13 Abandoned Ghost Towns in Colorado and How to Get There

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Nothing is more fun than spooking adventures and exploring ghost towns in Colorado!

Colorado has a long and storied history of rough riders and rebels who started towns in the Rockies, and many sought the treasures hidden in these mountains: gold and silver.

Our wild west state has seen its share of boom towns and financial busts, and reportedly has as many as 1,500 ghost towns around the state.

More conservative estimates put that number closer to 600.

Either way, with enough exploration, you’re sure to find your share of abandoned buildings, derelict mine shafts, and ghost towns in Colorado.

1. Ghost Towns of the Rockies Private Tour

georgetown-loop-railroad

There’s no better way to explore some of Colorado’s Old West Gold Rush towns than on this private tour through the Rockies .

This 6-hour private driving tour includes time to visit and explore some of the most historic and haunted ghost towns in the state.

You and your group will visit mountain towns including:

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  • Central City
  • Idaho Springs

Not to mention, many other popular destinations including the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.

You’ll even have the opportunity to ride on the scenic Georgetown Loop Railroad, all included with your ticket.

This ghost town tour of the Rockies includes private transportation and pickup, as well as time for a hiking tour.

For this next section, we’re including ghost towns in northern Colorado that are near Denver and Boulder.

While most former mining towns around Denver went on to be major cities, some Colorado ghost towns still can be found outside the metro area.

2. Teller City

teller city colorado

Silver was discovered southwest of Gould, Colorado, near Walden back in 1879. And just a few years later the town of Teller City was booming!

At one time, it had as many as 1,500 residents. But these days Teller City has zero residents.

In addition to the reported 27 saloons, there was a hotel called the Yates House Hotel which had 40 rooms.

However, silver lost value just a few years later, and by 1902 Teller City was a ghost town.

Located in Roosevelt National Forest, a popular camping destination, Teller City makes a fun and spooky stop for a daytrip or mid-day activity.

Most of the town’s historic buildings are scattered around the woods, so bring your boots and trek around for an hour to two!

How to get to Teller City:

If you want to camp or hike near Teller City, here is how to get there. Access Teller City from Rand via Highway 125 or from Gould via Highway 14.

From downtown Gould, take County Road 21 for Roosevelt National Forest access, and follow signs for Teller City.

This ten-mile dirt road is best traversed with a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle.

arrow ghost town in colorado

Close to the Winter Park ski area and tucked in at the top of Rollins Pass is the town of Arrow.

First called Arrowhead, then Arrow, and now a ghost town. Arrow is the only town on this list that was not made popular for mining in the mountains.

Originally founded as a railroad and lumber camp, Arrow was a thriving town of thousands of residents until it burned to the ground in 1920.

These days you can still see where the town was located thanks to the old railroad beds.

If you’ve got a metal detector, bring it along! Many coins from the period and other metal artifacts can be found in the area.

How to get to Arrow:

Arrow is on property currently owned by Rendezvous Colorado , so make a stop in their sales office in Winter Park before heading out.

To get there, take US-40 through Winter Park and take the exit for Forest Road 80.

Head north on Forest Road 80, also called Corona Pass Road, and continue going right to stay on USFS 80 til you arrive in the town.

4. Dearfield

st elmo colorado ghost town

One of the most unique ghost towns in Colorado is Dearfield. This mining town was founded as an all-black settlement by Boulder entrepreneur Oliver T. Jackson in 1910.

Dearfield’s claim to fame is that it was one of the only Black and African-American settlements in Colorado in the early 1900s.

Though the first few years were rough, there were as many as 700 residents in Dearfield by 1921.

The town continued to grow until the Great Depression caused agriculture to suffer and the town shrank through the 1940s.

Today, you can still see what remains of the town’s diner, gas station, and founder Jackson’s home.

Denver’s Black American West Museum worked to preserve the town in the late 1990s. Dearfield is now a Colorado Registered Historic Landmark .

How to get to Dearfield:

From Greeley, head south on Highway 85 to Garden City. Then head east on Highway 34 for 24 miles to get to Dearfield.

Next on the list are ghost towns in central Colorado that are near smaller towns like Buena Vista and Aspen.

These scenic ghost towns in Colorado can be found near popular skiing destinations so you can spend a day skiing and then explore the old gold rush history. 

5. Saint Elmo

dearfield colorado

Of all the ghost towns on our list, St. Elmo is one of the best preserved and most easily accessed. It’s located just a few miles west of Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.

