San Juan Skyway
San Juan Skyway
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Brian Welker / EyeEm/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Natural Wonders, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

If you're looking to get off the slopes and out of the town for a day, hit the road on the San Juan Skyway. This free historic byway, which is affectionately called the "road to the sky," loops through 11 towns and two national forests in southwestern Colorado. It measures 233 miles long and includes Colorado State Highway 145, U.S. Route 550, Colorado State Highway 62 and U.S. Route 160.

The route is designated as an "All-American Road," what the U.S. Secretary of Transportation deems notable based on its "archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities," and meets Telluride on Highway 145, less than 4 miles outside of town. While on the road, drivers and passengers will encounter breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains. Other sights accessible via the 24-hour byway include Mesa Verde National Park's prehistoric ruins, the Anasazi Heritage Center and the Ridgway Railroad Museum.

Although this windy, cliffside road made a few past visitors feel a bit uncomfortable at times, many said its "amazing" scenery can't be missed. Without stops, previous travelers said the road takes five to six hours to complete, but photo ops are plentiful, so several suggest alloting at least a full day.

Some of the best parts of the skyway are secluded stretches of road, but it's important to keep safety in mind. Keep an eye on your gas gauge when making a stop and bring along snacks and water, as well as any hiking supplies you might need if you want to stop and explore on foot. Inquire about road conditions during the winter, and be mindful of afternoon thunderstorms in the warmer months. To learn more about the byway, check out Visit Telluride's San Juan Skyway page.

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