San Juan Skyway, Colorado Scenic Byway and All American Road

View from the San Juan Scenic Byway

View from the San Juan Skyway

The San Juan Skyway is one of western Colorado’s thirteen Historic and Scenic byways and a designated All American Road. These byways link the ancient sites of the ancestral Pueblos, the red rock canyons and the spectacular vistas of the Rocky Mountains.

Recently we had a chance to go exploring the Skyway’s less well known attractions as well as the more famous ghost towns and Million Dollar Highway that lie along it.  We started in Ridgway where we checked out the Galloping Goose at the Ridgway Train museum, then got on the road.

The first stop was Placerville where we discovered an authentic one room school in the middle of the town park. Then on to Telluride, the home of world class skiing, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and a wonderful historical museum. There, we found the start of the Idarado Legacy Trail that leads to the Idarado mill and the story of the area’s mining history as well as  the Galloping Goose trail which follows the old route of that famous train.

We next stopped at the Ophir Loop overlook and took in the amazing views. After stops in Rico and Delores, where we had a great lunch, we ended the day in Durango. Alas, we did not have time to stop at Mesa Verde or the other sites of the Ancients.

The next day we returned to Ouray over the Million Dollar Highway. We also got a chance to visit the ghost towns of Ironton Park and Red Mountain Town.  All in all, a fabulous 2 day tour of our very own historic byway. The San Juan Byway is a 236 mile loop with a driving time of 6 hours and is open year around.

Another close to home trail is the Alpine Loop. This is one of the most popular back country four wheel drive roads linking Ouray, Lake City and Silverton. Along the way you can stop in the ghost towns of Eureka and Animas Forks or look for old mine works.

The San Juan Skyway and Alpine Loop are just two of the many scenic roads in western Colorado. Others include the Trail of the Ancients, Grand Mesa, and Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byways.

All of these are easily accessible from Ouray so make the Ouray Victorian Inn your base for exploring the sights of Western Colorado. Call us at 970 325 7222 or make a reservation here.

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