Last Dollar Road
Finding and driving one of Colorado's best back country roads.
This is Dallas Divide Colorado. It is on Colorado Highway 62, just before you make the turn onto Last Dollar Road. More info on this picture.
Article on finding and driving Last Dollar Road is just below.
Driving Last Dollar Road
Last Dollar Road is one of the all-time-best Colorado back roads. There are great Colorado vistas around almost every corner, and believe me, there are lots of corners on this road. I try to drive Last Dollar Road every year and I never come home without at least one good image. Don't try this road until at least late June when most of the snow should be gone.
The very best time to see Last Dollar Road is in the fall when the aspens are turning. This usually happens sometime between the 20th of September and the 10th of October. Right around the end of September is usually the peak of the fall foliage in the San Juan mountains. Although, any time from late June through the summer and up to perhaps the end of October is a great time to travel Last Dollar Road. As the seasons change, the views also change.
The drive takes you from Dallas Divide, over the west end of the Sneffles Range, to Telluride. The road isn't difficult and can often be done in most two wheel cars that have a decent amount of clearance. An SUV is the best way to drive the road though. There can be mud puddles on the Telluride side that may stop two wheel vehicles. If it is wet or snowy, I wouldn't attempt it even in four wheel drive. There is a lot of gumbo on the road that can get very slick and deep in the rain. Also, there are a couple spots where if you slide off the road you are going to go a long, long way down. And you definitely don't want to do that. I'd take an SUV to drive this road, that's the best bet.
To find Last Dollar Road drive south of Montrose on US 550 about twenty miles until you come to Ridgeway. At Ridgeway turn west onto Colorado 62 for about ten miles until you reach the top of Dallas divide, a small 8970' pass. Don't forget to look off to your left, south, as you drive up the pass. This is truly some of the most glorious scenery in Colorado or anywhere else for that matter of fact.
Continue driving over the top of Dallas Divide. Just over the top, turn left onto Last Dollar Road. There is a sign at the turn. There are lots of beautiful scenes almost immediately. For a while you drive along a flat bench At a proximately 6 1/2 miles from Dallas Divide the road forks. The right fork goes down to Sawpit which is on CO 145. Don't take this right fork. Take the left fork which takes you over the mountains and down to the Telluride Airport with tons of gorgeous scenery along the way.
Shortly after taking the left fork mentioned above, Last Dollar Road starts climbing in easy switchbacks over the end of the Sneffles range. About ten curves up you come to the place where I took the picture I call Aspen Road which you can see just above and to the left. You probably won't even recognize the spot. I've been back several times and even I hardly recognize it myself. The last time I was there, almost all the leaves were off the trees, the white trunks were all mud spattered, and the road a badly rutted mixture of mud and old, crushed Aspen leaves. I had thought I might try to get another Aspen Road picture but when I got there it looked so un-scenic that I didn't shoot a single shot. I never seem to be able to remember that all good photographs are one-on-a-kind things; they exist for a split second in time and are then gone forever. They never seem to be repeatable.
Enjoy your trip on Last Dollar Road. If you feel like it, drop me an email and let me know how it went. Below are more scenes from Last Dollar Road and Dallas Divide.