Bachelor Historic Tour
This 17-mile driving tour loops through Creede’s historic silver mining district and ghost towns. The tour’s first interpretive stop is just north of Creede in Willow Creek Canyon at the juncture of East and West Willow creeks. A passenger car can traverse the graded gravel road to the Equity Mine and then return to Creede via Bachelor Road (FS Road 504) and the old town site of Bachelor.
Guidebooks, keyed to numbered markers along the loop, are available at the Chamber of Commerce office, the Visitor Information Center, and various businesses. The 25-page guidebook with map costs $1.00. The loop road has some narrow stretches and steep grades that require caution. Check on road conditions during inclement weather. Several 4-wheel-drive roads lead off the tour route into less accessible terrain. Allow a minimum of 1 hour for the tour.
Silver Thread Scenic Byway
The Silver Thread Scenic Byway links Creede, Lake City, and South Fork via Hwy 149. This road has been designated as a U.S. Forest Service National Scenic Byway as well as a Colorado State Scenic and Historic Byway. The Silver Thread name alludes not only to the rich veins of silver ore that lured miners and settlers, but also to the route as it weaves along spectacular river canyons and climbs over the Continental Divide via Spring Creek Pass.
Once a toll road and the Barlow and Sanderson stage route, this 75-mile journey immerses travelers into the grand beauty of the San Juan Mountains as the paved, year-round highway courses through both the Rio Grande and Gunnison National Forests. Breathtaking overlooks offer insight into geology and local history while providing ample opportunity to enjoy spectacular views.
In 1990, a portion of Highway 149 was given the distinction of becoming a National Forest Service and Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway. This historic route carries you on a 75 mile journey between the towns of South Fork and Lake City, including the historic town of Creede.
As you travel through the Silver Thread rich history, you will drive through the Gunnison and the Rio Grande National Forests and you can see parts of the La Garita, Weminuche and Powderhorn Wilderness Areas. You will also cross through Rio Grande, Mineral and Hinsdale counties.
Traveling the byway, you will discover that there are very few towns along the way. Ninety-six percent of Mineral and Hinsdale counties consist of lands that are federally owned. The colorful old mining camps of the Silver Thread offer history, scenic beauty, and a heavy dose of authenticity. The heights around Creede and Lake City remain strewn with abandoned mining structures, most of them accessible via rugged back country roads. On average it takes at least 2 hours to reach Lake City from South Fork.
For more information, and a detailed guidebook, please contact any of the three towns that the byway includes. The guidebooks cost $2.00, and have historical, scenic and wildlife information for the traveler of this amazing byway.
Wheeler Geologic Area
True to its name, Mineral County is a significant study area for ancient geologic activity. The formation of the La Garita and San Juan mountains began about 30 million years ago. Eruptions from massive volcanoes, like the Creede Caldera, were followed by tremendous flows of ash and mud. As the layers of volcanic debris cooled, crystals and mineral ores collected into veins and pockets to create extensive mineral fields. This era of mountain building laid down the volcanic tuff that has become the Wheeler Geologic Area. Water erosion then carved a starkly impressive landscape of fragile capstones, needles, and spires.
Named for the 19th century surveyor of the West, Captain George M. Wheeler, this unique area became a National Monument in 1908. Wheeler’s status later changed to “Geologic Area.” The Creede office of the U.S. Forest Service (719-658-2556) administers this remote landmark. Each August Volksmarch schedules an overnight hike into this unique natural wonder.
During periods of heavy runoff, Mineral County’s mountains boast numerous short-lived, unnamed cascades. Mineral County also offers some of the most beautiful and photographed waterfalls in Colorado.
North Clear Creek Falls - most photographed waterfall in Colorado! North Clear Creek Falls, just off SH 149 near the summit of Spring Creek Pass, proclaims the honor as the most photographed waterfall in Colorado. A scenic overlook/rest area is easily accessible from the highway. In good weather, the old road (FS Road 510) makes for an interesting detour through the initial moose relocation site.
South Clear Creek Falls also provide an interesting side trip off the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.
Copper Falls—Take the Middle Creek Road off SH 149 to visit Copper Falls.
Phoenix Park Waterfalls, above Phoenix Park is considered one of the most beautiful in the Creede area.
Treasure Falls on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass provides travelers with a convenient rest area at the trailhead to the falls.
For more regional scenic drives visit: www.ColoradoByways.org