The Best Guide to Motorcycle Roads, Rides & Events

San Juan Mountain Skyway + ADD NEW ROUTE


1   in Colorado Colorado225 Miles

By Anonymous
on December 11, 1999

5.0out of 5

28 Riders rated

 Scenery

 Road Quality

 Roadside Amenities

Written Directions

NOTE: A 12-mile section of this route (the section between Ouray & Silverton) is a very famous section of road known as the "Million Dollar Highway"!

This route is a loop so you can start anywhere on the loop and take the loop in either direction but my description below in the "roadside amenities" section describes the route starting in Ridgway, CO and ending in Telluride. Following my recommended route you start in Ridgway on Rte. 62 heading east and immediately get on Rte. 550. Take that road south all the way to Durango. From Durango, get on Rte. 160 heading west towards Mesa Verde National Park and the town of Cortez. Before you get to Cortez, you need to turn north on Rte 145 and that will take you all the way up to Telluride. You'll definitely want to stop in Telluride and take a look around, stretch the legs, grab some chow, and gas up. Once you get back on 145 continuing north, you'll want to head up to Placerville at which point you need to get on the road you started, 62, and take it east all the way back to the starting point of Ridgway, CO. A spectacular 225 mile loop!!






Scenery

This ride will take you through arguably the most beautiful sections of the Rocky Mountains as you follow a circular path through southwestern Colorado. You will pass through historic mining towns, national parks and forests and world-class ski resort areas. On this trip you will see the San Juan Mountains, home to many of Colorado's elite group of 14,000 foot mountain peeks. Along the way you will see red-rock canyons, lush river valleys, hot springs and majestic mountain peaks and an area known as the 'Switzerland of America.' Bottom line is BRING LOTS OF FILM ON THIS TRIP!!!.


Timing your trip to see the Aspens in their fall glory will make this trip even more special. These lovely Aspen groves provide a heavenly blanket of golden hues along the Uncompahgre Gorge.

Road Quality

You definitely want to be careful on this route. It has countless number of hairpin turns and switchbacks (with and WITHOUT guardrails) and the descents and climbs are almost endless. Make sure you take advantage of the many scenic turnouts to take a good long look at the scenery ... you will be surprised how glued your eyes will be on the scenery. Keep in mind, this alpine route will have you riding at over 10,000 feet three times on its path ... some bikes (like humans) struggle at these kinds of altitudes. Lastly, when planning any bike trip through mountains, keep in mind that the snow sticks around longer up there in the spring and returns more quickly in the year (you'd be safest in July/August).


One of the MANY things you can do along this motorcycle road is to take a relaxing tour on a vintage steam engine. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad offers train ride packages that are based on changing themes (ex. "Balloon Rally Train", "Cascade Canyon Tour", etc) ... its a great way to see some of the beauty inaccessible to road travelers and to "slip back in time" and feel some of the emotions elicited by the same untamed Rocky Mountain Beauty that has been enchanting travelers for many generations.



Roadside Amenities

There are a large variety of amenities in this area of Colorado. The town of Ridgway was home to the set of Wild West movies such as True Grit and How the West Was Won. You can also visit old mining towns such as Ouray, Silverton and Telluride. Ouray was named after a Ute Indian chief and is home of a number of hot springs including one converted to a municipal pool. Silverton offers a look at a preserved Rocky Mountain mining town with its once elegant hotels and even a former red light district where the town locals stage mock gunfights on some summer evenings. The city has a museum and ample gift shops and places to grab a bite or a brew. Durango is the largest city in southwestern Colorado and as you walk its gas-lamp lit streets you will see its vast collection of beautiful brick and stone Victorian buildings that offer a multitude of souvenir shops, restaurants and hotels. It is also the starting point for the 'Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.' This authentic coal burning steam engine pulled train runs multiple times a day across the breathtaking route from Durango to Silverton. You will pass buy Mesa Verde National Park and will definitely want to stop by and visit the ancient Ansazi villages and cliff dwellings built here over 700 years ago. There you will see the 'Cliff Palace' that served as the home of more than 200 Anasazis. On the southwestern corner of the trip you will pass through Cherry Creek and see the area that gave western novelist Louis L'Amour the inspiration for his many novels. As you finish the loop of this route, one of the highlights of your trip may be the world famous ski-town of Telluride. Here you will find yourself in a town tucked close to awesome mountains in its own corner of a mountain valley. This Victorian town has ample activities including mountain-biking, camping and a large offering of shops and restaurants. It is also houses the historic bank where Butch Cassidy committed his first bank robbery in 1889. While there make sure you hike to Bridal Veil Falls and see the highest freefall waterfall in Colorado (the fall dives 425 ft).


