A 125 mile drive from South Fork on Highway 160 down Highway 149 ending at Blue Mesa Reservoir on Highway 50. The Silver Thread Scenic Byway offers not only scenic beauty and natural wonders, but also Colorado history through abandoned gold and silver mines and boomtowns. At the height of the mineral rush this road was a major thoroughfare for prospectors and entrepreneurs, boasting towns of thousands of people seeking their fortunes. Now only a shadow of its crowning glory, this stretch of highway attracts visitors with beauty, history, wildlife and alluring vistas.
As you travel along you’ll come to Wagon Wheel Gap a narrow passage along the Rio Grande River said to be a favorite place for Indians to ambush wagons filled with supplies for the mining camps. In this area also is the road to the Wheeler Geological Area, an unbelievable area of volcanic remains, very difficult to get to but well worth the trouble. Plan a full day for this adventure.
As you drive along toward Creede watch along the fence line for birdhouses usually occupied by the beautiful Rocky Mountain Bluebird, you are also on the Bluebird Trail. Creede is a quaint little mining town that was not so long ago a silver mining area producing vast amounts of that precious metal. Spend some time in Creede with its shops, mining museum and home of the famous Creede Repertoty Theatre.
Along the route you will usually encounter a herd or two of bighorn sheep, elk crossing the road, mule deer on the mountainside and moose in the distant willow breaks. Clear Creek Falls is a little known magnificent site that is visited by very few people. Watch carefully for the signs because in your wildest dreams you would never expect a beautiful waterfall in this area. Shortly after leaving the falls you will begin to climb toward Slumgullion Pass where the famous earthslide formed Lake San Cristobal, Colorado’s most beautiful and second largest natural lake. Always stop at the “Overlook” and take in the view of the lake and the surrounding mountains that were the sides of an ancient volcano.
Dropping down into Lake City is an experience that most people will never forget. This little town sits in the valley floor surrounded by thirteen and fourteen thousand foot mountain peaks. Lake City is a special place and time should be spent here. Be careful you may never leave, I can almost guarantee your heart will remain.
Leaving Lake City you will pass many beautiful ranches and mountain homes and come to Powderhorn, a ranching community that supplied the beef, hay and many vegetables for the mining towns in the area. Powderhorn is still a cattle producing area but fishing cabins and summer homes are more important now.
Seventeen miles down the road you will come to Blue Mesa Reservoir and Highway 50 and the end of The Silver Thread Byway, a drive worth taking.