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The Million Dollar Highway

By Linda Tancs

As far as scenic road trips go, you needn’t pack your bags for the Swiss mountain passes to get the grandest views.   In fact, the “Switzerland of America” is right in western Colorado.  Just head to US Highway 550 between Ouray and Silverton in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.  Known as the Million Dollar Highway, the former toll road sports the same hairpin turns (sans guard rails, of course) and tremendous vistas you would expect in alpine Europe.  The challenging drive takes you through three mountain passes; the highest is Red Mountain Pass at over 11,000 feet.  The origin of the highway’s name is disputed.  Perhaps that’s just as well because the views are, in any event, priceless.


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