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Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

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Austin, Texas
posts: 356
reviews: 1
Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

Taking my girlfriend to Durango in January (3 days in Durango, 1 day in Telluride). We might want to spend one day driving out to Ouray for the day. I drove the million dollar highway to Ouray from Durango this past summer so I'm familiar with it but how safe is it to drive in January? Is it even open during that time of year? Would love to have the option of driving out to Ouray but I have to consider the risks as well during this time of year.

Thanks!

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 8,148
reviews: 112
1. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

A lot depends on the weather. The highway is generally open, plowed and maintained. It might even be dry. However, it sometimes sees closures because the three passes quite often get heavy snow. . Even if open, drivers should have good tires and use extreme caution because there can be patches of ice. As you know, there are several spots with little or no margin for error.

Edited: 8:30 am, September 10, 2013
Colorado
Destination Expert
for Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Crested Butte, Gunnison
posts: 3,515
reviews: 94
2. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

Depending on the weather, the trip can range from smooth sailing to undrivable. Check the CDOT travel website before any winter travel.

http://www.cotrip.org/home.htm;jsessionid=731C5C75540630710DF1BFB38BEB4B1E.node1

Fruita, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Fruita, Grand Junction
posts: 4,523
reviews: 185
3. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

Here's a YouTube video that I think give you a good idea of what the road will be like if it's been plowed after a light snow. There will be areas where it will be in shadow, icy and slick. There will be areas without any room for error. So, if you are not an experienced driver in snow, are already going to Telluride via one of the most scenic roads around (Dallas Divide), then imho, skip the Million Dollar Hwy in Jan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v68B0-vdZFE

Austin, Texas
posts: 356
reviews: 1
4. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

Hmmmm after watching the video SusieLou posted I'm thinking I might want to skip the MDH this time around. I do have some experience driving in the snow but as a Texan it's obviously very limited. And ice patches really spook me. If I were to attempt such a drive that time of year I would be driving so slow it would probably take 4 hours to get there and 4 hours back which would not leave very much time to spend in Ouray.

I still need to research the drive from Durango to Telluride, have never made this trek before. Good to know it's very scenic and probably much safer than MDH.

Thanks to all for the input!

Edited: 4:05 pm, September 10, 2013
Austin, Texas
posts: 356
reviews: 1
5. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

I take that back, I believe I have driven the Dallas Divide (well not me, my shuttle driver). When I first visited Telluride about 3 winters ago our plane attempted to land in Telluride but could not so instead took us to Cortez where we hopped a shuttle and drove to Telluride. Is that the Dallas Divide? I remember that drive being very scenic indeed, I am looking forward to that drive again.

Fruita, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Fruita, Grand Junction
posts: 4,523
reviews: 185
6. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

Nope, for some reason I had you landing in Montrose and going to Telluride from there. That would have included the Dallas Divide portion (Ridgway going west). So, you will be traveling over Hwy 145 and Lizard Head Pass. A much easier drive, but if the wind picks up it can blow snow. So, as suggested, check road conditions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCclsVAVz4U

As you can tell, I love the visual. Glad the YouTube video helped.

Austin, Texas
posts: 356
reviews: 1
7. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

Oh ok, no we'll be landing in Durango, staying there for 3 days then driving to Telluride (Hwy 145), then returning back to Durango the same way to fly back home.

However I did drive from Ouray to Telluride (going through Ridgway) this past July so I guess I have driven the Dallas Divide (EXTREMELY SCENIC).

Texas
posts: 1
reviews: 10
8. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

No way is it safe in my book. Yes...they keep it open, but I certainly would not drive it right now, and it's April 1st.

9. Re: Is Million Dollar Highway safe to drive in January?

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