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Silverthread Scenic & Historic Byway

Are you headed south towards New Mexico? Are you ready to drive on the most scenic route? Cut across Highway 50 and Highway 149 begins just a few miles outside of Gunnison on the eastern end of Colorado’s largest body of water, Blue Mesa Reservoir. Highway 149, the Silverthread Scenic and Historic Byway, wanders through the San Juan Mountain range and the Rio Grande National Forest. Follow the highway southward through high mountain desert, past new and old ranch homes and over the top of mountains allowing breathtaking views of a 360 degree landscape. Deer, elk, moose, eagle, hawk, coyote and many other animals can be found all along the route.

While touring the town of Lake City visiting the many restaurants and unique shops consider spending some time to take a hike on a forest trail or drive your ATV on another. No matter when you decide to visit make sure to drive around the lake! Every year we have many people that come though our office and we ask, “did you drive around the lake?” “Lake?” they say, “where’s the lake?” Amazing! It is called Lake City. The “Lake” entrance is about 2 miles south of Lake City, it is call Lake San Cristobal and is the largest natural made lake in Colorado. The setting for this lake couldn’t be more beautiful. Once you get to the lake you have your choice to go left or right, either way is brings you all the way around. You will think there is no prettier view until you get to the other side and look again. One of the local favorites for hiking trails is the Alpine Gulch Trail; a moderate to strenuous trail that offers many scenic views, steep cliffs and beautiful meadows. ATVing is a popular pastime in the area with the access to the treasured Alpine Loop as well. There are many other trails to choose from but for a half day adventure, Wager Gulch should be on your agenda. According to, Wager Gulch runs up to the Continental Divide passing the well preserved ghost town of New Carson. On the other side of the divide is the ghost town of Old Carson. A better time to travel this route would be August to September, which would also allow for the vibrant colors of fall to be appreciated. While Lake City has much more to offer, we must move on to continue the exploration and enjoyment of the Silverthread.

All along the highway there are numerous stops to read up on history, take in a view and some things you would never expect like the waterfalls. Directly between Lake City and Creede is the most photographed waterfall in Colorado, but you must look for the sign. Although North Clear Creek Falls is located less than a mile from the road you would not know it. Once you turn on the road and head in its direction, you will hear it before you have a view. It is worth the stop, very breathtaking. There are a few other falls in the immediate area that require a hike but due to their locations can be very much worth the detour. Other detours along the way include the 15 mile drive to the Rio Grande Reservoir which sits at 9, 449 feet in elevation. Unique businesses along the way include The Studios at Bristol, which houses a few artists’ wares such as the home-spun fibers along with the creations of fiber artist, Terri Inman and the art, photos and designs of Underbrush Ltd. Stop in for a unique visit! Along the drive you may also look to the West to see large hillsides with bare trees. One of Colorado’s largest wildfires blazed through the area in 2013. With hundreds of firefighters from across the states involved, not one structure was taken and not one person was hurt beyond minor smoke inhalation.

As you wind along the highway south following the Rio Grande, homes and businesses become much more frequent as you arrive closer to Creede. The highway enters Creede from its southern end then exits soon thereafter. Quite a few people tend to miss the town itself. If you take the very short drive towards the business district you will find the quaint little town we call home. Once you park your vehicle and begin to wander, you may discover how easily the town is walked, shopped and enjoyed. Near the southern end of town just off of 7th Street is a hiking trail that climbs 3.5 miles to Inspiration Point. The trail is steep and challenging on the way up and steep and more challenging on the way down but the views from the top are unparalleled. Among many other attractions to Creede is the Mining Museum, and the Bachelor Loop Tour. The Loop drives up and around the historic mining district of the area and is accessible with foot, bike, ATV and most two wheel drive vehicles. More can be learned about the Loop by purchasing a Bachelor Loop Guide at the Chamber of Commerce for a minimal price of three dollars.

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silver thread booklet


Pick up a copy of the
Guide Book
at the Visitor Center


After you have fallen in love with our little town you can continue your trip southeast towards South Fork. The Silverthread Byway winds its way down a canyon road with guest ranches, to greet you along the way. Many little side trips can be afforded with drives up Pool Table Road and across the river to Coller State Wildlife Area. The Coller SWA encompasses 918 acres and is home to Deer, Elk, Rabbit, Squirrel, Dusky (blue) grouse. This is a beautiful and serene location for your lunch or dinner picnic, right alongside the Rio Grande. 

South Fork is Colorado newest town, reaching statutory town status in 1992! It has served as a central location for logging companies for many years with thriving restaurants, banks and two large lumber companies. Quite a few years back, those companies closed and left South Fork struggling to find its character. This led South Fork to reach for its assets; mountain living and tourism. The town plays host to a beautiful 18 hole golf course, the Rio Grande Golf Club, and a few unique guest ranches, shops and eateries. Outdoor activities abound with the south fork of the Rio Grande and the Rio Grande converging just outside of town and mountains all around. The Wolf Creek Ski Area is just over the hill and provides a great winter tourism draw from across the nation.

The Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway climbs from 7500 feet in elevation to over 11,500 and descends again to 8200 in South Fork. The highway offers scenic views, historic towns with an array of museums, significant tours and animal viewing galore. The area will draw you back time and time again with a new road to drive, a lakeside to explore and meandering trails to visit. Take the time to drive through this little piece of Colorado history.

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Silver Thread Byway Website

Scenic Drives & Byways

Bachelor Historic Tour

This 17-mile driving tour loops through Creede’s historic silver mining district and ghost towns.adjusted loop map 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 $2.00. 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.

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:

Creede & Mineral County Chamber of Commerce

904 S. Main St.  •  PO Box 580  •  Creede, CO 81130


Any donations to the Creede & Mineral County Chamber of Commerce are appreciated. As a non-profit organization, we thrive on the kindness and charity of our visitors. Thank you!

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