To Silverton, the Million Dollar Highway, and a Ghost Town
After spending a night in Durango, I headed up one of my favorite stretches of highway in America. US 550, the San Juan Skyway, heads north from Durango to Silverton, passing over Coal Bank and Molas Passes. Along the way, I found some picture-perfect scenes, with mirror-surfaced lakes and old livestock corrals, all surrounded by golden leaves.
Once in Silverton, I ventured out onto another dirt road, one that I had been hoping to travel for years. Animas Forks is a ghost town, nestled deep in the San Juan Mountains. A bumpy, but passable dirt road provides the only easy access (although there are a couple of other, very rough 4x4 trails that connect to the town. Once in the ghost town, there are dozens of old buildings to explore, along with the ruins of the town's old mining operations.
It took a good portion of the day to drive out to Animas Forks and back into Silverton. My hotel for the next two nights was in Telluride (just a few miles away, as the crow flies, but a significant distance by road). Unfortunately, it was starting to get dark, in between the mountains, but I was still able to enjoy the "Million Dollar Highway" portion of the San Juan Skyway, from Silverton to Ouray. I arrived in Ridgway (the top of the San Juan Skyway Loop) just in time to take a few pictures before the sun set. Then, I drove on to Telluride in the twilight.