The Million Dollar Highway is an iconic stretch of road that stretches through the Rocky Mountains and has been a popular destination for travelers since it was first built. This winding, spectacular highway connects Silverton to Ouray in Colorado and provides stunning views of majestic mountains along its route. But why is this particular stretch of highway called the Million Dollar Highway? In this blog post we’ll dive into the history behind its name as well as explore what makes it so special and provide tips on how best to experience driving or walking down this amazing roadway. So whether you’re looking for a scenic drive across North America or planning your next European vacation, take some time out to discover all that the Million Dollar Highway has to offer.
History of the Million Dollar Highway
It was originally built as part of the San Juan Skyway, a scenic route connecting Durango and Ouray. The highway earned its name from an entrepreneur named Otto Mears who wanted to create a toll road through the mountains. He promised investors that they would make “a million dollars” if they invested in his project, hence the name “Million Dollar Highway”.
Today, this iconic stretch of road is popular with travelers for its stunning views and thrilling curves. Spanning 25 miles between Silverton and Ouray, it winds through some of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain scenery including Red Mountain Pass at 11,018 feet above sea level – one of the highest points on any paved highway in North America.
The Million Dollar Highway offers breathtaking views along its entire length but there are two spots where visitors can really take advantage: Molas Pass (10,910 ft) and Coal Bank Pass (10,640 ft). Both offer spectacular panoramas of alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers against rugged peaks towering above them. As you drive up these passes you’ll be surrounded by pine forests filled with wildlife such as elk and deer while eagles soar overhead.
Driving along this winding highway can be both exhilarating and intimidating due to its narrow lanes which require extra caution when navigating tight turns or passing other vehicles going in opposite directions. But don’t let that deter you; just remember to stay alert at all times so you can enjoy your journey safely.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or simply want to take in some amazing scenery, the Million Dollar Highway won’t disappoint. It is a popular tourist destination for sightseeing purposes and many people come here for outdoor activities like camping or hiking nearby trails such as Bear Creek Trailhead or Cascade Falls Trailhead which provide access to incredible vistas overlooking valleys below. Be sure to stay alert at all times so you can enjoy your journey safely.
The Million Dollar Highway is a historic and scenic stretch of road, providing travelers with an unforgettable journey. Now let’s explore what makes it so special.
What is the Million Dollar Highway?
It’s known for its stunning views of the San Juan Mountains, winding curves that make for an exciting drive, and its rich history.
The highway was originally built as part of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad in 1883 to connect mining towns with each other and with Durango. The road was later converted into a toll road by Otto Mears who charged travelers $1 per mile to use it – hence the name “Million Dollar Highway”.
Today, the Million Dollar Highway is one of Colorado’s most popular tourist attractions due to its breathtaking scenery and challenging roads. The route passes through some of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain landscapes including Red Mountain Pass at 11,018 feet above sea level which offers spectacular views from both sides of the pass.
Along this stretch you will find numerous scenic overlooks where you can stop and take in panoramic views or snap photos along your journey. There are also several small towns such as Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride and Rico that offer unique shopping experiences as well as restaurants serving up local cuisine made from fresh ingredients sourced from nearby farms or ranches.
The Million Dollar Highway is an iconic stretch of road that offers breathtaking views, making it a must-see destination for any traveler. Let’s explore how this highway got its name in the next section.
How Did The Million Dollar Highway Get Its Name?
The Million Dollar Highway got its name from a legend that says it cost a million dollars per mile to build due to its difficult terrain and remote location. However, this is not true; the highway was actually built in 1883 by Otto Mears as part of his San Juan Extension Railroad project and only cost $200,000 to construct.
Mears had already made a fortune building railroads throughout Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona when he decided to extend his railroad into the rugged San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. The route required blasting through solid rock with dynamite and constructing bridges over deep gorges. It took two years for Mears’ crew of Chinese laborers to complete the project at an estimated cost of $200,000 – far less than the million-dollar myth suggests.
