Ouray to Telluride Drive Options

If you are visiting Ouray, chances are good you’ll want to visit Telluride as well. While the two cities are fairly close as the crow flies, there is a huge mountain in between the cities causing you to drive around, making the miles a bit longer. We stayed in Ouray and drove from Ouray to Telluride one morning using the easiest route. And it was well worth it!

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So here is how to make the Ouray to Telluride drive (or Telluride to Ouray) the easy way, as well as another option for those wanting scenery and adventure.

road point of view, green trees, blue cloudy skies, pin image of Ouray to Telluride

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road leading to mountain in distance

The Main Route from Ouray to Telluride

The main route from Ouray to Telluride is the easiest way to get from one city to another. Simply take highway 550 north until you hit Ridgway. Here you’ll turn left (west) on highway 62. Take that until Placerville and head south (left) on highway 145. This will lead you right into Telluride.

This route is very easy. It winds around, but felt safe as we drove without major drop offs. The road has been slightly widened recently as well.

We did see a bit of fallen rock off the mountain side along the road. We also saw a lot of wildlife. Those are the main hazards of this route.

Otherwise, the route is completely paved and easy to navigate from Ouray to Telluride.

As a Bonus: The stretch from Ridgway west is known as Dallas Divide. If you are visiting during the change of colors, Dallas Divide is an incredible place, filled with an artist’s pallet of leaves.

Where to Stop Along the Way

At only an hour, it’s really not necessary to stop on the way from Ouray to Telluride (or Telluride to Ouray). But if you wanted to get some supplies, you should stop in Ridgway.

You’ll drive right through Ridgway on the way. Ridgway is a larger town, so if you forgot anything for your trip or need additional supplies, this is your best bet.

If you have time to explore, Ridgway is beautiful. You can access Ridgway State Park which is popular for the lake area and gorgeous scenery.

River flowing alongside a road

Distance from Ouray to Telluride

As the crow flies, the two towns are just under 10 miles apart. So you’d think it would be a quick hop over from one town to the other.

But we can’t fly over a mountain and have to drive around it. The drive from Ouray to Telluride is actually just under 50 miles and take around an hour to complete.

lots of elk laying in a green field

What You’ll See from Ouray to Telluride

The drive from Ouray to Telluride using this route is very beautiful. You’ll pass by greenery, rivers, and red rock walls.

Keep an eye out for wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk. We unfortunately had a deer jump out in front of us unexpectedly. They really are everywhere.

Not much later, there was a herd of elk crossing the road in front of us (luckily we had more notice on that one.)

If you look around, you may see elk down in the river along the way or in the fields.

Wildlife is awesome. Trip Delays are not. Compare Trip Insurance Plans

old wood building with welcome sign to Telluride
infographic stats of Ouray to Telluride drive

Is There a Gondola from Ouray to Telluride?

That would be awesome and my husband and I commented many times how convenient that would be.

But unfortunately, no. There is no Ouray to Telluride gondola, as cool as that would be.

jeeps on a barren mountain road

Photo by Brady Stoeltzing on Unsplash

Alternate route: Ouray Jeep Trail- Imogene Pass

If you are visiting from out of town and have the family mini van (or other typical car), using the standard route is 100% what you should do (and really your only option.)

Now, if you are traveling during summer months and don’t have kids with you AND really want some adventure and killer scenery, then you can take option #2 and take the Ouray to Telluride Pass, known as Imogene Pass.

In town you can rent a Jeep or ATV that is meant for off roading. Once you do this, you can access Imogene Pass which goes over the mountain to Telluride.

Imogene Pass reaches an elevation of just over 13,000 feet and the trail can be technical at times. It is narrow, steep, and rocky in areas. It should be driven slowly and with care.

If this is the route you’d like to take from Ouray to Telluride, check out Altitude Adventures in Ouray and their rental options. If you’d like a Jeep, talk to Switzerland of America Jeep rentals.

If you decide to venture out onto Imogene Pass, plan for a few hours each way.

Do not attempt Imogene Pass in a low-clearance vehicle or 2WD.

Ouray to Telluride FAQ

Is the Drive from Ouray to Telluride Difficult?

No, the drive from Ouray to Telluride is not difficult. You are on paved roads the whole time on the main route and it is easy to navigate.

Is There a Gondola Ride from Ouray to Telluride?

That would be awesome, but no. There is no gondola from Ouray to Telluride. For now, we’ll all have to make the drive.

What Pass is Between Ouray and Telluride?

Imogene Pass connects Ouray and Telluride. If you have a 4×4 with high clearance or an ATV, you can drive Imogene Pass (carefully) from one side to the other.

Is Ouray Close to Telluride?

Looking at a map, yes, the two towns are very close. However, a mountain sits between them, so the distance to drive from one to the other around the mountain is about 50 miles.

Check Out the Top Hot Springs in Ouray

Ouray to Telluride Drive

The drive from Ouray to Telluride is pretty simple and easy. The roads are paved, though a bit windy at times. The drive is really beautiful from one town to the other. Just watch for wildlife. And if you need any supplies, stop in Ridgway.

Enjoy your drive from Ouray to Telluride. Both towns are gorgeous and worth seeing!

Check out Top Things to do in Ouray with Kids!

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