San Juan Scenic Skyway - Scenic Route

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Scenic Route

San Juan Scenic Skyway

Scenic Route • Colorado
  • Panoramablick vom San Juan Scenic Skyway
    / Panoramablick vom San Juan Scenic Skyway
    Photo: daveynin, CC BY, flickr.com
  • Million Dollar Highway
    / Million Dollar Highway
    Photo: flamouroux, CC BY-SA, flickr.com
  • Telluride from above
    / Telluride from above
    Photo: John Fowler, CC BY, Wikimedia Commons
  • Red Mountain Pass
    / Red Mountain Pass
    Photo: Eleaf, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • Aerial photograph of Telluride
    / Aerial photograph of Telluride
    Photo: Terry Foote, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • Ouray, seen from Box Canyon
    / Ouray, seen from Box Canyon
    Photo: Scott Catron, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • View of Durango from Rim Drive
    / View of Durango from Rim Drive
    Photo: Ron Clausen, CC0, Wikimedia Commons
  • Main Avenue, Durango
    / Main Avenue, Durango
    Photo: Sascha Brück, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • Animas River, Durango
    / Animas River, Durango
    Photo: Ahodges7, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • Ouray, Colorado
    / Ouray, Colorado
    Photo: Bede735, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
  • Town center of Ouray
    / Town center of Ouray
    Photo: Bede735, CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons
Map / San Juan Scenic Skyway
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Weather

This round trip makes you discover the beautiful and pristine lansdcape of Colorado, the highest state of the USA.  On its 233 miles you get to see several hidden treasures of the stunning San Juan Mountains.

374.2 km
5:54 h
4969 m
4946 m

San Juan Scenic Skyway is a breathtaking scenic route of 233 miles leading through the  Centennial State. It owes its name to the impressive San Juan Mountains, a vast mountain range covering a huge fraction of San Juan National Forest.

Departing in the city of Durango in the midst of the Four Corners, where the states of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet. The route develops through several traditional mining towns and pristine mountain areas. Heading north towards Uncompahgre National Forest we get to see dense woodlands and pretty rivers before we turn east along Million Dollar Highway taking in an almost desert-like scenery. Getting back to Durango we drive through From Red Mountain Pass, a picturesque mountain saddle between Uncompahgre National Forest and San Juan National Forest.

Author's recommendation

In the small towns along the route - Ridgway, Telluride and Ouray – you can find gas stations. Nonetheless, you should fill up the tank before starting the tour in Durango, as the price here is usually lower than in the remoter (touristic) towns.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Wolfgang Paulus
Updated: 2018-01-25

Experience
Landscape
Altitude
3388 m
1977 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

Pass streets are usually curvy and narrow, so please drive carefully.

Equipment

You need solid footwear, weatherproof clothing and enough to drink (preferably water). As there are no gas stations or restaurants along the way, you need to refuel beforehand and take a petrol can with you.

Start

Durango, southern city limits (1981 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
37.268445 N -107.884923 E
UTM
13S 244186 4128554

Destination

Durango, city center

Turn-by-turn directions

Departing from Durango, we head west on US-160, after 7,5 miles we follow the same highway in northwestern direction. On our right side we see San Juan National Forest. Once we’ve driven through the small town of Mancos, we change onto CO184 road. After a total of 45 miles we turn right onto CO145 heading northeast, cross Dolores River and drive through Joe Rowell Park. Now we‘re in San Juan National Forest and follow CO145 alongside Dolores River towards northeast/east. After approximately 55 miles we turn right towards Telluride. Then we continue on CO-145 westwards for approximately 18 miles right and turn right onto SH 62. Leaving behind the small town of Ridgway after 22 miles, we cross  Uncompahgre River and turn right onto US-550. After further 10 miles, we get to the small town of Outray and keep going southwards. Following Uncompahgre River at the border of Uncompahgre National Forest, after 9 miles we reach Red Mountain Pass. Then we drive past the small town of Silverton (on our left side), continue in southern direction and get back to Durango after approximately 45 miles.

Public transport

There is no public transport covering the distance betweem Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO) and (distance: approx. 15 miles). You can hire a car to get there.

Getting there

From Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO) via US-Highway 160 and CO-172 S to Durango (distance: approx. 15 miles).

Parking

Alongside the route there are parking areas. Please look after signposted parking areas.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Distance
374.2 km
Duration
5:54 h
Ascent
4969 m
Descent
4946 m
Round tour Nice views Cultural/historical value Geological highlights Botanical highlights

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Highest point
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Lowest point
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