There is a lot of history along this route covering different times and different cultures. In addition to the gold mining era historical sites, you will be able to experience some of far older historical points of interest such as the incredible cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. You can explore the various ancient architectural treasures from walking paths and learn from the many fascinating tours available.



Additional Info

- View the weather forecast for this area from Yahoo weather .


One of the many interesting towns you'll find along this route is Ouray Colorado. Ouray has an interesting history as well as some vintage "gold mining days" architecture that you can see and walk through when it's time to take a break from the road.




One of the dominating peaks along this path is known as Engineer Mountain shown in this photo.




The route offers some good scenic diversity as part of the route will pass through idyllic alpine mountain splendor, while other sections pass through canyon areas. When you get to Ridgway, you will have made it out of the mountain hugging roads and be traveling on some flatter sections with grand panoramic views of the surrounding ranges.





Nickname (optional) : Anonymous

What Riders Say About this Route Add Review & Rating

By Guest
on September 24, 2009 10 out of 10 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 1968

Motorcycle Make Kawasaki

Motorcycle Type Sport

I saw this ride on this website and made the journey out here from Arizona. Wow I'm glad I did!!! This will now be an annual ride for me and a group that roams the western US each summer. I especially loved the fact that in between the jaw dropping scenery are great stops sprinkled pretty evenly. We stopped at every one of the nice towns along the way and ended up stretching a one day trip into three and wished we could have stayed longer. Just a lot of neat towns with plenty to do if you're not in a hurry and enjoy snooping around and taking things in. I was told however that we should have tried in early Oct for the color changes. Will be there next year!!!

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By MotoForever
on July 8, 2014 5 out of 5 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2013

Motorcycle Make Harley

Motorcycle Type Touring

We did this ride in June 2014 from Durango up 550 and stayed in Cortez CO after 225 miles. It was amazing. Tops my list for wonderful rides. Everything seems to be just a little more amazing here. The elevation, the alpine trees, the western history, the curves, the valleys, the snow covered peaks, the number of bikes on the road, the museums, I can go on. You might see similar things elsewhere, but you seem to appreciate them more here. Not sure why, I guess I'll have to come back again... The stop in Silverton is bike friendly and parking is easy. We found it difficult to park in Ouray. Finding level areas to park was difficult there. Silverton has excellent food, stores, museum... lots to do. I found myself wanting to see more of the views, but need to keep my eyes on the roads with the huge steep drop offs everywhere! The west side back on Hwy 62/145 is good for running at a faster pace. Sweeping corners. Plan to stop a few times on this road and soak in the beauty. We will be back.

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By Guest
on May 19, 2014 4 out of 4 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2003

Motorcycle Make Roadstar

Motorcycle Type

This is a good route I have ridden many times over the years. If you really want to experience a grand ride, or expand on this loop, instead of taking CO 62 to Ridge way, continue North on CO 145 to Naturita and CO 141 to ride the Dolores River Canyon. Truly an epic ride and worth the time.

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By GJRonK
on March 23, 2012 4 out of 4 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2000

Motorcycle Make Yamaha

Motorcycle Type Cruiser

--
This is a tremendous write-up on this area. Living near there has given me the opportunity to travel various parts over time. It is truly as beautiful as others have described it. I wrote up one description of the route from Durango to Silverton that gives some perspective you might enjoy.
Ron

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By Guest
on February 25, 2010 4 out of 4 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2004

Motorcycle Make Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle Type Touring

I have traveled all over Colorado and this is the best of the best. It's truly a religious experiance,

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By Guest
on June 18, 2009 4 out of 4 members found this review useful.

No Rating Provided

Motorcycle Year

Motorcycle Make BMW

Motorcycle Type

Probably the best motorcycle road in America! The scenery is no doubt by far the best scenery I've ever seen and I've been riding for 26 years and put about 5,000 plus miles on per year and have driven in every state but Hawaii. It's a little remote being in the southwest corner of Colorado but that's also what helps me give it a 10 because it's not crowded and not as cliché as "riding the dragon" (I like the dragon too though). Good luck and bring a good camera and a great friend!!