Of the 43 buildings that remain in Chalk Creek Canyon, you will find a saloon, courthouse and jail, mercantile, and many private homes.

Visitors have said that walking down the main street feels like stepping onto the set of an old movie. And in true ghost town fashion, Saint Elmo is said to be haunted.

Gold and silver brought miners to what was then called Forrest City in 1880. By 1881, Saint Elmo was an incorporated city of about 2,000 (mostly male) residents.

St. Elmo boasted many saloons and dance halls, as you might expect from a rowdy miner town of men!

After train services to Chalk Creek Canyon stopped in 1926, the population dwindled and by the 1950s the town was abandoned.

Today, this Colorado ghost town is not quite empty!

Stop by the St. Elmo General Store for souvenirs, antiques, and a snack or soda. You can also rent the 3-person cabin and spend a night in the ghost town!

Or spend the weekend in St. Elmo by booking a room at the Ghost Town Guest House , a bed and breakfast!

This quaint B&B serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is an ideal hub for your ghost town and hiking explorations.

How to get to St. Elmo:

Take Highway 24 south from Buena Vista and look for Country Road 162. It is on your right, just after you pass Nathrop.

Then take Co Rd 162 for 19 miles to Saint Elmo. And there’s plenty to discover near St. Elmo too.

Bring your hiking boots and stop by Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Agnes Vaille Falls (a short hike will take you to the falls), the ruins of Hancock and Mary Murphey Mine.

4X4 drivers can take Tincup Pass to explore the ghost towns of Pitkin, Tincup, and Ohio City.

6. Vicksburg

vicksburg colorado

Another well-preserved ghost town in Colorado is Vicksburg. It’s about an hour and 45 minutes from Aspen.

The town of Vicksburg started to grow in the 1860s and 70s when prospectors were flocking to the canyon area in search of gold, silver, and lead.

Vick Keller, who the town is named after, owned the general store. And at one time, as many as 700 people lived in Vicksburg.

The town became big enough to have its own blacksmith, school house, two hotels and two saloons!

While this town is a ghost town by definition, it is not totally without life. Most of these buildings have been continually occupied since they were built, and are in great condition.

The most notable buildings to check out are the cabins and a small museum that are still standing.

The ghost town of Vicksburg still has some buildings that have even been nicely restored to preserve the history.

How to get to Vicksburg:

Take highway 24 north from Buena Vista, or if you’re coming from Leadville head south, until you reach County Road 390/Clear Creek Reservoir.

Take CR 390 past the lake, and it’s 9 miles to Vicksburg. Continue another 3 miles to nearby Winfield, another ghost town, where the 2WD portion of the road ends.

You can get plenty of adventuring under your belt here by continuing on to one of the 4 other ghost towns nearby: Winfield, and two smaller towns, Rockdale and Beaver City.

7. Independence

independence ghost town in colorado

This ghost town is well-preserved but is only accessible during certain months of the year. Independence is located 16 miles east of Aspen.

And at 11,000 feet in elevation, October through May sees many, many feet of snow and makes the town inaccessible during these months.

Independence was originally founded in 1879 as Beldon tent camp, and over the years, this town has had many names.

But when the miners struck gold, the name “Independence” was the one that stuck. Between 1881 and 1882, over $190,000 in gold was mined.

The following year, however, only $2,000 worth of gold was mined. This town that once swelled to over 1,500 residents soon lost population to larger, milder, Aspen.

After an epic blizzard in 1899, all but one resident were driven out, and by 1912, Independence was a ghost town.

Today, you can walk among the remaining buildings, including the general store, stable, houses, and the Farwell Stamp Mill where the mined metals were processed.

Some buildings are little more than a facade and a foundation, so take care as you go near the more dilapidated structures or venture inside.

How to get to Independence:

Head south on highway 82 from Aspen for about 16 miles. Independence is located along part of the seasonal Independence Pass, so plan your trip according.

And always check the weather before you take off.

If you’re coming from the other direction, Independence is about four miles west of the summit.

8. Ashcroft

ashcroft colorado ghost town

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the town of Ashcroft is one of the biggest cities in Colorado to become a ghost town.

Once home to nearly 2,500 people, Ashcroft was once a bustling city boasting 6 hotels and 20 saloons.

Founded in 1880 following the discovery of silver in the area, Ashcroft was actually bigger than nearby Aspen and closer to the railroad in Crested Butte.

But the mines dried up in 1885 just as a rich strike was discovered in Aspen.

These days Ashcroft is maintained by the Aspen Historical Society .

