Today was our best day of the trip so far. It was the most ambitious, the most scenic, and the most exciting. Our initial goal was to drive the US Scenic Byway known as the San Juan Skyway, which winds its way from Durango to Ouray, Colorado, through the San Juan Mountains. The road is also referred to as the Million Dollar Highway, perhaps because it cost so much to build, or perhaps because of the gold & silver mines which lined its length. The distance of this segment is only 72 miles, but what an expanse of mountain scenery.
We stopped at numerous overlooks en route to Silverton, our first stop. Here is a sample of the vistas we experienced.
Here is another.
We stopped for a while in Silverton, a former mining town nestled among tall mountains.
We strolled Main Street, stopping to browse in shops and to check out the views.
From Silverton, we continued north through the most dramatic section of the highway, with numerous switchbacks and hair-pin turns and incredible scenery.
Ouray is even cuter than Silverton. It calls itself America’s Switzerland and for good reason (check out Cascade Falls in the background).
From Ouray, we continued north to Montrose — the scenery was not as impressive but it brought us closer to our next stop, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Of the overlooks we sampled, our favorite was Pulpit Rock, which offers a substantial view of the Gunnison River, 2000 feet below.