By Raetta Holdman

DENVER (CBS4) – This week brings more national recognition for just how beautiful the state of Colorado is. Two more of Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways are now part of the National Scenic Byway system.

The Scenic Highway of Legends — Colorado Highway 12 and U.S. 160 in southeastern Colorado — received the distinction, as did the Silver Thread in south-central and southwestern Colorado. That route is part of Colorado Highway 149 and U.S. 50.

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“These new designations are a tribute to this great state and characterize the breadth of its beautiful landscapes, history and culture,” Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a news release.

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“In addition to providing new and exciting adventures for travelers, our Scenic and Historic Byways help protect these much-valued areas of Colorado.”

The Scenic Highway of Legends features the Spanish Peaks linking Trindad, La Veta, Walsenburg and Aguilar. It is 82 miles long and takes about two hours to drive. The drive reveals not only majestic views of the Sangre de Cristos and Spanish Peaks but historic architecture.

silver thread

The Silver Thread (credit: CDOT)

The Silver Thread traverses the isolated areas of the San Juan Mountains stretching from South Fork, Creed, Lake City and Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison. It takes about three hours to drive the 117 miles. It will take you through a number of abandoned mining structures as well as the spectacular Clear Creek Falls.

The state says the byways are not only a way to experience Colorado’s beauty they also are important for economic development. A recent analysis found byways around the state contributed nearly $4.8 billion to the economy over a six-year period. The Scenic Highway of Legends contributed nearly $180 million and the Silver Thread more than $67 million.

Colorado has 13 National Scenic Byways, more than any other state.

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“What a remarkable nod to our State’s timeless beauty and a well-deserved recognition for the efforts of Colorado citizens to share it with everyone,” Nathan Boyless, chair of Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways Commission said in the same release. “The open road beckons, scenic travels!”

Raetta Holdman