The 35th edition of Ride the Rockies starts and stops in Durango with a loop on day one in Durango and a loop on day five in Ridgeway exploring the Uncompahgre Plateau. On the final day riders will tackle one of the most scenic roads in North America as they follow Highway 550 from Ridgeway to Durango also known as the Million Dollar Highway.
For the second year in a row, the Ride the Rockies route is a loop, simplifying logistics while taking riders on a breathtaking adventure around one of the most scenic areas in all of Colorado. Besides Durango, other host communities along this 6-day, 418-mile clockwise tour include Cortez, Norwood, and Ouray County. Along the way are challenging uphill encounters with Lizard Head Pass, Red Mountain Pass, Molas Pass, and Coal Bank Pass, which together account for the bulk of the route’s 28,484 feet of climbing.
The profile of the route looks like the sawtooth shaped rugged San Juan mountains riders will be riding through.
During — and between — those ascents is a bounty of spectacular scenery. Indeed, the 2020 route rolls along the banks of the Animas River, winds through Southern Ute Tribal Land, climbs the Uncompahgre Plateau, and ventures deep (and high) into the San Juan Mountains. This year’s route also includes a few forays off pavement and onto packed dirt roads, which means less time on busier roads and a little extra adventure. Add it all up and this will truly be the bike ride of a lifetime
Some highlights along the route will include riding through postcard like alpine towns such as Telluride, Ouray, and Silverton, and riding over one of the most photographed places in the state for fall foliage, that of Dallas Divide just west of Ridgeway.
Why is It Called the Million Dollar Highway?
The road was originally created by Otto Mears as a toll way in 1883 and operated as such until the 1920s when it was rebuilt. Historians aren’t certain of why this highway has its name. One explanation is that an early traveler was so overcome by vertigo on the steep and winding stretch of road that he insisted he would never travel it again, even if he was paid a million dollars.
Norwood is making its debut as a stopover town. Norwood is a small, historic mining town and the area was home for centuries of the UTE Native Americans. For more information please check this link out.