We started this morning wandering around Glenwood Springs, Colorado, trying to find CO 82 East. We'd see a sign, get turned around, take a wrong turn on the extremely confusing roundabout, and finally stopped and asked directions. It was worth it, because CO 82 East heads directly toward 12,965' Mt. Sopris in the Elk Mountain Range of the Rockies just outside Glenwood Springs.
The day just kept getting better as we turned south on CO 133, riding along the fast-moving White River on the West Elk Scenic Byway
The road climbs up 8% grades to McClure Pass, winding to the 8755' summit then twisting down the other side.
Like many of the mountain passes in Colorado, the Ute Native Americans were the first to traverse this area, followed by the Spanish in the late 1700's. It's difficult to comprehend how miners and ranchers drove their wagons up the steep grades when this was a rutted dirt road.
CO 133 winds through Paonia, named for numerous peonies in the area (evidently the early settlers didn't know how to spell), and now home to farms, orchards, and wineries.
Staying on the Elk Loop Scenic Byway, we picked up CO 92 East, continuing through green ranches until the road started climbing, twisting, and turning in the Curecanti National Recreation Area.
Steep cliffs drop down to the Gunnison River and reservoirs formed by three different dams and hairpin turns lined with wildflowers and aspens snake through the mountains.
We turned east on US 50, passing by the Blue Mesa Reservoir, then turned south on Colorado 149.
CO 149 from Blue Mesa Reservoir to South Fork through the San Juan Mountains was named the Silver Thread Scenic Byway in 1990.
We stopped in Lake City, incorporated as a silver mining town in 1875, for lunch at the Lake City Cafe, a superb restaurant in a gorgeous setting. Although home to only about 450 residents, it's a busy tourist center with over 400 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.