OURAY — Without a doubt, Red Mountain Pass has a notorious reputation for being one of Colorado’s most difficult and dangerous mountain passes to drive over.
At 11,018 ft. in elevation, the pass connects Silverton and Ouray.
“[It’s] infamous because of cliff drop-offs, no guardrails, but it’s also incredibly beautiful! It is so gorgeous!” said Kat Papenbrock, the Executive Director of the Ouray Tourism Office.
Papenbrock is correct. The beauty up there is unmatched. A portion of U.S. 550 on the pass called, ‘The Million Dollar Highway,' is known for its million dollar views.
According to C-DOT, the average daily traffic at the summit of Red Mountain Pass is 2,100 vehicles.
Despite its dangerous reputation, the Ouray Tourism Office just received a huge award for the 'Million Dollar Highway’ from the popular travel company, ‘Arrivalist’.
"Turned out that the Million Dollar Highway was the big surprise for most visited attraction!” Papenbrock said. "We beat out the Denver Zoo, the Botanic Gardens, the Museum of Nature and Science and even Red Rocks”.
Granted accidents do happen on the pass from time to time and it is prone to avalanches, Papenbrock said it’s safer than most people think.
"I’d say probably driving on I-25 outside of Denver is probably more dangerous on a daily basis than driving Red Mountain Pass or the Million Dollar Highway,” Papenbrock said with a laugh.
The award from ‘Arrivalist’ is currently on display at the visitor’s center in Ouray.
Colorado is home to 35 accessible Mountain Passes, according to C-DOT.