Length: 117 Miles Driv­ing time: 3 Hours

West of 105 Magazine - - Outdoors -

The col­or­ful old min­ing camps of the Sil­ver Thread Scenic By­way of­fer a fan­tas­tic com­bi­na­tion of his­tory, scenic beauty, and au­then­tic­ity. The rugged moun­tains around Creede and Lake City are strewn with aban­doned mines, most of which are ac­ces­si­ble thanks to a net­work of back­coun­try roads even if they are a bit rugged. The road be­tween the two fol­lows the Rio Grande River, at least partly, and of­fers some truly spec­tac­u­lar scenery in­clud­ing North Clear Creek Falls, the shark-like fin of Un­com­pah­gre Peak, and the unique Slumgul­lion Earth­flow Na­tional Nat­u­ral Land­mark. Formed about 700 years ago thanks to a mam­moth rock slide, the huge mass blocked the Lake Fork of the Gun­ni­son River and cre­ated Lake San Cris­to­bal. In­cred­i­bly, a sec­ond earth­flow be­gan about 300 years ago and is still ac­tive to­day. Look for trees grow­ing at odd an­gles.

These moun­tains are also the site of one of Colorado's gris­li­est tales, that of Alferd Packer who can­ni­bal­ized his com­pan­ions dur­ing an ill-fated win­ter ex­pe­di­tion.

The by­way was re­cently ex­tended on the north end from Lake City to Blue Mesa Reser­voir which means you can con­nect with the West Elk Loop Scenic By­way.

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