San Juan Scenic Skyway – Part 3

Durango – Telluride

Mancos25-Mancos Valley Stage Line

Heading west from Durango the Skyway follows US160 across high desert plains with the La Plata Mountains marching northward. A stop in Mancos for a ride on the Mancos Valley Stage Line harkens back to travel in the 1800s. Riding shotgun atop the horse-drawn stagecoach provides thrills but we’re happy to continue our trip in air-conditioned SUV comfort.

02 - Mesa Verde Sign Ten miles east of Cortez the road to Mesa Verde National Park turns south.

[Click here for a post on Mesa Verde National Park]

Cortez Indian Dancer Cortez

Cortez serves as a gateway to additional Native American and Ancient Puebloan cultural sites. Visits to the Cortez Cultural Center, a day-long tour at Ute Mountain Tribal Park, Notah Dineh Trading Company & Museum, Hovenweep National Monument, and the Anasazi Heritage Center keeps us busy for several days.

North to Telluride26-Lizard Head Pass

From Cortez the Skyway heads north, northeast on CO145. Soon we’re following the Dolores River back into the San Juan National Forest along the most remote section of the route. The unique spire of Lizard Head Peak appears to balance afternoon storm clouds as we cross Lizard Head Pass before descending into the narrow valley that is home to Telluride.

  • This post is a portion of an article by Nancy Yackel first published in Buzz in the ‘burbs, a suburban Denver monthly.

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