Sunday, May 1 Parade's cover story was "All American Adventure Drives" and the lead article was the Durango Million Dollar Highway.
Here's the complete article:
THE DRIVE The San Juan Skyway
TIME six to seven hours of driving, best done in two to three days
PARK Mesa Verde National Park, (970) 529-4465
Start this loop drive in the Wild West town of Durango, Colo. Heading west you’ll pass Mesa Verde National Park, famous for its ancient Native American cliff dwellings. Then traveling north through the San Juan National Forest, you’ll follow the Dolores River before hitting Lizard Head Pass, with views of several 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks, and entering the Uncompahgre National Forest. Explore the historic silver mining town of Telluride (where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank in 1889) before looping up to Ridgway and then south to the Victorian town of Ouray. Here the route follows a stretch of road called the “Million Dollar Highway” (so named for the gold dust supposedly in the fill dirt used to build the road in the late 1800s) to Silverton. Then it parallels the tracks of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, eventually bringing you back to Durango.
The rugged mountain scenery alone is worth making this drive, but the colorful human history you’ll witness along the way adds quite a bit of mystique. “All kinds of people shaped this area,” says Cristy Brown, public information officer at Mesa Verde National Park, starting with the Ancestral Puebloans (formerly called the Anasazi) who built the cliff dwellings in the park. Long after the community was abandoned, the Utes made it their home. In 1776, Spanish explorers came through, and in the late 1800s this became mining country.
“You can learn a lot about all these diverse groups—especially the miners—at the Telluride Historical Museum,” Brown says. “In Silverton, you can take a tour that actually goes into the gold mining tunnels.”
SELFIE SPOT Stop at any pullout in the 70-mile stretch between Ouray and Durango, where you’re likely to get mountains, waterfalls and historic mining buildings in the background—and maybe even a few big-horned sheep.
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