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Million Dollar Highway

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Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Hwy 550, twists and turns up over Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado, through some of the state’s most historic mining districts. The highway, known in this area as the Million Dollar Highway, was built by Otto Mears in 1882.
US 550: The Million Dollar Highway

The stretch of Highway 550 between Silverton and Ouray takes drivers over Red Mountain Pass at 11 thousand feet without guardrails on its narrowest sections. The road clings precariously to the edge of plunging cliffs, and sees as much as 25 feet of snow each winter.

It’s terrified many a soul, and taken a few, yet wagon drivers paid to use the road in the late 1800s to get valuable ore from mines to market. When automobiles came along, few believed one could make the trip. But in 1911 a doctor went from Ouray to Ironton in a Model T for a house call. After it was paved with asphalt in the 50s, it became a tourist destination. Since then many travelers have braved the treacherous yet exhilarating 20 mile drive. It’s called the Million Dollar Highway, but the awe-inspiring views – and bragging rights to driving one of the world’s most unforgettable roads – are priceless.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.