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By Tallguy88
on December 29, 2011 3 out of 3 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2012

Motorcycle Make Harley Road Glide

Motorcycle Type Touring

This is the best ride ive ever been on!! We did do about 3 hours n the rain but it was still unbeatable. Hwy 550 north of Durango has to be the best road in the country. The town of Ouray is one of my favorite towns with hot springs and if you have time stop and take a jeep tour in the mountains. We went in July and the only bad thing was the heavy traffic. I would also recommend getting over mountain passes early in the day because its seems like the weather turns after lunch and you don't want to get caught in a mountain storm. We rode all over the state of Colorado and any road west of Denver is a good ride.

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By DgoMountie
on November 23, 2013 2 out of 2 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 1998

Motorcycle Make Harley Heritage Soft Tail

Motorcycle Type

Have lived near and ridden this road for a lifetime and, always knew it was great, just never realized it till I started touring more.
This is the best of the best and has it all. Good surface, plenty of amenities and stops. History, scenery, challenges, elevation changes and a route made for great riding.
Tips : Sept - Oct and May - June have less traffic. Sept - Oct has unpredictable weather. May - June will have road hazards such as sand and potholes.
Take C184 between Dolores and Mancos. It is more scenic and only takes you a couple miles out of the way if a Mesa Verde visit is in your itinerary.

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By Guest
on July 11, 2013 2 out of 2 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2005

Motorcycle Make Honda ST1300

Motorcycle Type Sport-Touring

I rode from Miami to California and detoured to take the Million Dollar Highway. Starting in Durango the road climbs to Silverton through alamedas of Aspens that give way to evergreens as you gain altitude. There are three passes over 10,000 ft that still had snow in late May. The road from Silverton to Ouray rates as highly as the Tail of the Dragon in my opinion. The scenery is spectacular, the road is challenging and traffic was light. Ouray is a good stop for lunch. I then followed the loop through Telluride down to Cortez. Much of the route follows valleys with rushing mountain streams following the road. Ten miles of road under repair ("Warning, motorcycles use extreme caution") with oil and loose gravel made the ride challenging. This is definately a Bucket List ride.

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By Guest
on October 6, 2010 2 out of 2 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2008

Motorcycle Make Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle Type Touring

We traveled this route in July of 2007 and the roads and weather were perfect, no doubt this is the most scenic motorcyle road in the US........Red Mountain Pass........awesome~!

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By Guest
on June 27, 2010 2 out of 2 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2008

Motorcycle Make Triumph

Motorcycle Type Sport-Touring

I'm lucky to live close to this loop and it is one of my favorite rides. Amazing scenery, great twisties. Try to avoid weekend traffic. Durango and Ouray are great places to eat/shop/stay. Can't go wrong with this ride!

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By Guest
on January 2, 2010 2 out of 2 members found this review useful.

No Rating Provided

Motorcycle Year 2005

Motorcycle Make Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle Type Touring

I have also elk hunted in this area and it has, without a doubt, some of the most beautiful scenery to be had. Nice sweeping curves, elevation changes, and good road. A must-ride road if you are in the area. Early October is a great time to ride to see the different fall colors. They are spectacular.

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By Guest
on June 24, 2009 2 out of 2 members found this review useful.

4.5out of 5

Motorcycle Year

Motorcycle Make

Motorcycle Type

I did this ride about two weeks ago and it was phenomenal. It is a little difficult to get to it because it's tucked down in a corner of Colorado but I was glad I made the trip as there were a lot of nice miles getting there too. I really loved how the ride has the incredible scenery you would expect in a Colorado Rocky Mountain ride with the added bonus of nice stops spread out along its path. I really enjoyed Silverton and Telluride! Great suggestion on the ride - many thanks!

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By RedWing04
on February 21, 2015 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2004

Motorcycle Make Honda

Motorcycle Type Touring

This is one of the greatest routes in the US. It has it all, super scenery, good amenities, good roads and curves, several mountain passes, good overlooks and scenic stops and lots to see and along the way. This route takes you through some of the most rugged part of the Rocky Mountains. While you can travel it in one day it will be a long one if you make only a few stops. It is best traveled in 2 to 3 days with so much to see and visit along the way. Be sure to spend some time at Mesa Verde, Silverton and Telluride and take the train trip from Durango to Silverton if you have extra time. One great ride and a super area you will definitely want to return to.

