3 Scenic Byways: Best in Class

Travelers assume that all 26 of Colorado’s Scenic Highways pass through gorgeous landscapes. That is a correct assumption. In addition, visitors will find a regional cluster of three byways in Southern Colorado, each boasting extraordinary excellence in a second intrinsic asset.  

For the Scenic Highway of Legends, it is geology including the radial dikes of the Spanish Peaks, the Dakota Sandstone Wall, and the K-Pg Boundary (think extinction of the dinosaurs).  For the Silver Thread, it is a first-rate visitor experience that tells the stories of 3 charming historic mountain mining towns that sprung up during the US Silver Boom.  For Los Caminos Antiguos, it is the cultural history of early Hispano settlement in Colorado.

Find five days to explore all three, or simply immerse yourself in one of these big nationally important themes—geology, history, or culture. 

Day 1: Scenic Highway of Legends

LUNCH:

Bob & Earl’s Cafe

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Providing great food since 1993. Here you can leave the mood of the Interstate behind, and pick up the quieter rhythm of a historic two-lane road on Hwy 12 just east of Trinidad.

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Locally Owned and Operated!

ACTIVITY:   

Trinidad Lake State Park 

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Geologic Features located just five miles from Trinidad open the door to the world of dinosaurs, and asteroids. The K-Pg Boundary, has evidence of the 5th extinction, can be seen on the Longs Canyon Trail.

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DINNER:

Stonewall Shopping Bag Restaurant

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Stonewall is a mountain village located near a gap in the Dakota Wall.  Interpretative information on this massive sandstone wall is found in the parking lot of the Shopping Bag Restaurant.      

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Locally owned and operated!

ACTIVITY:

San Isabel National Forest

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On Cordova Pass (above the town of Cuchara) visit Farley’s Overlook for an awe-inspiring panoramic view of geological formations that showcase over 400 radial dikes.

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– Insider’s Tip –

Before driving The Scenic Highway of Legends, download the free TravelStorys app from the AppStore or GooglePlay. Learn about the ancient geologic changes that have formed the surrounding landscape over millennia.

With this GPS, self-guided audio tour you can travel through the mountains at 10,000 feet and down into the flat plains, with both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Hear about the historic cities and towns, former mining camps, and even a few ghost towns.

Download the App!​

LODGING:

River’s Edge B&B at Dodgeton Creek Inn 

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Located at 8,650’ in historic Cuchara on the banks of Dodgeton Creek amongst pine trees and aspens. A great place to fish, hike, relax, or just read a book.

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Day 2

BREAKFAST:

River’s Edge B&B

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Included with every stay at the River’s Edge B&B. All of the guests are served a hot gourmet breakfast on their schedule. All efforts are made to accommodate special dietary needs.

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Locally Owned and Operated!

ACTIVITY:

Continue your driving tour of the Spanish Peaks

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Rising above the towns of Cuchara and La Veta, the Spanish Peaks are a masterpiece of nature, magnificently taking center stage as the backdrop for SpanishPeaksCountry.com 

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Care for Colorado:
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. -Nhat Hann-

LUNCH:

The Deck at The Dog Bar

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Known as the “Heart and Soul of Cuchara” The Dog Bar & Grill was named “One of the Top 12 Best Outdoor Patios in Colorado” by the Denver Post. Dog friendly – obviously!

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Locally owned and operated!

ACTIVITY:

Radial Dikes

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Radial Dikes near La Veta and Cuchara are a unique geological feature in North America, rare on Planet Earth, also exist on the Planet Venus. Over 400 dikes rise above the forest canopy.

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DINNER:

Legends on Main

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Opened in 2020 in La Veta, offering Authentic New Mexican and International food in the European tradition. Think locally, cook globally! Dine in the open air of the spacious adobe courtyard.

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Locally Owned and Operated!

ACTIVITY:

Historic Downtown La Veta

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Walk the tour of historic downtown La Veta. Then drive south and east until you catch a glimpse of Goemmer Butte, a latite volcanic plug (a geological feature) along the Scenic Highway of Legends.

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LODGING:

La Veta Inn

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Located in the heart of La Veta, a quaint little town at the base of the Spanish Peaks. This historic property has countless stories to tell, including some spooky tales.

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Locally Owned and Operated!

DAY 3

BREAKFAST:

Ryus Avenue Bakery

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Serving artisan breads, pastries, breakfast and lunch.

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Locally Owned and Operated!

You are now on the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway…

ACTIVITY:

Stations of the Cross Shrine

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Located in the heart of the town of San Luis, this walking trail winds past 12 bronze sculptures by world-renowned artist Huberto Maestes that intricately depict the last hours of Christ’s life.

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LUNCH:

Mrs. Rios/Thai Restaurant

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If you’re after amazing Thai food in Southern Colorado, look no further right here in San Luis, CO. You’ll also find an array of other entrees – including hamburgers and Southwestern fare – so there’s something for every palate.

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Locally Owned and Operated!

ACTIVITY:

The Sacred Circle Tour

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Nine historic mission churches interpret the religious and architectural history of Hispano settlers.

