Adventure & History: Million Dollar Highway
The canyon-clinging stretch of spectacular roadway between Silverton, Durango and Ouray is called “The Million Dollar Highway” either because it cost so much to build, the amount of gold ore that remained in the roadway’s fill or the figurative price for those amazing San Juan Mountain views.
There are special places and unique vistas around nearly every Colorado corner. You can help ensure these places exist for generations to come by staying on roads and trails, keeping speeds in check, leaving campsites and picnic spots just as you found them, and following instructional signs while you’re out and about in our state.
Some call the mountain town of Ouray the Switzerland of America, as it’s situated in a river valley at nearly 8,000 feet, surrounded by the snow-capped San Juan Mountains. You almost expect to hear yodeling echo from these high hills.
Fellin Park — the Ouray Hot Springs Park — is located just south of the natural hot-mineral springs pool, a perfect place to relax and soak up the scenery. The gazebo and picnic area are available.
The Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway, a network of four wheel drive roads that connect Lake City, Ouray, and Silverton, traverses passes up to 12,800 feet while showcasing old mines, ghost towns, natural wonders, beautiful wildflowers, and abundant wildlife.
When riding OHVs through the Alpine Loop, make sure you follow Colorado's off-roading motto of "Stay the Trail."
Take Dallas Creek Road 14 miles to the Blue Lakes Trailhead. The lower Lake is a rewarding destination for a day hike of 6.6 miles round trip with an altitude gain of 1,600 feet.
Take the highway from Durango on to the alpine mining town of Silverton, where you'll stay the night.
Stroll the shops, cafes and saloons of this old mining town.