Exploring Colorado: The Million Dollar Highway and Vallecito Creek Trail
We recently spent a week in Montrose, Colorado while our RV was being worked on in the shop. We had rented a small cabin at an RV park and were able to explore some of what Southwest Colorado has to offer.
In fact, if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our post and video on Ouray, otherwise known as “America’s Switzerland”. It’s a small mountain town located just 30 minutes from where we were staying in Montrose and is one of our favorite places so far. We highly recommend you add it to your list of places to visit! In fact, we tried to stay there but couldn’t find any availability at the time.
We liked the idea of coming back to Southwest Colorado once our RV was fixed, so we spent a day driving on US Highway 550, often referred to as the “Million Dollar Highway”. It was apparently built in the late 1880’s and gets up to an elevation of 11,000 at Red Mountain Pass. I believe the term “Million Dollar Highway” is technically referring to the stretch of highway between Ouray and Silverton.
Exploring Colorado: The Million Dollar Highway
Our plan was to drive back through Ouray and then get a taste of Silverton, Durango, and Vallecito in hopes of finding some locations to bring our tiny home on wheels once the repairs were complete. This was the most breathtaking, scenic drive we’ve ever been on, even when it was raining!
With that said, there were areas of the drive with massive drop-offs and no guardrails that nearly gave me a panic attack. I don’t think we’ll ever make this trip when it’s dark or in our RV (there are alternate routes), although others have done it and you can even see an RV in front of us for a while in the video below. Luckily, Eric drove safe and stayed calm even through my random mini freak outs where I thought I was gonna pass out. I also may have hugged onto McNally a little tight, but he didn’t seem to mind. I’ve since read some articles that this road has been called “highway to hell” so now I don’t feel so silly for freaking out…
In the end, it was well worth the drive, and our photos and video don’t even do it justice!
Video: Million Dollar Highway & Vallecito Creek Trail:
Vallecito Creek Trail
It was pouring rain during the majority of our drive, but cleared up just a few minutes before we began our hike on Vallecito Creek Trail. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to finish the hike because we had to turn around and drive the 4 hours back to the cabin, but it was nice to stretch our legs and experience a portion of the San Juan National Forest.
I didn’t get many photos of the drive since I was trying to get video footage, which you can watch in the video above, but here are a few more photos from our hike. It turned out to be such a beautiful day!
A week isn’t nearly enough time to enjoy all that Southwest Colorado has to offer, and we definitely plan to make a trip back out someday. Unfortunately, our RV needed additional work once we made it back from Montrose, which extended our stay in Colorado Springs for another month. We have some other states we would like to explore during the fall so Southwest Colorado will have to wait…
When we do head back, we would love to spend more time around Silverton. I love that it’s at a higher elevation so there are more of my evergreen trees in that area. We would also love to ride the Durango/Silverton train someday, so if you’re planning a visit near there I would definitely check it out!
Regardless, the “Million Dollar Highway” is an incredible scenic drive we recommend you experience first hand.
And if you have spent some time in Southwest Colorado and have any favorite towns, hikes, or tips you’d love to share, we would love to hear them in the comments below!
More about the Million Dollar Highway:
Mountain Towns along Highway 550:
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