Million Dollar Highway
In May, about how long does it take to get from Montrose to Durango Colorado over the Million Dollar Highway (U.S 550): We want to make the 9am Train Departure from Durango, so about what time would we need to leave Montrose? Thanks
Can be slow going.
This is a high altitude mountain road for much of its length, lots of curves and a couple of passes. I'd allow about 2 hours and 45 minutes at least. If you need to be at the Durango station by 8:30, leave at about 5:45 AM.
You can sometimes do the route in as little as 2:15, but that is cutting it close. I have encountered snow storms and ice on this route as late as Memorial Day -- and I know they have them in June sometimes also.
The train is a great adventure. My advice is to take it only one way, however, especially if you have children. It moves very slow, and the scenery, while beautiful, is the same both directions. The ride gets to be tedious toward the end of the day, unless you are such a steam train buff that you can't imagine doing ANYTHING other than ride the train...
You can buy a one-way train ticket, and they'll sell you the Durango-return trip via motorcoach. Just a suggestion.
If you like cowboy stuff and western music (like Sons of the Pioneers), make reservations for dinner after your train ride at the Bar-D Wranglers (Durango). They serve a family-style "chuckwagon" feed and then the Wranglers do a comedy and music show. Lots of fun.
When are you planning to go?
All of Bob's remarks are on the mark -- except if this trip is anytime in the next three months -- better allow a minimum of three hours. If the roads are icy at all, you need to slow down -- no more than 35 mph in the pass areas. Believe me, this is a gorgeous route, but not one that you can travel quickly in the winter months. (Does the notion of "cliff-side" speak to you?)