Friday, July 13, 2012

Ouray, Colorado and the Million Dollar Highway

Hi all, Dianne here.  On our second day in Montrose we decided to drive 29 miles on US Highway 550 to the scenic town of Ouray, dubbed  the "Switzerland of America."  It gets this nickname because it's set at the narrow head of a valley at 7,792 feet altitude, surrounded on three sides by 13,000-foot snowcapped peaks (there were still patches of snow up there, but most has melted).  

It's a beautiful little town full of Victorian architecture.  We parked the car and walked up and down the main street of town enjoying the sunshine and beautiful surroundings.  As we walked along, we took note of several possibilities for lunch.  Our plan was to get a quick look at the town, then drive on up Highway 550 toward Silverton, stopping back through for lunch.

Here are a few more photos of picturesque downtown Ouray:

Ouray has a year-round population of approximately 800, but thousands of visitors come each summer.

After drinking in the beauty of this town, we made our way back to the car to set off on the "Million Dollar Highway" section of U.S. Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton.  It is part of the San Juan Skyway, considered one of the most scenic and spectacular mountain drives in North America.  

Roger and I agree!  To us it ranks right up there with the Pacific Coast Highway in its beauty.  

Love the Green!
Twisty Road - Glad we were in the car!

Red Mountain
Abandoned Mining Town
Check Out the Whimsical Painted-On Curtains!

Twisty 15 mph speed limit ok; easier to gawk!
Rusty Mountain Stream
Even the logs got rusty!

Roger had to put our poor little Matrix into third gear to get up many of the grades, and even had to use second gear a couple of times.

According to a roadside placard, U.S. Highway 550 in this area is the most avalanche-prone highway in the United States.  Evidence of this is this avalanche tunnel we drove through.

Soon we were back to Ouray, and saw the town from above, nestled in its little valley below.

As we walked along the street toward our lunch destination, we saw a tricked-out Jeep being raffled off by the town.  Ouray also has the reputation of being the "Jeep Capital of the World."  Ever since we rented the Jeep at Capital Reef N.P., Roger has lusted after one.  We decided to put our $5 into the raffle, "just in case."  The drawing is in October, so if we win, we'll be making a road trip from Mission, Texas to pick it up!

Our first pick for lunch had a "Closed on Tuesdays" sign on the door, so we walked a bit down the street and decided to eat on the roof of the Ouray Brewery.

What a treat it was to sit on the roof and watch the activity while we ate lunch and sipped a local brew!

It also gave us a birds-eye view of that part of town, so I snapped a few more photos from our seat on the roof.

Roger made the mistake of saying, "Look down there, Dianne, there's a kitchen store."  Well, that cost us a few bucks as we made a bee-line over there after lunch.  He should know better!

As we passed through the downstairs of the brewery on our way to Christopher's Culinaire, I snapped a photo of the swinging bar stools.  Those look like fun unless you've had too many beers!

What a wonderful day!  This ranks right up there as one of our full-timing favorites.  We know we'll be back to visit this beautiful town someday!

The pet photo of the day is one I took with my iPhone.  It shows Bandido and Tequila playing "It's Mine!" with a frisbee.  They really are best buds!!  


Anonymous said...

We are planning to be in Durango & Ouray at the beginning of August. Looks like I need to get online and check some of the tunnel heights and widths around Colorado since we will be driving the RV everywhere! Your pics of Ouray are great. Where else are you headed in our great state?

Patty w/ Joey and Scout, the greyhounds said...

What a beautiful place! It is so nice that your dogs are best buds. After our Jack died, we adopted Joey because Scout was so lonely. They get along, but are not the best of friends. I am not sure she is the type that would ever be best buds with any dog though.

cathie said...

Really enjoyed your pictures o Ouray and the road you traveled.

Nancy and Bill said...


Put Ouray and the Million Dollar Highway on our TODOS list!!!

Patty w/ Joey and Scout, the greyhounds said...

I am wanting to buy a passport book for the national parks. Do they typically sell them at the parks? I know I can order it online, but we are hitting the road soon and I am not sure it will arrive in time.

Unknown said...

Mike Plautz here... I think your 'moss' is actually a lichen, around here it's called old man's beard. Fairly common stuff up in forested mountains. And according to Wikipedia's edible!!!