Do some of Colorado's mountain roads send a chill down your spine? You're not alone.
Most won't find it too surprising that one of the most infamous highways in the Centennial State was recently dubbed one of the 'deadliest' roads in the country.
US Route 550, also known as the 'Million Dollar Highway,' ranked second on a list of the 10 deadliest roads around the United States, published by FindMyPlate.com.
Best-known for connecting Ouray to Silverton over about 20 miles, US 550 has no shortage of hairpin turns, narrow sections, and massive drop-offs that fall into a valley far below. Combine these factors with the road's winter conditions, lack of guardrails, and rockfall risk, and there are plenty of reasons for drivers on this road to keep their eyes locked on what's ahead.
RELATED: The 9 'most dangerous' drives in Colorado, according to a local
While this FindMyPlate.com list dubbed Highway 550 as 'second-deadliest' to only US Route 1 in Florida, it's worth noting that the 'deadly' nature of the Million Dollar Highway might be a bit overblown. After all, many will argue that other roads in Colorado account for more deaths or may be more difficult to navigate safely (Black Bear Pass).
That being said, there's no doubt that a trip down US 550 includes a lurking risk should a worst-case scenario occur.
According to a 2013 article from the Durango Herald, a total of 302 accidents took place on the notorious Red Mountain Pass stretch of this route between 1995 to 2010, only eight of which were fatal (killing nine people total).
While the hazards loom, the speed limit is low. Keep your eyes on the road and avoid traveling in hazardous conditions and you'll most likely be fine.
Find the full 'FindMyPlate.com' list of deadly roads here or click here to find our coverage of Colorado's '9 most dangerous drivers.'
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The Million Dollar Highway is certainly a beautiful drive and well worth the risk. Independence Pass is another; I'm guessing the Independence probably has more fatalities by quite a bit.
The term "Deadliest Roads" should be changed to "Scariest for Some People Roads". If Findbyplate would have included statistics like the number of deaths per mile or some such measurable criteria, I would be less critical. I've driven some of those roads and found nothing deadly about any of them while ones that actually do have a higher fatality rate were left off the list. Effective clickbait but, it has little value past a brief moment of free entertainment. Thanks for the chuckle, Spencer!
I've been on some extremely curvy roads with steep drop offs in the Appalachians, Sierra Nevada, PCH and the Rockies, and after having driven Hwy 550 between Durango and Ridgeway in both directions numerous times in the 2.5 years since I moved here, I can say that because of the higher snow depths in steep areas of the road that prohibit guardrails for the snow removal, it can certainly be one of the deadliest!
SPENCER: Not nearly as "deadly" as I-95, I 35, Texas rt 12, CA route 99; and even I 25 in Colorado, this is not even in the top 50 in the US.
The source Spencer linked doesn’t seem to have any consistent criteria. At least not any noted for each “contestant.”
The designation probably owes more to the appearance of danger rather than, say fatalities/100k miles driven, or another objective measure.
This particular outfit listed Interstate 4 (which I grew up near) 3rd after Hwy 550. I've also made numerous trips up and down I-95 and Hwy 99. While these interstates are alike with most of their deadly features being from massive amounts of high speed traffic, for the most part they're all straight and flat. I've also traveled the Appalachians, Sierra Nevada in addition to the Rockies. While I've been on some other extremely curvy mountain roads, I have to say that 550 is probably more dangerous because snow removal prohibits the guardrails that other mountain roads might have. You do have to be on your toes in certain sections! Again, this is just one of many lists by many different entities on the web and in print and they all have their various takes on it.
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