How is the drive from Grand Junction to Durango? Is it pleasant and easy or full of hair-pin turns, etc.
Grand Junction to Ridgway is a straight, easy drive--four lane to Montrose, two lane after that. From Montrose to Ouray is a beautiful, easy drive, but you do have to watch for traffic turning onto side roads and onto the highway from side roads. You need to be careful of passing slow moving traffic because there's probably someone up ahead trying to turn left. You also need to watch for deer along the road. From Ouray to Durango is mountain driving, with three mountain passes to cross, involving some hair pin turns along with quite a few straight stretches; the problem some people have with this drive is that there are some very steep dropoffs on sections of the highway which have no guardrails and little or no shoulder. The 12 mile section just south of Ouray where the road travels along the cliffs above the Uncompahgre River Gorge is generally considered the most "white knuckle" section. The good news is that section is mostly straight and flat. It is a gorgeous drive and many people do not have any problem with it (like my DH); others (like myself), do not like it and would rather go the longer way around the San Juan Skyway loop from Ridgway to Telluride to Dolores to Cortez to Durango. That drive is almost equally gorgeous with some mountain driving but without the white knuckles.
You can google "Million Dollar Highway" for pictures and videos.
missp has given some great advice. If you back up to the main CO forum page and look at the Top Questions section in the right hand column you will see a topic called "Can you please describe the San Juan Skyway (Million $ Hwy) in SW CO." Clicking on that will open up a whole variety of links for you to see that will give more detailed info on the drive south from Ouray.
You don't say when you are doing this trip but in winter this road can be icy and sometimes closed due to weather conditions. You can always check road conditions at www.cotrip.org for the latest news. In the fall both of the drives missp described are gorgeous with the aspens turning gloriously gold but the traffic is also much heavier and likely to make some sudden stops for photo opps. One of those people being me. : )
Thanks for the additional comments, SusieLou. I didn't even think of asking when the trip is planned! In the wintertime, I would definitely take another route to Durango if at all possible.
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