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Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

Chicago, IL
3 posts
Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

My wife and I are going to be driving from Durango to Telluride in the second week of July. I've driven through the mountains several times (Trail Ridge Rd - Estes Park, Denver-Crested Butte via Monarch Pass, etc). Though I love the scenery, I'm a white-knuckled type of driver in the mountains and prefer the least tricky/tricky roads I can possibly find. It looks like there's only a couple ways into Telluride from Durango. I could use your help figuring out the easiest route.

Telluride's tourism website advises taking the following route:

1) Follow Route 160 from Durango to Mancos.

2) Turn right onto Route 184 towards Dolores.

3) Turn right onto Route 145, just south of Dolores.

4) Follow 145 into Telluride. About 3 miles out of town, Route 145 will T.

5) Turn right. Telluride is three more miles.

Travel time: 2.5 hours.

Thanks!

Charleston, South...
Destination Expert
for Charleston, South Carolina, Telluride
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13,314 posts
51 reviews
1. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

That is correct. The other route is Hwy 550, over Red Mountain Pass to Ouray, to Ridgway. Take a left onto Hwy 62 at Ridgway and follow that to Route 145 where you will turn left and continue to Telluride.

This route travels over the Million Dollar Hwy, which is spectacularly beautiful - but has sheer drop offs and in some areas no guard rails. I have driven it many times and am fine with it, but many people would consider it "white knuckle". It's just gorgeous (much more so than the other route) if you can handle it.

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
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11,562 posts
178 reviews
2. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

The Durango>Silverton>Ouray route is definitely more "white knuckle" in a few spots, particularly in the approx 12 mile section just south of Ouray. If you wanted to drive that way, if you are travelling south to north, you would be on the inside lane next to the mountain rather than on the dropoff side for that section. I love the scenery both routes but I have the white knuckle problem myself so if I am driving I much prefer the Dolores route. It is only slightly less jaw-dropping -awesomely- beautiful but no white knuckles.

http://www.stevegarufi.com/mountains.htm

I've found that it doesn't take much longer to just drive on past the Mesa Verde entrance to the intersection of 145 just east of Cortez & turn there toward Dolores. I enjoy going that way because you get some nice views of Sleeping Ute Mountain southwest of Cortez if you stop and look that direction.

http://www.utemountainute.com/legends.htm

sanjuanimages.com/ZoomedPrints/UteMountain02…

Edited: 25 May 2011, 05:51
Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
3. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

Welcome to the forum.

Route 184 from Mancos also is a nice and very easy drive along a Bison farm and some lakes. Maybe try to visit Anasazi Hertige Center before Dolores. And if you are looking for a nice breakfast try Mancos Bakery. (also sandwiches to go)

It's a pity us550 scares you. It's one of the most scenic mountaindrives in the country but it's more "white knuckles" than Monarch pass. If you still decide to drive million $ highway try to be in Silverton by noon and see the train from Durango arrive. And you would not want to miss Ouray either. But the Dolores route will be easier.

Tet

Chicago, IL
3 posts
4. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

Thank you, everybody. For a city-slicker like me, I think I'll stick to the easier route for now. Trail Ridge was quite an accomplishment for me considering my dislike of cliff-hanging drives. For TR, my wife gave me what I thought were two anti-anxiety pills (clonazepam). She told me nearly a year later that they were just placebos (asperin or ibuprofen, I think!). Regardless, it worked and somehow I calmed down for the drive.

Thanks for all the tips! Very helpful -- all of you.

Uden, The...
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for Road Trips
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60,942 posts
42 reviews
5. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

I would not call ibuprofen a placebo but as long as it worked....;)

Telluride...
Destination Expert
for Telluride
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462 posts
9 reviews
6. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

If it's after June and you have a 4x4 you can take one whole hour off the driving time by going over Ophir Pass. (from Hwy. 550, Just north of Silverton)

Uden, The...
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for Road Trips
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60,942 posts
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7. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

I don't think Ophir pass is the best option to people with a fear of heights Ttown.......')

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
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11,562 posts
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8. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

Sounds like nadair will be in a rental car, though, so travel on rough gravel roads not recommended as it is an excluded use on most rental contracts. Plus he wants to avoid the Durango-Silverton-Ouray route. But the Ophir Pass route might be suitable for travellers in their own 4x4 or a 4x4 rented from one of the jeep rental places.

Telluride...
Destination Expert
for Telluride
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462 posts
9 reviews
9. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

Just have someone else drive?

Howell, Michigan
6 posts
1 review
10. Re: Best Driving Route: Durango to Telluride

I found I was more comfortable driving it than being a passenger (lack of control I guess). Absolutely stunning drive!!