Ouray to Silverton & Return
This 7 hour, 232 mile loop can be a long day depending on how much you stop along the way. You’ll be passing through Ridgeway, Telluride, Cortex, Durango, and Silverton. Each of these towns is unique, so allow some time for exploring each one.
You can start out ton the loop going either direction on HWY 550, south through Silverton and Durango or north and west through Ridgeway and Telluride. In determining your route, remember that you’ll want to be driving between Ouray and Durango during daylight hours.
The San Juan Skyway encircles half of the largest mountain range in Colorado, includes ancient lands of the Anasazi and many of the m most productive mining camps in the US. This is one of the most scenic drives in America.
Round Trip Time: The full tour takes approximately 7 hours, not accounting for stops. You ay be interested in exploring Mesa Verde. It can take the better part of a day to visit the ruins themselves so don’t try to include this stop in the round-trip time.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
It’s an easy drive from Ouray to the Black Canyon just 10 miles was of Montrose
No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Stop at the outstanding Park Visitor Center and its overlook into the canyon. From there, you can visit any nu per of many overlooks which vary in walking distances or drive the rim and see the entire canyon.
Entrance to the Black Canyon is $15 for a noncommercial vehicle and $7 for pedestrians, bicycles, and motorcycles.
Round Trip Time: Ouray to the Black Canyon and back will take about 3 hours of driving, not including stops.
Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic & Historic Byway
This spectacular drive through the Unaweep Canyon to Uravan takes you through a land of contrasts from arid deserts to lush green valleys. There are many unique points of interest along this historic byway: Uravan, where 60% of the uranium that was used for the U.S.’s first atomic bomb was mined; the hanging flume, and engineered marvel which turned out to be a financial embarrassment and maintenance nightmare; Was Creek and West Creek, two streams separated by a divide, each flowing in opposite directions, petroglyphs (rock art) attributes to the Uncompahgre people who inhabited the region from about 0 to 1300 A.D.
To start your trip through the canyon, drive north from Ouray and turn west at Ridgeway onto Why 62. At the Placerville Junction, follow Hwy 145 northwest through Norwood and Nucla. Just beyond Nucla, Hwy 141 turns north towards Uravan. Your canyon drive will end in Whitewater, a small ranching community just south of Grand Junction. Historical literature on the Unaweep Canyon and information on the above mentioned interest point is available at many of Ouray’s book stores.
Round Trip Time: The scenic drive to whitewater will take approximately 4 hours, not including stops. The return trip from Grand Junction to Ouray will take about 2 hours, driving south on Hwy 50& 550
Colorado National Monument-Rim Rock Drive
Colorado National Monument was established in 1911 to preserve on of the grand landscapes of the American West. Along the mile Rim Rock Drive, you’ll see brilliantly colored, towering masses of naturally sculpted rock.
Along Rim Rock Drive, there are several short foot trails leading back into the canyons. There are also plenty of overlooks and two picnic areas with tables, charcoal grills, water and restrooms.
To reach the entrance to the Colorado National Monument, drive north from Ouray on Hwy 550 & 50 to Grand Junction. When you reach Grand Junction, follow Hwy 50 north to the intersection of Grand Avenue (Hwy 340) and turn left onto Hwy 340. From there, follow the signs to Colorado National Monument to enter the park at East Grand junction Entrance.
The charge to enter the park is $10 per car and $5 for pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles. The Visitor Center is about 3/4 of the along the Rim Rock Drive.
You will exit the ark at the West (Fruita) entrance onto Hwy 340. Turn south and follow Hwy 340 back to Hwy 50 and back south to Ouray.
Round Trip Time: The scenic drive to the Colorado National Monument will take approximately 2.5 hours, not including stops. The return trip from grand Junctions to Ouray will take about 2 hours, driving south on Hwy 50 & 550.
Grand Mesa Scenic & Historical Byway
spectacular aspen colors sis the prime time to make the drive.
Drive north from Ouray to Delta (1 hours) and turn east onto Hwy 92. Just was of Delta, you will be turning north onto Hwy 65 going towards Cedaredge. You will slowly tour upwards to an altitude of 10,000’, first through the rolling hills of apple orchard county and then into the higher aspen groves. Be sure to look back as yo rise in altitude since you have a magnificent view of the San Juan and Cimarron ranges and the beautiful green valleys below.
The 530 sq. miles of the Grand Mesa makes it the largest flat-topped mountain in the country. The national forest is dotted with more than 220 lakes and streams.
If you didn’t pack your lunch in Ouray, be sure to stop in Cedaredge. and get a picnic lunch to enjoy on the Mesa at any number of spectacular locations.
Round Trip Time: The trip over the Grand Mesa from Ouray will take approximately 2.5 hours. The return trip from Grand Junction to Ouray will take about 2 hours driving south along Hwy 50 & 550.