How to Make the Most of Your Million Dollar Highway Experience



Driving the Million Dollar Highway is a bucket list experience for many travelers. This stretch of road, officially named U.S. Route 550, winds through the rugged mountains of Colorado, offering breathtaking views and a thrilling ride. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or simply someone looking for a memorable road trip, the Million Dollar Highway has something for everyone.

In this guide, we’ll explore how to make the most of your Million Dollar Highway experience, including tips for planning your trip, must-see attractions along the way, and advice for staying safe on this exhilarating road.

Planning Your Trip

  1. Choose the Right Time of Year: The Million Dollar Highway is open year-round, but weather conditions can vary greatly depending on the season. Summer offers the most comfortable driving conditions, with clear skies and mild temperatures. However, this is also the busiest time of year, so be prepared for heavy traffic, especially on weekends. Fall is another popular time to visit, as the changing leaves create a stunning backdrop of vibrant colors.
  2. Decide on Your Route: The Million Dollar Highway stretches for 25 miles between the towns of Ouray and Silverton, but many travelers choose to extend their journey by exploring nearby attractions. Consider starting in Durango and making your way north to Ouray, or vice versa. This allows you to experience more of the area’s natural beauty and historic sites.
  3. Book Accommodations in Advance: Accommodations along the Million Dollar Highway can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist season. Be sure to book your hotel or campground well in advance to ensure you have a place to stay each night.
  4. Pack Accordingly: Weather in the Colorado mountains can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to pack for a variety of conditions. Even in the summer, temperatures can drop significantly at higher elevations, so bring layers and be prepared for chilly evenings.

Must-See Attractions

  1. Ouray: Known as the “Switzerland of America,” Ouray is a charming mountain town surrounded by towering peaks and lush forests. Take some time to explore Main Street, visit the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, or go for a hike in the nearby San Juan Mountains.
  2. Box Canyon Falls Park: Located just outside of Ouray, Box Canyon Falls Park is home to a spectacular 285-foot waterfall that cascades into a narrow canyon. A short hike leads to an overlook where you can take in the breathtaking views.
  3. Red Mountain Pass: At an elevation of over 11,000 feet, Red Mountain Pass offers some of the most stunning views along the Million Dollar Highway. Be sure to stop at one of the pullouts to take photos and admire the scenery.
  4. Silverton: A historic mining town nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Silverton is like stepping back in time. Take a stroll down Blair Street, visit the Mining Heritage Center, or hop aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for a scenic ride through the mountains.
  5. Molas Pass: As you make your way south from Silverton, be sure to stop at Molas Pass for more incredible views of the surrounding mountains and alpine lakes. There are several hiking trails in the area, ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks.
  6. Animas Forks: For a taste of Colorado’s mining history, make a detour to Animas Forks, a well-preserved ghost town located just off the Million Dollar Highway. Explore the old buildings, learn about the town’s history, and imagine what life was like for the early settlers.

Tips for a Safe Journey

  1. Drive Carefully: The Million Dollar Highway is known for its steep grades, sharp curves, and narrow lanes. Take your time and drive cautiously, especially if you’re not used to mountain driving.
  2. Watch for Wildlife: Colorado is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, and even bears. Keep an eye out for animals crossing the road, especially at dawn and dusk.
  3. Be Prepared for Weather Changes: Weather in the mountains can change rapidly, so be prepared for rain, snow, or hail at any time of year. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with good tires, and carry emergency supplies such as water, food, and a first-aid kit.
  4. Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks: The high elevation can lead to dehydration and fatigue, so be sure to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and rest.
  5. Respect the Environment: Help preserve the natural beauty of the Million Dollar Highway by staying on designated trails, disposing of trash properly, and respecting wildlife and other visitors.


Driving the Million Dollar Highway is an unforgettable experience that offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in Colorado. By following these tips and recommendations, you can make the most of your journey and create memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

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