The Million Dollar Highway
Today I need some advise. My son and I are planning
a drive around the "San Juan Skyway" in southwest Colorado
next May.(Late May) I'm told the drive between Durango and
Ouray is ultra terrifying, especially Red Mountain Pass and
it's switchbacks. Is this true? Somebody mentioned that it is better to drive the Million Dollar Highay heading south
rather than north. Does it really matter? I've been through
Colorado before, including Cortez and Durango, but never on
I recently drove the "Ortega Highway", SH 74, from San
Juan Capistrano to Lake Elsinore, CA. I was told it would be
scary and dangerous, but the only thing scary about that
drive was the locals who love to tailgate. How would US 550
compare to CA SH 74? Are there lots of places to turn out
and stop to catch your breath and let tailgaters pass?
Please help. Moderator Bob? Anybody?
Only moderately terrifying.
I may not be the one to answer this question as I could land an AIRPLANE on most of the mountain roads I have seen -- REALLY THOUGH -- I'm absolutely certain you have been on roads much skinnier, rougher and twistier than US550. It is a wide and smooth federally-maintained roadway, and as I recall it has adequate shoulders. It is definitely a high altitude road -- and it is definitely a curvy one -- but I would not in a million years define it as "terrifying" (well, maybe if I was in a truck with bad brakes). In my opinion, it's a DO NOT MISS. I have encountered snow storms on this road in the summer, but never to the point I had traction problems (and the snow only added to the thrill and the adventure). I'd drive it either direction without any concern. I don't know the road in CA you refer to, so I can't answer that question, but you have my opinion in general! Bob
In most cases, not in any way
This is an easy drive -- beautiful, but not scary in any way -- (unless you manage to hit it in February blizard with 20 feet visibility with sufficient ice to make it feel like ice-skating -- then it is sufficient to raise one's blood pressure.) For more info check out our stories about the region: <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/million.htm">Red Mountain Pass<a/> and the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/durango.htm">Durango Train<a/>.
I feel a little better about the trip. Next time
you're in SO-CAL, try the Ortega Highway. It's a nice, senic
ride, not spectacular, but a senic thrill none the less.
Thanks again, Randy.
If you're looking for scary, I can recommend many roads to try out. Cerro Noroeste road past Pine Mtn. Club, Breckenridge Road up to Lake isabella, G16 (Carmel Valley road) and Sonora and Sherman Pass. Those make Ortega look like the I-5 by comparison. But for a nice scenic drive, Ortega is nice, Angeles Crest, Rim of the World, and even Mullholland are all very nice drives.
Go for a ride
Man, I've gotta get over there! These sound like MY kind of roads! :)
SH 74 is dangerous for other reasons
I know that highway well after working for the Forest Service in the Trabuco Ranger District some years ago. The danger comes from the many turns and blind corners where usually local motorcyclists like to race the mountain. Often times, this causes someone to leave the road, and as you could tell by the terrain, theres not much soft dirt to crash into.
The million dollar hway has been well maintained, however, and I dont believe its nearly as dangerous as ortega. One thing you should not miss on your trip is the train ride from Durango to Silverton. It goes along a canyon below the 1,000,000 hway, but is absolutely breathtaking. If you have a day to spare, try it!
Again, I would not worry too much about the roads being terrifying....just dont look down! HAVE FUN
THAT'S what they told me about skydiving!
Funny, but right above the ortega Highway was where my wife and I took our first date......Skydiving! Then she took me home to meet the parents..."Mom, Dad, this is Dave....he's 11 years older than me and we just went skydiving...." Yes, I was the proverbial parental nightmare
US 550 through silverton
I guess scary is a relative term.
http://freespace.virgin.net/john.cletheroe/usa_can/driving/mountain.htm lists parts of the drive as being between 3 and 5 on a scale of 0 to 5. Yes, the road is well maintained. If you drive the speed limit and pay close attention, you won't have any problem. The first time I went through was in the summer. It was the kind of ride that demanded you pay attention to the driving. I was somewhat scared and fairly exhausted. I just finished the drive a week after a snowstorm. Most of the snow was gone and it was well sanded. Still, it scared the heck out of me.