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Old 01-02-2012, 07:13 PM
 
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I will be visiting in June and intend to drive the Million Dollar Highway. Which way is the safest, north or south? Also, can anyone tell me anything about highway 149. Is it scenic or should I bypass it altogether.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:59 PM
 
Location: Sun City West, Arizona
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My recollection was that when you are driving south from Ouray you are on the outside edge of the highway. I was in Montrose this summer, although not to drive the Million Dollar Highway, and at the museum in Montrose happened to strike up a conversation with a former school bus driver who used to sometimes drive the M$H, and asked her the same question. She confirmed my recollection that the most dangerous drop-offs are on the southbound side of the road.
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:08 AM
 
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Wink US 550: scenery in all directions

US 550 between Durango and Ouray is plenty safe enough, just stay on the pavement. Whether traversing from north to south, or the reverse, there will be precipitous drop-offs in places immediately to your right. Although in general probably fewer if headed south. But this not the case between Ouray and Ironton, in what more properly is the Million Dollar section, where then if wishing to hug the mountainside one should be driving north towards Ouray. If of course a subjective matter, the best presentation (by way of scenery) may be in driving the road from Durango north.

If few routes can match US 550 through the San Juans, CO 149 between South Fork and its junction with US 50 near Gunnison is a lovely drive. Not as awe inspiring, but a beautiful drive, with in interest such towns as Creede and Lake City. Slumgullion Pass (11,361 feet), just south of Lake City, is high enough, but not as challenging as some others. Worth the drive if the time and an interest in history, or just a long and relatively little traveled road. If the desire, these two roads, along with US 50 and US 160, can be combined into one large circle, which would also include such points of interest as Pagosa Springs and Wolf Creek Pass.

If a choice of one or the other, then US 550 of course. In summer just an awesome drive, best enjoyed by pulling over for photographs, and not texting while driving. In winter, it can be something else altogether.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:24 AM
 
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I've made other posts on the forum, with attached photos, of the more "rigorous" portions of US550 south of Ouray. It is a splendidly scenic drive--but not one for those with a fear of heights or those without some mountain driving experience. There are narrow portions in both directions with no space for a guardrail at the edge of the road (with a several hundred-foot dropoff immediately off the edge of the pavement) and no margin for driving error. On most Colorado mountain highways, dropping a wheel off the pavement onto the shoulder is a non-event--there are places on the Million Dollar Highway where doing that could likely be fatal.

All of that said, with experience and care, it can be driven safely. I've driven it hundreds of times, including about a dozen times in the last two months--including towing a heavy equipment trailer on some of those recent trips. But, I've also been driving that road for 40 years--in all seasons and in all weather conditions. The "spookiest" trip was some years back when I and a few other vehicles were trapped for several hours between two snowslides that had run just north of the Riverside slide. There were slides running everywhere on the road that day--pretty wild to see and hear.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Western Colorado
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Take your time and you'll be ok. It's not a road you want to do 90 mph on, although some motorcycles think otherwise. You won't find better scenery. And keep a jacket handy, it can still snow or be chilly that time of year. Here's some info:


Red Mountain Pass, Colorado - YouTube

Red Mountain Pass: Scenic Drive From Ouray & Photos of the San Juan Mountains

U.S. Route 550 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Million Dollar Highway - Colorado - Reviews of Million Dollar Highway - TripAdvisor
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:59 AM
 
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Stunning stunning drive, well worth every minute. I've only driven it south and somehow feel there are fewer dropoffs that way. I will be driving it north this summer and will see. Nothing like it and yes, summer only!
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:53 PM
 
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thank you so much for the input. The last two years I have driven the Blue Ridge Pkwy ( which by no means can compare to Colorado) I also live in the knob section of Ky narrow winding hilly roads so at least I'm not a flatlander. I figure I can do it. I'm a mobile notary who travels backroads for a living. I once met a fedex truck on a narrow one and 1/2 lane dirt road (I was cliffside) no guardrails, it was a little hairy but we made it. One other question I'm interested in hwy 90 into Utah which then becomes 46. It looks quite desolate and I think it might be dirt? for quite a stretch, can anyone give me details. Thanks so much, I'm counting down the days till I hit the road.
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Old 01-03-2012, 07:39 PM
 
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Wink On the -Utah- border

CO 90/ UT 46 is a paved road. Narrow, two-lane. And some lovely country near the border.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:25 PM
 
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thank you for clearing that up for me, I got some weird info on it from a web site.
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Old 01-04-2012, 12:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
CO 90/ UT 46 is a paved road. Narrow, two-lane. And some lovely country near the border.
And very little for poulation and services. When you get to Naturita, best to top off the tank there as you will not see a gas station once you get to Utah on Hwy. 191, off state hwy. 46. Have been through there many times, in fact earlier this year. The distance from Naturita to either Monticello or Moab is around 100 miles. Keep in mind the road is not only a narrow one but also is lacking in road maintenance, which is NO fault of the highway department. You don't have a lot of people who live in this part of the state and you will see other state roads in western San Miguel and Montrose counties that are in need of maintenance. The recession has hit hard, states are strapped and a half regarding road maintenance in the summer and snow plowing in the winter. It's been that way the last three years, and sadly most likely to stay that way the next three years as well.
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