The Story Behind Colorado’s Beautiful Million Dollar Highway
A ride down Colorado's breathtaking Million Dollar Highway is not only a sight to behold, it is also a ride that for some, will send your blood pressure through the roof.
Some people call this stretch of highway through Ouray and the San Juan Mountains the most dangerous highway in America. Is it really? Who built this road, and what were they thinking?
Where is Colorado's Million Dollar Highway?
U.S. Highway 550 runs from New Mexico to western Colorado and is home to a portion of the road known as the Million Dollar Highway. This highway runs from Bernalillo, New Mexico to Montrose, Colorado. Between Silverton, Colorado and the Town of Ouray is the stretch of road that got the name "Million Dollar Road" back in the late 1800s.
When Was Colorado's Million Dollar Highway Built?
The awe-inspiring, and downright dangerous mountain road, got its start in 1883. That year, the county of Ouray commissioned Otto Mears to build a toll road that lead from the town of Ouray, up to the top of the Uncompahgre Canyon. The road to Red Mountain was completed in September of that year at the cost of nearly $10k per mile.
In 1884, the town of Silverton then commissioned Mears to build a toll road from the top of Red Mountain on the opposite side, down to their city. This gave Mears the chance to build another insane stretch of road, but also gave him the chance to connect it to the highway he just finished on the other side of the mountain. This road was completed in November of 1884.
Why Do Some People Call This Road the Most Dangerous Highway on Earth?
You won't find many guard rails along Colorado's Million Dollar Highway. You have to watch your speed and keep your eyes on the road! Scroll through the photo gallery below to learn more about the road that Mears built, and why it is totally beautiful yet dangerous all at once.