Scenic Drives and Historic Byways
The scenic drives and historic byways of Colorado draw people from all over the world. The mountains surrounding Ouray provide some of the most beautiful scenery found in the US. While 4-wheel drive vehicles are needed for some of the more rugged routes, there are plenty of spectacular routes accessible by regular passenger cars. The Million Dollar Highway (US550) between Ouray and Silverton is one of the most breathtaking stretches of highway in the country, especially in September when the fall colors are at their best.
The Million Dollar Highway is just part of the San Juan Skyway loop that will also take you through Durango, Cortez, and Telluride before circling back to Ouray. Completing the loop will take you by several of the state’s Fourteeners, mountains over 14,000 feet tall and some of the highest mountains in the country. Abandoned mine shafts and mills can also be seen, a reminder of the mining history of the San Juan Mountains.
Another close-by scenic drive is the Unaweep-Tebeguache road. This byway takes along the Delores and San Miguel rivers, past the Driggs Mansion and the historic hanging flume. Along the way, you many encounter bald eagles, elk, peregrine falcons, and maybe a coyote or mountain lion. This drive also will take you back in time when you stop at the site where Uravan once existed. It was in Uravan where the uranium was mined for the first atomic bombs.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, about one hour north of Ouray, also offers stunning scenery and plenty of opportunities for photography as do the close by scenic drives to Camp Bird Mine and Owl Creek Pass.