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TravelBuddy

Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

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The Million Dollar Highway: A Scenic Drive Through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

The Million Dollar Highway, also known as US Highway 550, is a 25-mile stretch of road that winds its way through the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. This iconic highway is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, rich mining history, and challenging driving conditions. Named for the millions of dollars in gold and silver ore that were once extracted from the surrounding mountains, the Million Dollar Highway is a must-see destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors and the thrill of a scenic drive.

The Road’s History

The Million Dollar Highway was built in the late 1800s by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad to connect the mining towns of Silverton and Ouray. The road was originally designed to transport heavy mining equipment and supplies to the towns, which were booming with mining activity at the time. The road’s construction was a massive undertaking, requiring the use of dynamite and heavy machinery to blast through the rugged terrain. Today, the road remains a testament to the engineering feats of the past and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Scenic Drive

The Million Dollar Highway is a thrilling drive that takes you through some of the most beautiful and remote areas of Colorado. The road begins in the town of Silverton, a former mining town that is now a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. From Silverton, the road winds its way up to the top of Red Mountain Pass, where you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The road then descends into the Uncompahgre Valley, passing through the town of Ouray, which is known for its natural hot springs and stunning mountain scenery.

Challenges of the Drive

While the Million Dollar Highway is a scenic drive, it’s not for the faint of heart. The road is narrow and winding, with steep drop-offs and hairpin turns that require careful driving. The road is also subject to closure during the winter months due to heavy snowfall and avalanches. Additionally, the road is not paved in some areas, which can make for a bumpy ride. However, the challenges of the drive are well worth the stunning views and sense of accomplishment that come with navigating this iconic highway.

Things to Do

In addition to the scenic drive, there are plenty of things to do and see along the Million Dollar Highway. Some popular attractions include:

  • Silverton: This former mining town is now a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike, bike, or take a train ride through the surrounding mountains.
  • Ouray: This charming town is known for its natural hot springs and stunning mountain scenery. You can soak in the hot springs, hike to the nearby waterfalls, or take a scenic drive through the surrounding mountains.
  • Red Mountain Pass: This mountain pass is a popular spot for hiking and mountain biking. You can also take in the stunning views from the top of the pass.
  • Ghost towns: The Million Dollar Highway passes through several ghost towns, including the abandoned mining town of Animas Forks. You can explore the ruins of the town and learn about its rich mining history.

Conclusion

The Million Dollar Highway is a must-see destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors and the thrill of a scenic drive. With its stunning views, rich mining history, and challenging driving conditions, this iconic highway is a true Colorado treasure. Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or just looking for a day trip from Denver, the Million Dollar Highway is an experience you won’t soon forget. So pack up your car, fill up the gas tank, and get ready for the drive of a lifetime on the Million Dollar Highway.

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