The highway became known as “the Million Dollar Highway” because people were so impressed with how expensively it seemed constructed compared to other roads in the area at that time. Despite being more than 130 years old today, many parts of this scenic stretch still look like they did when first built – testament to Mears’ engineering skills.
The Million Dollar Highway got its name due to the high cost of construction and maintenance, but it has also become a popular tourist destination because of its breathtaking views. Let’s explore what makes the Million Dollar Highway so popular.
What Makes The Million Dollar Highway So Popular?
It’s renowned for its breathtaking views and thrilling curves, making it an ideal spot to explore by car or on foot. The highway runs through some of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain scenery, including Red Mountain Pass which offers panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.
Along the way, visitors can also explore historic mining towns like Silverton and Ouray where they can learn about local history and visit old buildings that were once bustling with activity during the gold rush era. For those looking for more adventure, there are plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking trails, camping spots, fishing areas and off-roading opportunities along the route.
The Million Dollar Highway is also home to some unique attractions like Bear Creek Falls which cascades down into a stunning pool below, the Black Canyon National Park featuring rugged terrain and incredible wildlife, Telluride Ski Resort offering skiing in winter months, Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad providing scenic train rides throughout the year as well as other sites such as ghost towns, abandoned mineshafts and hot springs perfect for soaking up after a long day exploring.
The Million Dollar Highway is popular for its breathtaking views and incredible scenery, making it a must-see destination for travelers. Next up, we’ll look at whether you should take the highway north or south.
Million Dollar Highway: North or South
It is one of the most scenic and beautiful drives in America, and it’s also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state. But before you set out on your journey, there are a few things to consider when deciding whether to take the highway north or south.
The northern route begins near Ouray, CO and heads east along US-550 towards Silverton. This section of road is known for its stunning views of mountains, forests, canyons and rivers. The drive takes about two hours from start to finish with plenty of stops along the way for photos or just taking in all that nature has to offer.
If you choose to go south instead, you will begin at Durango and travel west on US-550 towards Silverton as well. This route offers more curves than its northern counterpart but still provides some incredible views including mountain passes like Molas Pass which sits at an elevation over 10 thousand feet. This drive takes around three hours depending on how many stops you make along the way so plan accordingly if time is an issue.
What To Expect On Either Route?
No matter which direction you decide to take when driving The Million Dollar Highway, expect lots of twists and turns as well as steep grades both up and down hillsides throughout your journey so be sure to pay attention while driving. Also keep an eye out for wildlife such as elk or deer who may cross your path unexpectedly during any given moment. Lastly, don’t forget about snow during winter months – even though this highway does not close due to weather conditions it can still be dangerous if not prepared properly, so check ahead before heading out on either route.
The Million Dollar Highway is a breathtaking experience, no matter which direction you take. Now let’s look at some tips for driving this incredible stretch of road.
Tips For Driving The Million Dollar Highway
Driving on the Million Dollar Highway can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s important to take some safety precautions before you hit the road. The highway is known for its winding curves and steep grades, so it’s essential to drive slowly around them. Make sure to check weather conditions before you go as well; snow and ice can make driving more difficult in certain areas of the highway.
It’s also important to watch out for wildlife crossing the road. Deer, elk, and other animals are often seen along this stretch of highway so keep your eyes peeled while driving through these areas. Don’t forget your camera either. The views from this scenic route are stunning and definitely worth capturing with a few photos or videos.
Finally, plan ahead if you’re looking for places to stop along the way. There are plenty of restaurants, gas stations, and rest stops available throughout the journey but they may not always be conveniently located near each other; so make sure you have enough fuel and snacks before embarking on your adventure.
Driving the Million Dollar Highway is an incredible experience, but it should not be taken lightly. With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to take on the challenge of a self-guided tour and explore this iconic highway.
