July 2023 – The Silver Thread Scenic Byway in Colorado meanders between mountains, over rolling hills and past scenic lakes for 120 miles on Colorado State Route 149 between the Blue Mesa Reservoir and the town of South Fork.
This is a very remote area that is wide open country for much of the way, punctuated by two picturesque villages, Lake City and Creede.
We found a place to RV camp in the hinterlands, and along with utter peace and quiet during our stay, we were blessed with two extraordinary sunset light shows that produced fire in the sky!
Many years ago, we rode this route on our bicycles as part of the Bike Tour of Colorado. Our most vivid memory from that ride is Slumgullion Pass, a beast of a mountain climb that peaks at an elevation of 11,530’. This lofty summit is preceded by umpteen tight turning switchbacks on the ascent and is followed by a screaming descent down umpteen more fast switchbacks on the other side!
On our RV trip along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway in Colorado this year, we did lots of sightseeing but no pedaling. After soaking in the views for a while, we stopped at the beautiful Weminuche Wilderness Vista Overlook. What an exquisite panorama of Brown Lakes and the mountains beyond!
Another highlight on the Silver Thread Scenic Byway was a stop at North Clear Creek Falls which is considered Colorado’s most photographed waterfall.
It was easy to see why this cascade is so well loved. Not only is it a gorgeous waterfall, but after winding through endless meadows and forests, it was a wonderful change of scenery to see water crashing down the side of a cliff.
Mountain weather is always unpredictable, and so it was during our stay. The wind howled so fiercely in the afternoons that, at times, we thought we were going to get blown right off the hillsides!
At dusk, however, the wind completely stopped. On one afternoon, we noticed storm clouds beginning to form on the horizon. We ran out of the RV to see what was going on!
The sky began to show hints of yellow and orange as the heavy storm clouds gradually filled the sky. We weren’t sure if we were going to get drenched, but we didn’t want to miss a moment of this incredible heavenly spectacle that was unfolding before us.
Some crazy patterns formed as the mist and clouds rolled across the sky.
In another direction, the whole underbelly of a mammoth cloud turned orange.
We turned to head back towards the RV, and our trailer looked like it was facing a raging fire in the sky!
The storm clouds soon darkened the landscape around us. Only the fiery embers of the sunset still burned above us.
Finally, darkness fell and we made our way back into the cozy confines of our RV.
But sleep was elusive. We couldn’t stop talking excitedly about the unbelievable sunset light show we’d just seen. It had come upon us just as quickly as it had left, and there had been no hint ahead of time that anything unusual was about to begin. The sky had been clear blue until the first cloud showed up!
A few nights later, we were treated to more drama in the sky. Again, late in the afternoon, the howling wind that had buffeted us for hours on end came to a sudden stop, and the clear blue sky gave way to a big puffy cloud with a dark underbelly growing above us.
We noticed a lone car camper on a distant hillside that had just arrived for the night. The camper looked really tiny under that big menacing cloud as he got his camping gear out of his trunk!
Then the cloud began to swirl and roil within itself, showing off peachy yellow highlights that flamed between dark edges.
As all this happened in the heavens, Buddy’s attention was on the local chipmunk population which skittered about from burrow to burrow.
A few minutes later, that massive cloud began to fade, break apart and float away. We wandered down a trail, keeping our eyes on the sky. Suddenly, the clouds began to organize into stripes with pink highlights.
Meanwhile, a pink glow began to radiate in another part of the sky.
By chance, I turned my head towards a very dark part of the sky and noticed a bright orange spot in the distance. WTH?
Then, from our many nights of sailing on blackened seas under inky skies, we suddenly realized it was a bright orange full moon rising behind the mountains!
How awesome is that?!
Panning back to take in the whole view, we watched the pink glow of sunset arch over the landscape as the moon rose steadily and silently.
We were both breathless from witnessing this glorious sunset light show. What a blessing to stand here on this mountain and see this miraculous display of color and drama!
The moon disappeared for a while behind the clouds, but then it reappeared above them, soaring peacefully across a fluffy bed of vivid orange.
As we put away our gear and turned to go back to the RV, we noticed a quietly cheering crowd on the far hillside — a row of trees had deemed the whole show a worthy of a standing ovation.
What beauty! What a sunset light show! What a glorious moment on the Silver Thread Scenic Byway in Colorado!!
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More info about the Silver Thread Scenic Byway in Colorado:
- Map of the Silver Thread Scenic Byway – Google Maps
- Map of the highlights on the Silver Thread Scenic Byway – A cartoon map but still helpful!
- North Clear Creek Falls Overlook – Rio Grande National Forest official website
- Weminuche Wilderness – San Juan National Forest official website
Other places where we saw wild skies!
- Cedar Breaks National Monument – Wild Skies & Summer Storms
- Costalegre: Santiago – Brilliant sunrises every day!
- Craters of the Moon + Cataclysms from Sun Valley ID to Alpine WY
- Fiery Sunsets and Interesting Folks in the Arizona Desert
- Grand Teton National Park WY – Wild Skies
- Nature’s Capriciousness in Idaho – Streams, Mountains and Storms!
- Silver Thread Scenic Byway in Colorado – Fire in the Sky!
More articles from our travels in Colorado:
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO – Steep and Deep!
- Brilliant Fall Foliage + Snow in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
- Buena Vista Colorado – What a Place for an RV Breakdown!
- Burro Days! Burro Races, Llamas & Outhouses in Fairplay CO
- Colorado GOLD – A Fall Foliage Photography Workshop
- Colorado National Monument & Fruita CO – Red Rocks, Cycling & Wine!
- Colorado’s San Juan Skyway – An RV Trip in Dazzling Fall Color!
- Colorado’s Stunning Scenic Drives…by Porsche!
- Cowboy Poetry Gatherings in Durango, Colorado, and Alpine, Texas!
- Creede, CO – Mining History & Championships + 4th of July!
- Crested Butte – Wildflower Capital of Colorado!
- Hartman Rocks – A Different View of Colorado near Gunnison
- Lake Granby Colorado RV Trip – A Summer Beach Vacation!
- Lakes and Light in Wyoming and Colorado
- Mesa Verde National Park, CO – Life on the Edge with the Ancients
- Ouray – Finding the COLOR in Colorado on an RV Trip!
- Remote RV Camping: Antero Reservoir & Blue River Colorado
- Ridgway, CO – Peak fall foliage on the Dallas Divide – WOW!!
- Rocky Mountain High: Alpine Beauty in Colorado + Trout Lake!
- Rocky Mountain National Park & Trail Ridge Road: RV? Dog??
- Romance at Maroon Bells Colorado!
- RV Trip on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway – Ouray to Silverton
- San Juan Mountains Colorado – And then it Snowed!
- Silver Thread Scenic Byway in Colorado – Fire in the Sky!
- Telluride Gondola Ride in Colorado – FREE and Dog Friendly!
- Where All News is Good News – At the Saguache Crescent in CO
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