”America’s Most Beautiful Drive”

Total Number of Days/Nights: 6

Travel the San Juan Skyway in Southwestern Colorado, called "The Most Beautiful Drive in America." Stops along this All American Road include:
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Mining Towns
  • Ski Resorts
  • Wilderness Areas
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Victorian Architecture
  • Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
  • Hot Springs
  • Spectacular San Juan Mountains
  • Hiking Trails
  • Spectacular Summer Wildflowers/Fall Colors
  • Western Adventures

    The San Juan Skyway is located in Southwestern Colorado. It is a circular route and may be started at any stop along the way. Air access is possible through the towns of Cortez, Durango, Telluride, and Montrose, all with connecting flights through DIA. Car or coach from either Albuquerque, NM (4 hours/261 miles/420 kilometers) on NM highways 150 and 64, and CO highway 160/491 brings you to the Southwest Corner of Colorado to begin in Cortez, CO, or access from Denver, CO (8hours/458 miles/737 kilometers) on I25 to Grand Junction, CO 50 to Ridgway begins the route there. This itinerary will start with the Cortez access, but it could be picked up at any day along the way and followed in a different sequence. As an added bonus, this route is spectacular in the fall when the aspens change to bright gold and red.
  • Day One: Arrive Cortez, CO

    Plan to arrive in time to enjoy the old west with an authentic stagecoach dinner ride. From Cortez go east to the town of Mancos (5 miles/12 kilometers.) At the junction of Highways 160/184 turn south on Main, through Mancos and then 5 miles/8 kilometers south on County Road #41 to the Stagecoach stop. Enjoy the true western flair of a stagecoach ride and a great cowboy cookout.

    Day Two: Mesa Verde National Park, CO

    (9 miles/14.5 kilometers East of Cortez to entrance)

    Visit the spectacular cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages in this world-renowned National Park. Mesa Verde, a World Heritage Site, has been voted #1 Historic Monument in the World. Ranger-guided, self-guided, and half-day guided tours are available in the park. Enjoy dinner in the park at the famous Metate Room with views that will take your breath away.

    Day Three: Drive to Durango, CO

    (45 miles/72 kilometers East of Cortez, Highway 160)

    Take a ride on the historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Visit the historic town of Silverton for lunch and shopping and then return to Durango in the afternoon. Take time to explore historic downtown Durango and then enjoy a rodeo, western stage show, or melodrama in the evening.

    Day Four: Depart Durango North on Highway 550 toward Silverton and then Highway 110, over what is also called the Million Dollar Highway into the town of Ouray — "The Switzerland of America."

    (47 miles/76 kilometers to Silverton, 23 miles/35 kilometers to Ouray.)

    Be sure to allow plenty of time to drive this route as the winding roads go through the mountains and are quite beautiful. Plan to make stops for photos and to enjoy the vistas, waterfalls, deserted mining towns, and possible wildlife along the way. Upon arrival in Ouray enjoy the charming Victorian architecture, soak in the natural hot springs, visit several of the beautiful waterfalls, or take a hike or jeep ride into the mountains.

    Day Five: Depart Ouray for Ridgway, CO

    (11 miles/18 kilometers North on Highway 110, and then take Highway 62 West to Telluride (27 miles/43 kilometers)

    Spend a leisurely morning in Ouray and then head to Ridgway, CO for a "John Wayne" lunch at the True Grit Café. After lunch continue on to Telluride. A National Historic District, Telluride is known for it's Victorian architecture, mining history and spectacular scenery. Take a gondola ride to Mountain Village for a great view of the spectacular scenery. Hike along the River Trail or enjoy one of the many festivals for which Telluride is famous.

    Day Six: Depart Telluride for Cortez, CO on Highway 145 South

    (79 miles/127 kilometers)

    This route travels past beautiful Trout Lake and over Lizard Head Pass, the beginning of a wilderness area. It then follows the Dolores River through the beautiful Dolores Canyon and the San Juan National Forest into the town of Dolores. Many hiking trails are located along this part of the drive. Take time to hike into this spectacular area, or after you pass through Dolores on your way to Cortez, take a small detour on Highway 184 and visit the Anasazi Heritage Center, an archaeological museum and headquarters for the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. After this detour continue on to Cortez. Visit the Cortez Cultural Center in the evening for free Indian Dances and Cultural Programs