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DINNER:

Dos Hermanas

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Mexican, Southwestern, and American cuisine. Family owned and operated. Located in Main Street in Antonito.

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ACTIVITY:

Historic Antonito Cultural Walk 

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Take a walk down Antonito’s historic downtown; view murals by artist Fred “Lightning Heart” Haberlein and the headquarters for the SPMDTU (Society for the Mutual Protection of United Workers/La Sociedad Proteccion Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos).

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– Insider’s Tip –

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a 3 ft. narrow-gauge heritage railroad running on 64 miles of track. Rides depart at 10 a.m. from Antonito. Enjoy a coffee and gift shop at the C&T Scenic RR Depot, 1-888-286-2737.  

LODGING:

Narrow Gauge Railroad Inn

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Located next to the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad depot in Antonito, the Inn offers an RV park and gift shop on site.

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Care for Colorado:

The SPMDTU building represents an important aspect of Hispano history. In the late nineteenth century, Hispano workers in the San Luis Valley faced segregation and were not allowed in white schools, hospitals, or restaurants.

As a result, Hispano communities established mutual-aid societies to combat racial discrimination, to work for social and economic rights, to celebrate their culture, and to provide basic social insurance programs such as unemployment and burial aid.

To contribute to the costs of preservation work on this important building, contact the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area @ www.sangreheritage.org/spmdtu-to-be-restored

Day 4

BREAKFAST:

Dutch Mill Café

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If you are a lover of Mexican cuisine, come to Antonito! A favorite for breakfast burritos, as well as other Mexican specialties.  Located on Main St in Antonito. 

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Locally Owned & Operated!

Fourth Day continues on Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway…

ACTIVITY:

Creede Visitor’s Center

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Start your visit at the Creede Visitors Center and see an 1892 model of the town.  Pick up a Mile Post Guide for the Silver Thread Scenic Byway and a Bachelor Loop Tour Guide.

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LUNCH:

Tommyknocker Tavern

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The menu features deli-style sandwiches named after area attractions. Tommyknocker is the prankster spirit that lives in the mine, and knocks a warning when there is danger.

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– Insider’s Tip –

Fun fact: Tommyknocker is the spirit that lived in the mines. He would hide the miners’ tools and eat their lunches. However, when the mine was about to cave in, he would KNOCK in warning so the miners could escape to safety.  

ACTIVITY: 

Drive the Historic Bachelor Loop Tour

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A 17-mile driving (or biking) tour through Creede’s Historic Mining District includes Ghost Towns, Historic Silver Mines, Museums, and views of the Rio Grande River. 

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CO Trek >

DINNER:

Kip’s Grill

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Enjoy Baja style tacos and freshly made margaritas for dinner. Enjoy the game room while you wait for your tacos. Be sure to give the house-made sauces a try to give your tacos an extra kick.

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ACTIVITY:

Historic Downtown Creede

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The historic town was Colorado’s last standing silver mining boomtown. A lawless place, the town attracted outlaws, gamblers, women of the night, and miners looking to strike it rich.

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LODGING:

Casa Kokopelli

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This two-bedroom adobe house allows pets! Be sure to contact them directly and mention this itinerary when you book your stay here in Creede.

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Care for Colorado:

Stay the Trail: “Our mission is to reinforce and highlight responsible OHV use, and to modify and mitigate irresponsible use in an effort to minimize resource damage on public land. We offer educational services and materials to land management agencies, OHV and OHV accessory dealers, educational and community institutions, and the general public.”

https://staythetrail.org

Day 5

BREAKFAST:

Bristol Head Bakery

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Cross the street and treat yourself to some of the best made-from-scratch pastries. Enjoy breakfast before venturing back to Casa Kokopelli. The cinnamon rolls will delight your taste buds.

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ACTIVITY: 

North Clear Creek Falls/Paleo Indian Traditions/Folsom Man

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North Clear Creek Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Colorado and presents interpretative panels that introduce stories of ancient peoples.

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LUNCH:

Southern Vittles

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With so many southern favorites to choose from give yourself time to decide between chicken fried steak, fried catfish, and Texas BBQ. 

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LUNCH:

Southern Vittles

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With so many southern favorites to choose from give yourself time to decide between chicken fried steak, fried catfish, and Texas BBQ. 

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ACTIVITY: 

Alfred Packer Massacre Site

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When Packer’s group left the camp of Chief Ouray in Feb.1874, they were warned that they would never make it into Lake City. The prediction came true, for everyone but Alfred Packer.

DINNER:

Climb Elevated Eatery

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Treat yourself to a comfort food and elevated cocktail dinner at Climb Elevated Eatery, in Lake City. Enjoy your meal and reflect on the five-day road trip along three diverse scenic byways.

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ACTIVITY:

Historic Lake City, Colorado

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Today, Lake City, birthed by the silver boom, is one of the largest national historic districts in Colorado and part of the Colorado-Stargazing group for the preservation of dark skies. 

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LODGING:

Cannibal Cabins

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The Cabins consist of 8 rustic yet comfortable studios and 2-bedroom cabins with full kitchens. Walking distance to Lake City restaurants, miniature golf, a city park, fishing on the Gunnison River.

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