Scenic USA - Colorado

Dallas Divide

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Dallas Divide - Ridgway, Colorado

Photo by Andy Cook
Andy Cook Photography

   Colorado's Rocky Mountains posed a formidable obstacle for early explorers and pioneers, having to rely on guides and rugged trails. Today, Colorado boasts the most sophisticated highway system in the nation. Throughout the mountain region, a long list mountain passes indicate 39 are paved and vary in heights from 8200 to the extreme 14,264 feet. Mt Evans Road, Autumn Color - Dallas Divide, Colorado a record holder, is not only the highest mountain pass in North America, its also the steepest, with some grades at 15 percent.
   Pictured here is a delightful mountain view along Dallas Divide on Colorado Route 62 just west of the town of Ridgway. No record altitudes here, but thanks to large stands of aspens, the majestic Uncompahgre Plateau and the San Juan Mountains, this is one of the prettiest drives in the area. The first road over this mountain saddle dates back to 1880, linking the towns of Dallas with Telluride. The Rio Grande Southern Railroad followed a similar route just 10 years later.
   There is no official roadside plaque, but the top of the pass is located nearby the Ouray-San Miguel county line. Driving the Divide today is a gradual climb, but steam trains of old struggled with the four percent grade, having to add extra engines to make the run. The Dallas Divide was just a flag stop for the Rio Grande Southern, with the station named for its dispatcher F.W. Peake. Stock pen fences still mark the railroad right of way, adding a linear element to this wonderful scenic view.

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