I must start off by saying although this is a long ride, it’s absolutely worth it!!! As a matter of fact, depending on how long you are in the area you might even go back to different areas of this ride. There is so much to see and do along this route.
That being said, let’s do this!!! We were staying at Ouray KOA at the time of this ride but decided to start it at the Conoco gas station in Ridgway for those not camping at the KOA.
A Great Place To Start
The Conoco gas station is a great place to start anyway because you can top off your tank and get some coffee to begin your ride. When you leave the Conoco gas station you will exit toward the back of the station and head to the traffic light. At this light, you will make a left onto US-550. If you came into Conoco from the back way, make a left out of the exit onto US-550.
As you look ahead down the road you will see a most picturesque view of the mountains. Spoiler Alert!!! You can expect to see views like this and better all day long!!!
At the beginning of this ride, as you approach the town of Ouray, there are a few really good spots/overlooks to pull over and get some awesome pictures. You will pass things like an ax-throwing area (yes, I said ax throwing), the Ouray hot springs, the visitor center, and then pass through the town of Ouray.
Small Town/Low Speed Limit
Ouray is a small town with a very low speed limit. Depending on what time of year you go it can be very populated so be very cautious coming through town.
Once you are through the town, you will curve around to your right and then be hit almost immediately with your first switchback!!! You are now on the section they call “The Million Dollar Highway.”
No Guardrails/No Shoulder/Steep Drop-Offs
From here on until you reach Silverton there are numerous curves and switchbacks. Most of this section is very narrow and there are only a few (and I mean a few) sections with guardrails. Most sections have no guardrails and little to no shoulder with extremely deep drops so be very careful riding this road.
Elevation Is Greater Than 10,000 Feet
My advice is to not try and break any speed records. Enjoy the ride and all of its curves and beauty. You will be climbing to an elevation of over 10,000 feet in some areas. Some areas you might even still see snow!!! We did and we did this ride at the end of June!!! About halfway through you will be on Red Mountain Pass.
Watch For Road Construction
I don’t know when you will be doing this ride but I must warn anyone doing it in 2019. There is a section of this road (I’m guessing at least 5 miles) that is torn up for repaving. The road surface changes between loose gravel and gravel. It can be extremely dangerous as some of these sections are on curves and switchbacks.
There are numerous signs warning motorcyclists about these dangers and we highly suggest you heed the warnings!!!
Once you pass the loose gravel it’s back to the normal curves and switchbacks. As I stated earlier, depending on when you ride this you may or may not encounter this road work.
Most of our rides we feel like we are pulling over constantly to grab pictures. We did not do that here. Between the curves and lack of shoulders, we decided it would be much safer to just videotape.
We Took Most Of The Stills With Our Truck
The stills you see associated with this ride were taken by us in the truck. We actually went back and did parts of this ride in the truck to get the stills. We felt the sections of road with a little bit of a shoulder were not safe to pull over with a motorcycle. They were dirt or gravel and sloped away from the road.
Get Off And Stretch
Anyway, moving on you will eventually come to Silverton. You will see the welcome to Silverton sign and then the road will end. You will need to make a right or left. By this point, you may want to get off the bike and stretch or top off your tank if you did not fill up at the Conoco station. No worries, there is another Conoco station on the corner.
This Section Calmed A Bit
The section of road between Silverton and Durango was nice and relaxing. There were a few big curves and switchbacks at the beginning but then it kind of calmed down. At this point, you will just sit back and enjoy the ride and scenery. Maybe even let up on your handlebar grip a bit…lol.
Lots Of Traffic Lights
As you approach Durango your scenery will go from mountain and forest views to a commercial area with lots of traffic. This area also has plenty of gas stations and eateries if needed. Thankfully this does not last all that long before you reach your turnoff onto US-160. This will have you out of the San Juan National Forest.
Farmland/Residential/Treed All Mixed In
We continued down US-160 until our turn off onto CO-145. US-160 was a combination of farmland, treed area, and residentual area. Right after we made our turn, we noticed a Maverick gas station in Cortez on the left side. We decided it was time to take a break. The restrooms were clean and there were picnic tables outside so we decided it was a good time for a snack.
Starts Off OK/Turns Into Amazing
After refueling, relaxing, and using the restrooms we were on our way again. Back onto CO-145, we went. CO-145 starts out ok but turns into amazing. It will bring you into the town of Delores and back into the San Juan National Forest.
Beautiful View Of Trout Lake
As you travel through Delores you will follow along the Delores river and enjoy awesome scenic views and a beautiful view of Trout Lake. Check out our Facebook page for the short video of Trout Lake. If you are in this area in the late afternoon/early evening you will need to watch for deer and other animals.
We Skipped Telluride Due To A Festival
You will travel through Rico and eventually get to a traffic circle in Telluride. There was a big festival going on in Telluride and it was getting late so we skipped Telluride and continued around the circle and got off onto CO-145.
As with the rest of this ride, CO-145 continued with beautiful mountain scenery. We followed this road just listening to our tunes and enjoying the ride until we came upon Highway 62. We made our right to head back into Ridgeway where it all began.
Pizza And Root Beer Floats!!!
Once back in Ridgeway we were starving and wanted to eat. There was a pizza place just on the other side of the Conoco gas station (where we started) and chowed down on pizza and root beer floats.
After filling our bellies, we headed back to the KOA. Great scenery, great riding, great day all around.
If you rode this route and would like to share your experience or have any other comments or questions, feel free to leave a comment down below.
Date Of Ride: June 25th, 2019
Est Miles: 237
Check Out Our Slideshow Below Featuring 189 Photos Of This Ride
Check Out Our Videos Below. This one takes us half way to Silverton.
Part 2. This Video Takes You The Rest Of The Way Into Silverton