The Skyway Highway

Map of the San Juan Skyway

Travel in the San Juan Mountains has never been an easy proposition, but wherever gold can be found, man will manage to go. Miners in search of their fortunes trekked through “them-thar hills” using mules and horses; all of the major towns in the area were once old mining camps. Mule trails, wagon roads and narrow gauge railways connected the camps to deliver goods and carry out ore. The original stretch of what is now known as the Million Dollar Highway was a toll road developed by Otto Mears in 1883 to connect Ouray to Ironton; a second toll road was later built to connect Ironton to Silverton. That toll road stretch which spans Red Mountain Pass was rebuilt in the 1920’s and has since gained a reputation as being one of the most difficult stretches of road in the world to drive. Its narrow two lanes feature many hairpin turns and steep drop-offs with no guardrails. Driving this stretch of roadway never fails to result in white-knuckled drivers. The entire Skyway consists of a 379 km loop connecting the Southwest Colorado towns of Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Ridgeway, Telluride, Rico, Dolores, and Mancos. In addition to these interesting and friendly Victorian mining towns, sights along the way include 14,000 snow-capped peaks, pleasant mountain trout streams, colorful aspen forests, and ancient pueblo ruins. In 1988, the San Juan Skyway was the first U.S. highway to receive the designation of National Scenic Byway. Scenery, history, adventure–the San Juan Skyway offers something for everyone.


About Four Corners Folio

Katherine Burgess is owner and operator of Colorado Travel Connection LLC, a travel company dedicated to promoting and servicing international travellers to Southwest Colorado and the Four Corners area where four states meet: Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.
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