Now, the roads of Ashcroft have returned to the wild and the remaining wooden structures make up a plenty ghostly main street.

Many of the buildings are in quite good condition, and are very photogenic in this rugged mountain setting, so bring a camera!

How to get to Ashcroft:

Out of Aspen, take Highway 82 west. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Castle Creek Road and continue for eleven miles to the town-site of Ashcroft.

Finally, we’re ending the list with some ghost towns in south Colorado that are near towns like Silverton and Telluride.

If you are looking for some abandon ghost towns in Colorado, there are some southern gems near the Continental Divide. 

9. Animas Forks

animas forks colorado

At 11,200 feet high in the San Juan Mountains is the ghost town of Animas Forks . It’s located about 12 miles northeastern of Silverton, Colorado.

Founded in 1873 where three nearby rivers met (including the Animas River), this town was first called Three Forks of the Animas.

By 1876, Animas Forks was a thriving mining city.

At this time the town had a hotel, a saloon, a post office, and a general store. And by 1883 there were about 450 residents.

There was even a local paper called the Animas Forks Pioneer!

Though mining brought plenty of people to Animas Forks, the harsh conditions of winter at 11,000+ feet altitude made winter living nearly impossible.

In 1884, a 23-day-long blizzard covered the town with so much snow, those who were in town had to travel from building to building by snow tunnel.

After this, most residents left the harsh winter environment in favor of Silverton. By the 1910s, the population was dwindling and Animas Forks was a ghost by the 1920s.

Today, several of the original buildings in Animas Forks are still standing along the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway.

Due to the high altitude and rough terrain, the best way to explore the region is by Jeep or other high-clearance 4×4.

In summer months, 2-wheel drive cars with good clearance may be able to make it from Silverton to Animas Forks.

But the road beyond Animas Forks through Engineer Pass to Lake City is 4-wheel drive only.

Interpretive brochures and maps of the area are provided in the parking area. Take care when walking inside or near these fragile old buildings!

How to get to Animas Fork:

From Silverton, take County Road 2 for about 12 miles until you reach Animas Forks Ghost Town.

If you’re coming from Ouray, take US 550 for 4 miles south to Co Rd 18 and go left for 4.3 miles.

Continue onto Co Rd 17 for 2.7 miles, then onto Co Rd 2 for 2 more miles into town.

Always check the weather conditions and condition of your vehicle before you go exploring.

Vehicles can get stuck in some sticky situations, so exercise caution and don’t be one who needs a rescue!

alta colorado town

Between Telluride and Rico is the small ghost town of Alta, Colorado . With an elevation of 11,800 feet high this mining town was home to a few hundred people.

And from 1877 to 1948, it was a hub for mining activity in the area and originally known as the Gold King area.

When World War II almost brought the town back to life the town’s population began shrinking until the 1940s.

Then, the mill burned down in 1948 sealing this town’s fate to become a ghost city.

Most remarkable, Alta was the first place to use Nikola Tesla’s AC transmission system.

Switching to electricity saved the mines a lot of effort, as the 4-mile pack mule route to get coal was no longer needed.

A power plant was built in Alta and the whole town once ran on electricity.

The remains of several original buildings and fences are still standing today. And you can tour what remains of the town during the warmer months from May to October.

While 2WD vehicles may be able to make the trek, 4x4s are recommended, especially if you want to continue on to Alta Lakes.

How to get to Alta:

Follow W 145 Spur Hwy/CO-145 west out of Telluride, and at the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit for CO 145 S.

Turn left onto Alta Lakes Road, about 6 miles south of Telluride, and continue for about 4 miles into Alta.

carson colorado ghost town

High-altitude mining brought hundreds to the city of Carson , but rough winters along the Continental Divide eventually sent them packing.

Carson is almost directly situated on the Continental Divide. And due to its location the town is the hardest to access but also one of the best preserved ghost towns in Colorado.

It’s always been hard to get to, which made getting resources for mining (and bringing home what was found!) very tough.

Carson was built at 11,600 feet in 1889 and had a wagon road to Lake City. Gold and silver were both mined in Carson. And at one time, the town had as many as 500 residents.

But the unforgiving landscape eventually drove away even the toughest old miners. Then, after the turn of the century Carson had become a ghost town.

These days, you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to visit what remains of the buildings. The town of Carson is located on private property but the owners allow visitors.

Once in town, you can walk among the surprisingly well-preserved buildings nestled among the trees where the town once thrived.

