Saturday, August 02, 2008

Montrose to Durango: The Million Dollar Highway


It was way past lunch time when we left Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and headed for Montrose. Always looking for good and cheap place to eat that is also fast, I spotted a Mexican joint on the west side of 550. It turned out to be all of the above; good, cheap and fast. The place was packed so that was a good sign.



Don Gilberto Mexican Restaurant in Montrose


Burriotos for lunch

After lunch we continued on 550 heading south. I usually don’t devote a whole post to one road but 550 isn’t just any road, it’s the Million Dollar Highway. No one is really sure how the name came about. Some say it’s because that was the cost to pave the road in the 1930’s, or that that the pavement was made from gravel from the nearby gold and silver mines worth millions, or that in the beginning when the road was unpaved it was so torturous that no one wanted to travel it, not even if they were paid a million dollars. Either way, 550 from Montrose to Durango is an amazing road with some unbelievable scenery. Being all that, you can imagine that there is quite a bit of traffic on this road.

Surrounded by mountains on 550

Mike and his Tiger on 550

A bit of old snow on 550

This stream had the color of latte

Twists and turns and no guard rails

A neat tunnel on 550

Construction delay and new pavement

Looking down at the road below

Red Mountain

Following a bunch of slow cars through the curves


The 110 miles from Montrose to Durango too us 4 hours to get through. There were a few stops for pictures, a few very long constructions delays, and many tight curves. This road is amazing and even though there is a lot of traffic on this road and it’s very hard to enjoy the amazing twisty pavement that way a sportbiker would like to enjoy them, the traffic lets you slow down and enjoy the scenery. This is one of those roads that I could spend a week on, there is so much to see here.

The three mountain passes on 550 are Red Mountain Pass at 11,008 feet, Molas Pass at 10,910 feet and Coal Bank Pass at 10,640 feet.

The second leg of the trip today was 128 miles from Black Canyon of the Gunnison N.P. to Durango

1 comment:

RhondaRotate said...

Anna, as always your trip reports are amazing. Keep them coming.