Renting an RV from Cruise America allowed us to comfortably tour the National Parks of Colorado. You can read our full review of Cruise America rental RVs here. You can also view our entire 3,200 mile Summer road trip itinerary to Colorado and Utah by clicking here. Dave has many fond memories of driving the Million Dollar highway with his family as a kid, and couldn’t wait to drive it in our rental RV so we planned it into our itinerary.
Million Dollar Highway Amphitheater Campground in Ouray
After our lovely day in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we drove for about an our to the beautiful town of Ouray where we stayed for the night at the Amphitheater Campground which is part of the Uncompahgre National Forest. It was a little bit of a challenge to get the rental RV up the narrow roads and small bridges and even more of a challenge to fit in our site but we finally managed to maneuver back and forth to park. Once we were parked we walked around the campground to look around. What a beautiful place! The trees are lush and since we were up on the mountains, the views were unbelievable. At night the stars were amazing and we stayed up late to stargaze. This is a wonderful place to camp if you are ever in this part of the country.
Million Dollar Highway
The next morning was crisp and clear and we set off back down the narrow road and back over the tiny bridge into town. Dave was especially excited as today we were driving the “Million Dollar Highway” on our way to Mesa Verde National Park. This is a 25 mile stretch of U.S. Route 550 between Ouray and Silverton. Known as one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world, Dave has always wanted to drive this stretch of road. While definitely beautiful, this road is also quite harrowing with narrow shelf roads and steep drop-offs. As a passenger, it was a gorgeous drive but the views were lost on Dave since he had to fully concentrate to be able to safely drive. The road is only two lanes and there are many turns so not only do you need to be especially cautious, you hope that all the other drivers on the road are as well! Driving south had us on the outside edge of the road-yikes! I did my best to just look straight ahead and chose to not look over the edge cause I knew it would freak me out. Dave did great but I’ll be honest, I was relieved when we made it to Silverton.
Million Dollar Highway: Silverton, Colorado
Silverton, Colorado is a small mountain town which serves as one of the depots of the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train. Passengers ride between the two towns through the San Juan National Forest. While a ride on the train is a wonderful experience, it will set you back $85 for a standard ticket so we had decided not to book a trip. It was lunch time as we arrived in town so we parked the RV and looked around for a place to eat. Catering to tourists, there were many choices and we stepped into the Brown Bear Cafe for good diner type food which we all enjoyed. As luck would have it, just as we finished up and left, the train pulled into town right in front of us. We were happy to get to see it up close and took lots of pictures.
The towns of Ouray and Silverton and the drive along the Million Dollar Highway are what makes a trip to Colorado so special. Because travel between destination becomes part of the fun and there is always gorgeous scenery to look at, it never gets monotonous. It was “just” another great day in the beautiful state of Colorado. On to Mesa Verde National Park!