How to get to Carson:

Unless you’re prepared to make like a miner and get a donkey, 4 wheel drive is a requirement to reach Carson.

To get there from Lake City, take the Silver Thread Byway, Highway 149, Co Rd 30 (the Alpine Loop). Then follow Wager Gulch trail to Carson.

Note: Don’t confuse Carson with Old Carson, another mining city on the Pacific side of the Divide. Old Carson is probably older, and was built south of the mountain.

12. Russell Gulch

Like most ghost towns on this list, Russell Gulch was founded on the back of the Colorado gold rush near Idaho Springs. The town would live and die with the booms and busts of the gold rush. 

When gold was found in Russell Gulch, in June of 1859, it took only three short months before nearly 900 men moved into the valley and mining operations began.

By 1860, the town had swelled to 2,500 residents and brick buildings started popping up, many of which still stand to this day. 

By 1930, the population had shriveled to a mere 75 residents. When there was a moratorium against gold mining during WWII, it was the final nail in the coffin for Russell Gulch. 

Nowadays, Russell Gulch is a picturesque ghost town with many of the old structures peppered throughout the landscape. 

The most notable thing about this defunct old town now is the frisbee golf course that runs right through the ghost town.

Which lands it high in the running for one of the most beautiful disc golf courses in the world.

How to get to Russell Gulch:

There are two main ways to get to Russell Gulch.

The first way is safe for nearly any vehicle as it’s a paved road from I-70. Take exit 243 to Central City Parkway then left onto Lake Gulch Road. 

Go a short distance till you reach Virginia Canyon Road, take a left. Continue on until you reach a fork in the road. 

Follow this to the left onto Upper Russell Gulch Road and follow this until you reach Russell Gulch. 

The second way to Russell Gulch is from Idaho Springs and should only be tried in the warmer months and if you have a 4WD vehicle. 

The street’s official name is Virginia Canyon Road. But it is more commonly (and aptly) referred to as Oh My God Road. 

You’ll head north, up the mountain and down into Russell Gulch for about 5 miles before spotting the town.

13. Crystal

crystal mill hiking

The town of Crystal, Colorado was named for the Crystal River that runs through the center of town. 

It was established for mining camps in 1881 after discoveries of silver and gold in the surrounding mountains. 

In order to access the land for mining, thousands of acres were set on fire. To this day, the fires have altered the growth of trees and vegetation in the area. 

After the town built a supply power mill using the water from the Crystal River production of silver and iron mining continued to decline. And by 1915 the town’s population dried up and dwindled completely.

Today, Crystal is mostly abandoned and is only home to a few residents during the summer months. 

In 1985, the owner of Crystal deeded the land and ownership of the town to the government of Gunnison County where it remains free to explore.

How to get to Crystal, Colorado:

The main way to get to Crystal is via the town of Marble, Colorado, which is also near the iconic Crystal Mill . 

Jump onto Interstate 70 and head west into the mountains as if you’re going to Aspen. Turn onto Highway 82 south and drive until you come to Carbondale. Here you’ll connect to Highway 133 and continue driving south until you come to Marble, Colorado.

The drive to Crystal and the famous Crystal Mill is rough, unpaved and requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle to access. Or you can hike for several hours on foot.

However, once you arrive at Crystal spend some time exploring the abandoned structures and rustic architectures. It’s a quintessential Colorado ghost town that is very photogenic.

2023 UPDATE: The Crystal Mill is now closed to the public indefinitely and isn’t expected to reopen any time soon.

What defines a Ghost Town?

A ghost town is any city, town, or village that has been deserted and is no longer occupied.

Towns may become ghost towns after the industries that once supported the population dries up or slowly dies away.

Some ghost towns are created after natural or man-made disasters like floods, fires, or government intervention (especially in towns with uncontrolled lawlessness!).

A key feature of a ghost town is that the structures and buildings of the town remain intact to be seen by visitors.

While most ghost towns are left to eventually fall down completely, to be a ghost town there must be something left at the site.

Over the years, hundreds of cities were founded in Colorado. And many were created to support mining efforts.

ghost towns in colorado

Some mining towns, like Boulder, Denver, Aspen, Durango, and Telluride, become bigger cities even after the mining boom has passed.

But others, like Cripple Creek , couldn’t sustain their populations when the prospecting failed, or the nation’s economy moved on to other industries.

And so Colorado is left with the dwindling remains of a wild west heritage that ended more than a lifetime ago.

On this list, we’ve found the best ghost towns in Colorado we think you just can’t miss!

