Where Does the Million Dollar Highway Start?
The Million Dollar Highway is a renowned stretch of road that winds through the breathtaking San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado, USA. This scenic highway, officially known as US Route 550, is famous for its jaw-dropping views, hairpin turns, and sheer drops that will leave even the most seasoned drivers in awe and wonder. But where does this million-dollar road begin?
The Million Dollar Highway starts in the charming town of Durango, Colorado. Durango is nestled in the Animas River Valley, surrounded by towering peaks and lush forests. It is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an array of recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting. Durango serves as an excellent starting point for those embarking on the Million Dollar Highway journey.
Leaving Durango, the highway begins its ascent into the San Juan Mountains, taking drivers through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the United States. The first notable section of the highway is called Coal Bank Pass, which sits at an elevation of 10,640 feet (3,243 meters). As you climb higher, the road becomes steeper and more winding, offering stunning vistas of the surrounding peaks and valleys.
Continuing north, the highway reaches Molas Pass, another breathtaking section that sits at an elevation of 10,910 feet (3,325 meters). This pass rewards travelers with panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. The road then descends into the charming town of Silverton, a historic mining town that exudes old-world charm and offers a glimpse into Colorado’s rich mining heritage.
From Silverton, the Million Dollar Highway continues its journey, taking drivers through some of the most treacherous and awe-inspiring sections of the road. The next notable section is called Red Mountain Pass, which sits at an elevation of 11,018 feet (3,358 meters). This part of the highway is notorious for its hairpin turns, steep cliffs, and narrow lanes precariously perched on the mountain slopes. It is not for the faint of heart, but the views are absolutely worth the adrenaline rush.
As the highway winds its way north, it passes through the charming town of Ouray, often referred to as the “Switzerland of America” due to its stunning alpine beauty. Ouray is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering excellent hiking trails, hot springs, and ice climbing opportunities. It is a perfect place to take a break and soak in the natural beauty of the San Juan Mountains.
The final leg of the Million Dollar Highway leads to the town of Montrose, where the highway officially ends. Montrose is a gateway to several national parks and recreational areas, making it an ideal base for exploring the natural wonders of western Colorado.
Q: Is the Million Dollar Highway dangerous?
A: The Million Dollar Highway is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the United States due to its steep inclines, sharp turns, and narrow lanes. However, with caution and careful driving, it can be navigated safely. It is recommended to drive during daylight hours and be prepared for unpredictable weather conditions.
Q: Why is it called the Million Dollar Highway?
A: The origin of the name “Million Dollar Highway” is uncertain, but there are several theories. Some believe it refers to the cost of constructing the road, while others suggest it was named after the spectacular views that are worth a million dollars. Regardless of its origins, the name perfectly captures the grandeur and beauty of the road.
Q: Can I drive the Million Dollar Highway in winter?
A: The Million Dollar Highway is open year-round, but it can be treacherous during winter months due to heavy snowfall and icy conditions. It is advisable to check weather and road conditions before embarking on the journey and be prepared with appropriate winter driving equipment.
Q: Are there any services along the Million Dollar Highway?
A: Services such as gas stations, restaurants, and accommodations are available in towns along the highway, including Durango, Silverton, and Ouray. However, it is advisable to plan ahead and ensure you have enough fuel and supplies, as some sections of the road are remote with limited services.
In conclusion, the Million Dollar Highway is a breathtaking road that starts in Durango, Colorado, and winds through the majestic San Juan Mountains. It offers travelers a chance to witness some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the United States. However, it is important to exercise caution and be prepared for the challenging conditions that come with this exhilarating journey. So, buckle up and get ready for an unforgettable adventure on the Million Dollar Highway.