About 70 miles of U.S. Highway 550 stretches between Durango and Ouray. As part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and the Million Dollar highway, this windy, two-lane mountain highway offers some of the most beautiful driving in the country as it twists and turns through the San Juan Mountains.
The Million Dollar Highway runs about 25 miles between Silverton and Ouray, and along this portion of road it loosely follows the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a train track that was laid down around 1882.
From this main north-south corridor, you can access some of the most amazing hikes and landscapes anywhere in the Rocky Mountains. Near Silverton, the Island Lake Trail leads to a beautiful alpine vista. Just up the road, Yankee Boy Basin offers a 14er worthy of climbing as well as colorful summertime wildflowers. One of my personal favorite hikes starts just north of Ouray near Ridgway - the Blue Lakes hike. This trail is a little over 8 miles round trip and gains nearly 2400 vertical feet. The views above Lower Blue lake are unparalleled, and the summertime wildflowers are among the most beautiful I've seen.
Also included in this gallery are images and panoramas from the Cimarron Ridge area just east of Ouray. Though Silver Jack Reservoir is only about 30 miles (as the crow flies) from Ouray, it would still take a few hours to traverse either Owl Pass or drive back to Cimarron to Montrose and back to Ouray. The Cimarron area is beautiful, especially in the fall when Autumn colors are on full display.
For those not wanting a long hike or bumpy drive but still wanting a good view, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers 42.5 miles of history and amazing views as it winds its way from Durango to Silverton and back.
I hope this gallery of photographs can give you a sampling of the beauty that awaits in this pristine region of Colorado. If you have any questions about the images presented here, please do not hesitate to contact me.