Self-Guided Tour of the Million Dollar Highway
It is one of the most popular drives in the United States, and it offers breathtaking views of mountain peaks, forests, rivers, and canyons. The highway starts near Silverton and ends at Ouray. Along this route are many attractions to explore including Pinkerton Hot Springs, Baker’s Bridge, Haviland Lake, town of Silverton, Crystal Lake and more.
Pinkerton Hot Springs:
Located on the east side of Red Mountain Pass lies Pinkerton Hot Springs which has been known for its healing properties since 1874 when settlers first discovered it. This hot spring consists of two pools with temperatures ranging from 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit depending on weather conditions.
Named after Charles Baker who built a toll bridge over Uncompahgre Gorge in 1880 as part of his stagecoach line between Ouray and Silverton; Bakers Bridge is now open to pedestrians only but still provides spectacular views along with some great photo opportunities.
Located just off the Million Dollar Highway near Molas Pass sits Haviland Lake which was formed by glacial activity thousands years ago. This lake is surrounded by lush green meadows full of wildflowers during summer months making it an ideal spot for camping or fishing if you have time to spare while driving down this iconic highway.
As you drive southbound towards Ouray, make sure to stop at the Town of Silverton. Founded in 1876 as a mining camp during the silver rush era, today it serves as a basecamp for adventurers seeking out outdoor activities such as hiking trails around nearby mountains like Red Mountain Pass or ice climbing up frozen waterfalls during winter season.
Situated about 10 miles north from Town Of Silverton lays Crystal Lake where visitors can enjoy swimming or boating on calm waters surrounded by tall pine trees providing shade throughout day – perfect spot for those looking to take break from their long journey down Million Dollar Highway.
Lastly, we come upon our final destination – the Town of Ouray. Located right next door to the famous Box Canyon Falls Park, it offers stunning views over rocky cliffs surrounding the valley below; making it a perfect place to spend a night before heading back home after completing your self-guided tour along the world renowned Million Dollar Highway.
FAQs in Relation to Million Dollar Highway
Why do they call it the Million Dollar Highway?
It was named for its spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains and its cost to build in the late 1800s. The highway was constructed with tight curves, steep grades, and no guardrails which made it difficult to traverse but also provided stunning vistas along the way. Its construction required an estimated one million dollars at that time, hence its name: The Million Dollar Highway
How long does it take to ride the Million Dollar Highway?
The Million Dollar Highway is a stretch of US Route 550 that runs through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It spans approximately 25 miles and takes around 1 to 2 hours to drive, depending on traffic and weather conditions. The route offers stunning views of mountains, forests, rivers, and valleys as it winds its way up into the San Juan National Forest. Along the way you can stop at various overlooks for photos or just take in the breathtaking scenery. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife such as elk or deer along your journey.
Why are there no guardrails on the Million Dollar Highway?
It was built in the late 19th century as part of the San Juan Skyway, and its lack of guardrails is due to its construction on steep mountain terrain. The highway’s narrow lanes, sharp curves, and sheer drops make it dangerous for motorists, so guardrails would be impractical to install given the rugged landscape. Additionally, installing guardrails could detract from the stunning views that travelers enjoy along this iconic road.
Is the Million Dollar Highway worth it?
The Million Dollar Highway is definitely worth it. It’s a stunningly scenic stretch of road that winds through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The views are breathtaking, and there are plenty of opportunities to explore and take photos along the way. Plus, you can stop at some great local attractions like Ouray Hot Springs or Silverton Mountain for an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely drive or an adventure-filled journey, the Million Dollar Highway has something for everyone.
With its stunning views, unique history, and thrilling drive, it’s no wonder why the Million Dollar Highway remains one of the most sought-after routes in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a self-guided tour or just want to take in all the beauty this highway has to offer, there’s something here for everyone. So if you’re ready to experience one of America’s most scenic drives – don’t forget your camera – and get on the million dollar highway.
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