This post is sponsored by Toyota, but all thoughts and opinions are my own
A three-day trip through the beautiful San Juan Mountains during the peak fall colors? YES PLEASE! When I was asked to test-drive some Toyota vehicles on the Million Dollar Highway I knew this was a trip I couldn’t pass up. Clay couldn’t take off work for the trip so my dear friend Ashley hopped a flight from NYC and joined me instead.
Our itinerary took us from Denver to Durango, Durango to Silverton, and Silverton to Telluride. The scenery was so beautiful with snow cap mountains and golden aspen trees everywhere you look.
I have been driving SUVs my entire life so I am not used to sitting low in sedans but the ride was so smooth and comfortable. For a six-hour drive that turned into eight, this was the perfect road trip car. I also got to test drive the Tacoma and Tundra, but more on them later!
One feature I really loved about the Avalon was the cruise control. Once you set your cruise control speed the Avalon practically drove itself! When the Avalon sensed another car in front of us, it magically slowed down and kept us a safe distance apart. As we drove through a small town and the speed limit dropped from 65 mph to 45 mph so did our cruise control as it followed the car in front of us. On our way out-of-town and the car in front of us sped up and so did the Avalon. Pretty crazy right!!
The second feature I loved, which was in all the Toyota’s we drove, was the gear shifting. When driving on crazy mountain roads like the Million Dollar Highway you have to know when and how to switch gears. The center console gear is super easy to use. Just pop it into S Mode, for manual shift, and then it’s just a slight bump up or down to go between gears.
At some points on the drive, I had us all the way into second, especially when we had to slow for some construction work on a big corner, on a cliff, in the rain!
The Road Trip
When we arrived in Durango we met the other bloggers and influencers joining us on the trip, at Four Leaves Winery. We got to taste a few of their specialty fruit wines and learned to bottle our own wine too! For dinner, we headed to the at The Derailed Pourhouse. This was definitely the place to be in town for Thursday Night football.
Friday morning we were up early for a group breakfast at Jean Pierre, a quaint French Bakery right on main street. Durango has that quintessential mountain town feel, I can’t wait to go back and explore more of this cute town.
Before heading out, we all put our keys into a pile and picked new cars to drive for the day. I was stoked to pull the Toyota Tundra. A few of my friends drive these big trucks and love them, so this vehicle was on the top of my list to test drive. After a full day in the Avalon, I was ready to try out a more powerful vehicle on these windy Colorado roads, and the Tundra did not disappoint.
Silverton is a sleepy mining town that’s population fluctuations from a couple thousand in the Summer to only a few hundred in the Winter. Our activity for the day was a mine tour at The Old Hundred Gold Mine. When we arrived it was pouring rain, however, when we emerged thirty minutes later it was beautiful and sunny! Colorado weather is crazy like that.
After a quick-lunch in Silverton, we swapped cars again. This time we pulled the Toyota Tacoma TDR Pro. Smaller and more compact than the Tundra this truck was a little zipper but not quite as plush and comfortable.
U.S. Route 550 from Durango to Ouray takes you over numerous mountain passes including Red Mountain Pass. The stretch from Silverton to Ouray is dubbed the Million Dollar Highway, and features lots of steep, stomach flipping turns with little to no guard rails. Seriously, there are like no guard rails on this road! Since we were traveling northbound we got to hug the corners rather drive the outside lane. Now you can understand why I really loved the ease of downshifting in the Toyotas. The drive is absolutely stunning. You seriously want to pull over on every turn to snap pictures.
From Ouray, we headed straight into Telluride. Telluride is always a magical mountain town, but and in the Fall it was drop-dead gorgeous. We checked into The Peaks Resort & Spa in Mountain Village and headed up the gondola for a great group dinner at Allred’s. Allred’s is located at the top of the mountain with spectacular views of Telluride. Even if you don’t go for a meal I suggest sitting at the bar and taking in the views.
Saturday morning we were up early to get breakfast in Telluride before heading back to Denver. It was a long drive back but again so damn pretty. The 6-hour drive is so much more breakable when everywhere you look are gorgeous aspen trees!
We had such an amazing trip thanks to Toyota. It was so fun to meet other Colorado (and Phoenix) bloggers and test-drive these cars. I only wish we had had more time to drive them all! For more details on the cars and our trip check out the video below!