"Red Mountain Cascade"

Red Mountain Pass / Million Dollar Highway, Colorado, USA

About “Red Mountain Cascade”

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2020-07-24
Date last visited: 2020-07-24

Waterfall Latitude: 37.90864
Waterfall Longitude: -107.70545

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

The “Red Mountain Cascade” was kind of an accidental find for us after being compelled to stop and photograph the attractively bare-yet-colorful Red Mountain while driving the Million Dollar Highway (Hwy 550) between Ouray and Silverton.

Most people just drive past the roadside pullout that we managed to stop at, which allowed us to find this rather obscure waterfall.

Red_Mountain_006_07242020 - Context of the 'Red Mountain Cascade' with the bare Red Mountain itself in the background
Context of the ‘Red Mountain Cascade’ with the bare Red Mountain itself in the background

The more sanctioned lookout for Red Mountain, which was further north along the Hwy 550, didn’t even allow us a view of this cascade.

This further added to its obscurity, while I put the quotes around the name “Red Mountain Cascade” since it was an unofficial name I just came up with.

Anyways, this was more or less my waterfallers excuse to include the Red Mountain with the cascade, which you can see in the photograph above.

The Red Mountain itself was actually the site of one of the richest mining extractions during its 20-year heyday in the latter part of the 19th century.

Red_Mountain_012_07242020 - Relics still remain from the heyday of the boom and bust cycle of the mining operations that took place at Red Mountain
Relics still remain from the heyday of the boom and bust cycle of the mining operations that took place at Red Mountain

Much of the red and orange stains in the area were apparently the result of contamination from metals contained in the waste rock that drained from tailing pipes as part of the mining operation.

Restoration work reclaimed and funded in part by the Idarado Mining Company sought to improve the water quality of the Uncompahgre River drainage, which this area was a part of.


“Red Mountain Cascade” resides in the San Juan National Forest near the town of Silverton in San Juan County, Colorado. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Red_Mountain_001_07242020 - Looking down towards the 'Red Mountain Cascade' from along the Hwy 550 between the Idarado Mine Interpretive Lookout and the Red Mountain Pass
Red_Mountain_003_07242020 - Looking towards the attractive panorama involving the strangely colorful yet bare Red Mountain
Red_Mountain_008_07242020 - Another look at the context of Red Mountain with what appeared to be not much left of the six boom towns that sprouted up here during this area's mining heyday
Red_Mountain_010_07242020 - Another look at the context of the Million Dollar Highway with parts of the Red Mountain

The pullout where we stopped to view the “Red Mountain Cascade” was about 0.8-mile south of the Idarado Mine Lookout turnoff along the Million Dollar Highway (Hwy 550) on the left.

It was about 0.9-mile north of the Red Mountain Pass along the same highway on the right.

For further context, this pullout was about 11 miles north of Silverton and 12 miles south of Ouray.

In either direction, these distances took us on the order of about a half-hour.

For context, Silverton was about 23 miles (about 45 minutes drive) south of Ouray, about 48 miles (over an hour drive) north of Durango, 73 miles (under 2 hours drive) south of Telluride, 120 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) southeast of Grand Junction, 324 miles (over 6 hours drive) southwest of Denver, 173 miles (over 3.5 hours drive) east of Moab, Utah, and 263 miles (over 4.5 hours drive) north of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Broad sweep starting with a focused panning of a cascade then zooming back out and panning across the Red Mountain as seen from a roadside pullout

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Tagged with: silverton, colorado, million dollar highway, red mountain pass, rocky mountains, idarado

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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