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By ®Wild Bill
on July 23, 2014 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2011

Motorcycle Make Yamaha

Motorcycle Type Cruiser

After a recent trip in this area I decided to go back on the motorcycle. This loop is so. Beautiful, it has it all from the mountain passes with switchbacks to some open scenery where you can enjoy the peaks above. All together I rode just over 3000 miles in Colorado in 8 days and want to go back. This loop is one of the best as far as scenery and towns to enjoy.
Take the time to make this trip if you are even close to Colorado, its worth it.

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By Guest
on May 28, 2013 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2013

Motorcycle Make Harley

Motorcycle Type Touring

Trike,Triglide, Ultra-Classic. Great ride for a trike, bike or car. Warning- even in heat of summer, freak storms, even snow can pop up. Carry proper warm clothes, and some "survival" gear (food,poncho,c-phone etc.) Other than that- be prepared for most awesome ride of your life!

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By ROADWHORE
on January 12, 2013 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 08

Motorcycle Make Harley Davidson Ultra Classic

Motorcycle Type Touring

I make it a point to ride this at least once a year. I is my favorite road. when we go yo the four corners Rally we ride it every day. It is steep and twisting with no guard rails. Awsom ride

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By Guest
on December 22, 2012 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2002

Motorcycle Make Kawasaki Voyager

Motorcycle Type Touring

We rode this ride in Aug 2012 from Ridgeway down 550 to Durango and then to Cortez. Great ride! Out of Ouray, we ran into rain in the mountains until we got to Silverton. Even in the rain, the ride is fantastic. Stop to enjoy the scenery along the way, it makes for a great ride. Mesa Verde is a must do.

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By tonyp
on September 13, 2012 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 1993

Motorcycle Make Honda 1500 Motor Trike

Motorcycle Type Touring

Rode this during the summer of 2011 with my wife. It was the best trip ever. Snow in the mountain in the middle of summer. Great roads, lots of turns, and wonderful views. Add this road to your must do motorcycle rides.

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By Guest
on February 24, 2011 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2007

Motorcycle Make Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle Type Cruiser

Best ride I have ever had! Simply breath taking.

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By Guest
on July 13, 2010 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

No Rating Provided

Motorcycle Year 2010

Motorcycle Make Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle Type Touring

We just finished this ride, 11 July 10, it is truly awesome. The roads were great and the views were breath taking. Make sure you take decent wet weather gear that is warm as the mountain passes are prone to wet chilly weather.

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By Guest
on August 27, 2008 1 out of 1 members found this review useful.

No Rating Provided

Motorcycle Year 2005

Motorcycle Make Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle Type Touring

We took the Ridgway – Silverton – Durango – (Mesa Verde) Cortez legs in late July. The roads were very good with spectacular views. Mesa Verde is a must see. Recommend taking your time. With all there is to see and do, this area could be a vacation destination on its own.

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By Giddy
on December 28, 2016 0 out of 0 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2008

Motorcycle Make Harley Davidson

Motorcycle Type Touring

Rode this route in June of 2016 this was by far for me the best ride in the state

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By WildPowerCat
on November 30, 2016 0 out of 0 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2013

Motorcycle Make Harley Davidson

Motorcycle Type Touring

Great Ride, Great Views, Great places to stop and experience.

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By Guest
on January 2, 2010 0 out of 0 members found this review useful.

No Rating Provided

Motorcycle Year

Motorcycle Make

Motorcycle Type

I have also elk hunted in this area and it has, without a doubt, some of the most beautiful scenery to be had. Nice sweeping curves, elevation changes, and good road. A must-ride road if you are in the area.

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By Guest
on October 5, 2009 0 out of 0 members found this review useful.

5.0out of 5

Motorcycle Year 2002

Motorcycle Make Honda

Motorcycle Type Touring

A great ride with fantastic scenery.

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By Guest
on July 16, 2009 0 out of 0 members found this review useful.

No Rating Provided

Motorcycle Year

Motorcycle Make

Motorcycle Type

Good write-up and I appreciate the submitter's time to do it. One small nit - the "Bridal Veil Falls" link goes to a waterfall with the same name in North Carolina.

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By Guest
on June 2, 2009 0 out of 0 members found this review useful.

No Rating Provided

Motorcycle Year 2007

Motorcycle Make Honda

Motorcycle Type Cruiser

We have been through the Smokies, which terrified me. The continous climbing of mountains without rails to keep me from falling 7000 feet was too much for me. How much of this trail is like this?

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