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Thread: The Silver Thread and San Juan Skyway Scenic Byways

  1. #1
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    The Silver Thread and San Juan Skyway Scenic Byways

    Returned yesterday. One of those simple overnighter rides simply delivering a fantastic time. Minimal words, letting pics and captions tell the tale, including a few images found after the ride, of how it looked over 100 years ago.

    The Silver Thread Scenic Byway is on my very short list of favorite 100+ mile roads, anywhere. From Blue Mesa on Hwy 50 to South Fork on Hwy 160, 120 miles of curves, passes, rivers, scenery, loneliness, wilderness, and two cool towns.

    Here's the location of the Silver Thread Scenic Byway, ridden from north to south...


    So we have a pause at Blue Mesa, the largest body of water in Colorado, formed by a dam on the Gunnison River. I'm at the eastern side of the reservoir here. It extends for another 17 miles to the west though not visible here...


    Just after Lake City there is the ascent of Slumgullion Pass. Whenever you see a swath of Aspen trees like in the background here there's a good chance a forest fire cut a swath through the same place years prior...


    Pulling over at a lookout to the west from near the top of Slumgullion. The jagged 14,000ft. sentinels of Wetterhorn on the left and Uncompaghre on the right stand guard over a largely unspoiled wilderness. This Hinsdale County has a population of only 820 residents with the majority in Lake City down below...


    OK, zooming in on the peaks...


    I know you've done this... having so much fun on a swooping road you don't even pause for a pic. So Spring Creek Pass is passed. I see the headwaters of the Rio Grande river, but I do pause at the town of Creede. This is the "Silver Thread" Scenic Byway for the history of silver mining along the way. Lake City and Creede boasted much larger (mining supported) populations 100 years ago. Here's Creede in 1892...


    Here's Creede today...


    The destination is Durango for the evening, and this means the tedious chore of ascending/descending Wolf Creek Pass . From the top looking east...


    And on the western descent. The RT is in its element on this ride...
    Last edited by sfarson; 09-10-2007 at 03:20 AM.

  2. #2
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    Durango is on the southern end of one of the premier rides in the U.S... the Million Dollar Highway, or San Juan Skyway. Going to ride the jaw dropping 70 mile section from Durango to Ouray. I rise early, turn on the heated seat in the chill (Ahhhhhh), and have a ride to remember. Here's the location...


    Just south of Silverton, facing towards the rising sun at Molas Pass...


    Moving the bike a few feet with the sun at the back...


    Can see from the pic above we have a descent before us, a descent to the historic town of Silverton. This can be one lonely cold place in the winter. It isn't uncommon for the town to be cutoff from supplies as avalanches crash down onto the highway south and north. Indeed, there's a memorial to Dept of Transportation snowplow drivers having given their lives while maintaining this Skyway in the winter...


    Here's the start of the famed Red Mountain Pass. We head towards the distance. Can tell from the soil here there are reasons miners decided to stake claims and put down roots in Silverton...


    We're near the top of Red Mountain Pass. There is a waterfall deep in the rock crack descending from the saddle. These roads are custom built for the RT...


    On the descent towards Ouray I see early signs of autumn...


    The road continues to deliver RT delights...


    I found this image on the web of a snow shed one goes under on the descent to Ouray...


    Here's how one would get through the same spot 100 years ago...


    This is one tricky road for both four legged and two wheeled transportation devices. Trust the horses and don't get distracted. Back then...


    And now...


    Above Ouray at the turn of the 20th century...


    And above Ouray at the turn of the 21st century...


    The RT loved this ride and wanted more. Here's to good riding!
    Last edited by sfarson; 09-10-2007 at 03:26 AM.

  3. #3
    ian408
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    Brings back memories of my trip down 550 only I had rain for my journey

    One thing I've enjoyed about your many ride reports are the historical comparisons.
    Like the shots of the highway and of Ouray. Gives you a sense of what it took to build
    and what life might have been back then.

  4. #4
    Luckiest Man Alive Timba's Avatar
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    Thanks for the "then and now" photos! (and the idea for future routes!)

    Nice report!
    Timba
    "You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it."
    ~ Charles Buxton
    TnA's travels

  5. #5
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    silver thread

    Thanks Steve. Excellent, as always.

    Met your fellow Coloradian, Desert Rat, and a buddy, at Anderwerks on Saturday. They're on their way home.

    Rinty

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian408 View Post
    Brings back memories of my trip down 550 only I had rain for my journey

    One thing I've enjoyed about your many ride reports are the historical comparisons.
    Like the shots of the highway and of Ouray. Gives you a sense of what it took to build
    and what life might have been back then.

    Thanks everyone, and Ian... I can relate! Two years ago I rode this in a cold rain and on the descent to Ouray took a tight hairpin quickly with the rear tire skipping out then gaining traction again.

    Those then/now images have me examining the change and lack of change. Can really cause one to pause and consider.

  7. #7
    Wheatman WHEATMAN's Avatar
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    Hip Hip Ouray!

    The Million Dollar Highway is one of my favorites. Your pictures are great........especially the historic ones.
    2009 BMW R12000RT

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