You say this road is mild? I certainly don't want to be on the ones that are worse.

Durango Roadtripping said...

Well, cd, the video make it look worse than it is. I remember only one couple mile section as being a bit nervewracking. Now if you want a scary road, the Moki Dugway in Utah, that's the best scary road I've been on, it tops any mountain logging road I've been on in Washington.

Anonymous said...

is this the same highway near Durango and Silverton? I was trying to find out what it was called. I drove this road in a Semi truck with my husband and it was scary, you couldnt pay me to do that again!!!

Kimberley Tuma said...

My husband and I just went on vacation to farmington nm and this was way we took it was scary at some spots and me being the driver I sometimes had to remind my self to breath we are making the trip once again in week and I'm looking forward to going over it again sence this time it will be twice in one day

Unknown said...

Drove this road in a little car so didn't seem bad to me. The speed limit on the road is in the 45mph range and less. Nobody was road racing so over all it was very pleasant. Drive it at night? I would definitely pass on that. I did notice they close the road during heavy snow from Silverton to Ouray.