On to Ridgway and the Million Dollar Highway
The image above was taken along Route 145 as I headed north and upward towards Telluride, Colorado on July 6th. After doing some extensive research on whether or not to drive Route 550, the Million Dollar Highway, from Durango to Ridgway, I chose to take the slightly longer, safer ( read chickened out ), route staying on Route 160 west through Durango, then picking up Route 145 near Cortez, then north on Route 62 at Placerville, joining Route 550 at Ridgway, and then a few miles north on Route 550 to the Ridgway State Park where I have reservations for a two week stay.
Route 145 north through the mountains is a pretty decent road that makes a very long, gradual climb before a short steep ascent to Lizard Head Pass, elevation 10, 222′, and a steep decent to Telluride. It was touted as an easier route through the mountains than Route 550 and I would have to agree. I had no trouble at any point along this road and would do it again in a heartbeat.
I arrived at the State Park in the early afternoon with temps in the mid to high 80’s and found my reserved site unusable, just way too severely sloped. What would have been a disaster was averted by some very nice, accommodating volunteer hosts and a park ranger who turned a potentially awful situation into a pleasantly resolved one. More on that in the next post along with some images of the campground in the next post.
The Million Dollar Highway
At the crack of dawn Thursday, I loaded my photo gear, and Sam, into the Prius and headed back south down Route 550 to see if there were any million dollar views along the Million Dollar Highway.
( I have included all the images in this post in a gallery, located at the end of this post, where you can see larger images and view them as a slideshow, if you like.)
Turns out, there are ! Quite a few indeed. WOW ! I have never been here before and I will say, I am REALLY impressed with this country.
Of course, ideal conditions, a blue sky day with temps around 70 ( once I climbed to above 8000′ ) didn’t hurt.
Heading south and climbing to an elevation of 11,118″ at Red Mountain Pass, I was really glad I chickened out and did not decide to take this road in the motorhome towing the Prius. That said, a lot of other folks obviously feel otherwise as I passed several motorhomes with toads, along with 5th wheels and some travel trailers. There also were a few tractor trailers poking along the highway, but not all that many. What did amaze me were the number of cars , not quite traffic jam numbers but a whole lot more traffic than I anticipated on a highway with such a fearsome reputation.
There is just SO much to see along this road, it is going to take a few trips to even begin to take it all in. And since I am spending all my time rubbernecking along the way, this highway may well be the end of me since there are countless opportunities to go off the edge of the road, and straight down hundreds of feet, no guardrails along much of the way, At one spot I stopped to take a few shots, I could see the remains of three different vehicle several hundred feet below.
I took only one side trip off the highway today, out South Mineral Road to check out the campgrounds, and designated camping areas, located along the road. If I ever worked up the courage to take the motorhome up into these mountains, the camping along this road would well be the reason why.
I passed this bicyclist heading up to Red Mountain Pass and just after doing so saw these two deer on the side of the road, so I did a quick u-turn and waited off the road to see what their reaction would be to the guy on the bike as he approached them. Thought I might get something interesting, but as luck would have it, some jackass on his roaring Harley ( one of many, way too many, on this road today ), came through in the opposite direction and just had to rev it up as he passed the deer, scaring them off just before the bicyclist got to them. I will never understand the mentality of these idiots, destroying so much in their wake, I guess just to draw attention to themselves, pretty pathetic.
And speaking of pathetic, here is lonesome Sam, waiting for the photographer to return to the Prius after shooting something along the way. I guess it’s going to take some more time before she gets over our loss … she hasn’t touched her food bowl in going on three days now, and is just seriously depressed. She is getting a lot of attention now with no competition, so I’m sure she will come out of it sooner or later. This is the first time in her ten years that she has been alone, so it is a new experience for her.
The area around Red Mountain is simply spectacular, I’ll just let the images show you what I mean.
South of Red Mountain Pass is the town of Silverton, seen here from an overlook a little farther south of the town itself. Note the Railroad train coming into town in the lower right.
Million Dollar Highway Image Gallery
Click on the first ( or any other ) image to see larger versions of the images in this post.
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