Home > Traveling > Silver Thread Scenic Byway, Colorado

Silver Thread Scenic Byway, Colorado

Colorado Highway 149 is known as the Silver Thread Scenic Byway because it originally connected many of the silver mines in south central Colorado.  We drove it from our campsite near Creede to Lake City, about 52 miles and over two high passes.

We found three waterfalls along the road:  an unnamed one at Porcupine Gulch, the South Clear Creek waterfall, and the North Clear Creek waterfall.  The latter is the most photographed waterfall in Colorado.

Heading further west, we crested Spring Creek Pass with an elevation of 10,800 feet, plus it is also the Continental Divide.  A little farther yet is SlumGullion Pass, with a summit at 11,530ft.  It’s beautiful here, although an outbreak of mountain pine beetles has killed many of the lodgepole trees.

Just before Lake City is Lake San Cristobal, whose beauty has an unusual twist. Only 800 years old, this lake was formed when the Slumgullion Earth Flow naturally dammed the valley.  Moving at the speed of molasses, the earth flow is the result of unstable soils that shift up to 20 feet a year. We saw full-grown pine trees at off-angles — evidence that this lumbering slide is still at work.

Finally we reached Lake City, one of the largest collections of preserved buildings from the 1870s. Stroll through the heart of town and you’ll quickly get a sense for Lake City’s authenticity.

On the way back we saw a moose with calf right alongside the road.  Also, some marmots and a deer to help remind us we are in the wild.



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