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.