Silver Thread Scenic Byway

This route follows the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River north from Lake City for 10 or 12 miles before splitting at Gateview, with the Lake Fork heading north and the highway heading east toward the Powderhorn Basin. Driving through this area you'll see lots of evidence of the volcanic origins of the San Juan Mountains, especially along the Lake Fork streambed. There's some huge granite/lava palisades and lots of large formations that are basically eroded volcanic ash and brecchia. Climbing on the solid granite is one thing, climbing on the "rotten rock" of the ash and brecchia is quite another. But it does make for some different formations.

Above Gateview (the turnoff toward Sapinero, Road 25: dirt road going to Blue Mesa Lake just west of Sapinero), the highway climbs up through Dutch Gulch, crosses the ridge and drops down into the Cebolla Creek drainage, then passes through the Powderhorn area before rising to cross another ridge and begin the long descent to Blue Mesa Reservoir and the terminal junction with US Highway 50, west of Gunnison.

I've driven this road several times and always see something I missed before. As you look through the photos below you'll see that I do actually stop and look around on a regular basis. But next time I go through the area I want to make the turn and get into the Powderhorn Wilderness area.