Driving the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado

The Million Dollar Highway in Colorado takes you through Durango, Silverton, and Ouray. Part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway the Million Dollar Highway is one of best roads to drive in the US. The Million Dollar Highway will take you about 2 hours (one-way) and contains over 65 miles of beautiful roads along mountains.


What is the Million Dollar Highway?

The Million Dollar Highway is an incredible stretch of road located in Colorado. More specifically the Million Dollar Highway is a section of the San Juan Skyway that takes you between Ouray Colorado and Durango, Colorado.

You’ll find yourself on sides of mountains and enjoying incredible views as you drive the Million Dollar Highway. The stretch oh highway will take you about 2 hours to drive one-way on and is located about 6-hours from Denver.

The Million Dollar Highway on Google Maps

Tips for Driving the Million Dollar Highway

Here are a few tips for your road trip on the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado.

  • The road is 70 miles one way and there are gas stations alone the way in Silverton, Durango and Ouray but it’s worth fueling up before driving the road so you won’t have to stop.
  • Make sure to be up to date on the current weather conditions since parts of the road could be closed. There are also Colorado highway cams you can check to see current conditions.
  • There is a paid audio tour if you want to learn about the history while on your drive.

What You’ll See on the Million Dollar Highway

Along the way you’ll see plenty of old gold mines, beautiful mountain views, and lots of curvy steep roads. If you’re looking for a day trip or taking a road trip through Colorado the Million Dollar Highway is well worth the trip.

Old mine on the hills (taken from a drone)

The route I took for the drive started in Durango and headed up to Ouray. About 15 miles from Durango you’ll enter the San Juan National Forest where the views really start to get stunning.

San Juan National Forest sign

You’ll see plenty of areas to pull off to take photos as you drive though the forest. It was hard for me not to stop at every one! One of the largest overlooks on the route is Molas Overlook.

View of Molas lake from Molas Overlook

As you head through Molas Pass and its overlook you’ll have sweeping 360 views of mountains. As you head through the National Forest you’ll make your way to Silverton.

Silverton, Colorado

Probably the most popular stretch of the highway is the area between Ouray and Silverton. Along the route you’ll see plenty of abandoned mining buildings like the Larson Bros Mine.

One of my favorite areas was the curvy road in the Hendrick Gulch near Crystal Lake. If you have a drone you’ll want to pull over before and photography the road.

As you get near Ouray you’ll pass over Bear Creek Falls which also an overlook so you can view the falls. This overlook provides a stunning view of the Abrams Mountain.

At the other end of the Million Dollar Highway you’ll find Ouray. Also known as Switzerland of America which has plenty of stunning peaks around the city.

Switzerland of America sign

Ouray has a couple of cute stores and a brewery you can stop at when you’re at the end of the highway. Plus there are plenty of overlooks to see the city and enjoy the views.

Ouray, Colorado (drone aerial)

No matter if you start in Silverton, Durango, or Ouray the Million Dollar Highway is well worth doing. Durango and Ouray offer plenty of restaurants and shops to take a break if you plan on making a day trip on the highway. If you’re anywhere in the area driving the Million Dollar Highway is well worth it. If you have more time you can do the full San Juan Skyway but the loop takes several hours.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Million Dollar Highway

Why Do They Call It the Million Dollar Highway?

The road is dubbed the The Million Dollar Highway because of its cost to build, gold ore on the route, and million dollar views of the San Juan mountains.

Is Million Dollar Highway dangerous?

If people don’t pay attention, the Million Dollar Highway can be dangerous. The road has steep drops, narrow lanes, and tight turns that can be hard for drivers who aren’t used to them. But if you drive carefully and follow the rules of the road, you should be able to enjoy the beautiful drive without any trouble.

What is the best time to drive on Million Dollar Highway?

The summer is the best time to drive on Million Dollar Highway because the weather is nice and there isn’t much snow on the road. But if you want to avoid crowds and don’t mind snow, you can drive on the highway in the winter, but be ready for icy and snowy roads.

What are some of the must-see sights on Million Dollar Highway?

Some of the best places to see on Million Dollar Highway are Red Mountain Pass, which has stunning views of the mountains around it, and Silverton, an old mining town that has kept the architecture and charm of the Victorian era.

What kind of vehicles are allowed on Million Dollar Highway?

Million Dollar Highway is open to cars, motorcycles, RVs, and other types of vehicles. But because the roads are rough, drivers of big vehicles should be extra careful and go slowly.

Can I drive on Million Dollar Highway if I have a fear of heights?

If you are afraid of heights, it can be hard to drive on Million Dollar Highway. Some parts of the road do not have guardrails and have steep drops offs. But if you really want to drive on the highway, you can go slowly and stop at pull-off areas to take in the sights without getting too overwhelmed.

Is there a fee or toll to drive on Million Dollar Highway?

No, you don’t have to pay anything to drive on Million Dollar Highway. Anyone can drive on it for free because it is a public road.

What should I bring with me when driving on Million Dollar Highway?

Even in the summer, you should bring warm clothes when driving on Million Dollar Highway because the temperature can drop at higher elevations. You should also bring a lot of water and snacks because there aren’t many places to buy them along the way. Also, bringing a map or GPS device is always a good idea in case you get lost or need directions.

What are some of the nearby attractions to visit after driving on Million Dollar Highway?

After driving on Million Dollar Highway, you can go to the hot springs in Ouray, take a scenic train ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, or see ancient cliff dwellings and archaeological sites in Mesa Verde National Park.


Million Dollar Highway Photos

Here are more pictures of the Million Dollar Highway. Including plenty of drone aerial photos from the drive.


I hope you enjoyed my snowy trip through the Million Dollar Highway.

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