Top tips for visiting a ghost town

If you are planning a visit to a Colorado ghost town, here are some tips to make your trip epic.

Prepare for going off road

Most ghost towns are located in very rural areas and are accessible via dirt or gravel roads.

And because most ghost towns became ghosts well before wide-spread use of concrete sidewalks, most of the pathways and trails in town will be dirt.

As you walk through these mostly-abandoned areas, take care to leave no trace. Stick to any established walking paths to protect the wildlife and any private property.

Beware of remote locations

While some ghost towns are a short distance from larger cities, all ghost towns are ghost for a reason.

Use caution when planning a trip into the backwoods where cell service may be limited or nonexistent, roads can be treacherous, and few other visitors will be headed your way.

Always check the weather and road conditions, especially in the mountains!

Be gentle and leave no trace

Most ghost towns are totally unoccupied and unmaintained. That means it’s up to us to leave no trace.

This way we can continue to enjoy the experience and learn about history at these iconic Colorado locations.

Any garbage you bring must be packed out. Pick up any trash or debris you might find along your way.

Treat the buildings with respect! Don’t destroy them or carry away parts of them.

Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures so others can enjoy these ghost towns too!

Be responsible about pets and potties

As these are mostly unmonitored sites, there are no bathroom facilities at these destinations.

Some locations do not allow dogs while others do not have policies about them, so be responsible pet owners.

Wildlife in the area may be surprised by your dog. Pick up after your pet and be polite if you meet other visitors along the way.

ghost town village colorado

Professional Writer & Travel Blogger

Carrie Smith Nicholson is one of the co-founders of Hashtag Colorado Life. After living in Texas for her whole life she moved to Colorado 7 years ago. As a travel blogger and entrepreneur for the past 11 years, her writing has been featured on NBC News, HuffPost Live, Glamour Magazine, Inc Magazine and many other media outlets. When she's not writing about new travel locations, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking and trying new foods. You can follow her outdoor adventures on Instagram, @hashtagcoloradolife.

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10 Ghost Towns You Can Visit in Colorado

ghost town village colorado

Colorado is lined with ghost towns. Many of these abandoned communities are echoes of the gold rush fever that struck the state in the late 19th century. These towns, mostly in the high mountains, were once a bustling, strong sector in Colorado ’s economy. But when the dust dried up, so did the communities.

Today, you can visit Colorado ’s abandoned mining towns to get a glimpse at the history (and maybe even a shiver down your spine when you walk past the crumbling wooden houses and mine shaft skeletons). Many towns don’t feel like towns at all but may only be marked by a few barely-standing structures, such as previously operating saloons or brothels or banks.

Some former mining towns are far from ghostly and have evolved into thriving towns in their new incarnation. These include towns like Breckenridge , Leadville, and Idaho Springs. 

But if you want to venture back in time, a bit off the beaten path and into a less polished piece of Colorado ’s heritage, here’s where to go. It’s best to make this trek in warmer weather because some of these roads aren’t plowed or may be dangerous in winter. Here are our 10 favorite Colorado ghost towns.

Dunton Hot Springs

This is hands down our favorite ghost town in Colorado . Prepare to be surprised. Not only can you explore the grounds of this former mining community in southern Colorado but you can actually stay the night in one of the restored former mining cabins. To make it even better, they’re restored luxuriously and part of an all-inclusive getaway in the San Juan Mountains. Guests get access to three natural, private hot springs, including a breathtakingly beautiful indoor hot springs in a historically inspired bathhouse.

This is a five-star escape like no other, and it's rich with history. The Dunton mining settlement was founded in 1885 and never grew very big. Less than 50 people lived here, and by 1918, it was completely abandoned. It was later converted into a cattle ranch before it was then renovated to become a visitor getaway.

But the new owners took great care to preserve the history and authenticity. The interior of the cabins was redone, but the exterior of the cabins is rugged and shabby and feels like they’re transported directly from the 1800s.

South Park City

No, this isn’t the South Park with the funny TV show.  South Park City , located in the city of Fairplay, has been restored and turned into an open-air museum, which you can walk through to learn about the area’s history. 

Stroll through 44 authentic buildings, from frontier homes to businesses, including seven on their original sites. Look at the mining memorabilia (more than 60,000 artifacts), and get up close and personal with a piece of the past. 

This ghost town experience is more structured and polished up, rather than an explore-at-your-own-pace (and sometimes own risk) adventure that you might find at other Colorado ghost towns. 

St. Elmo is one of Colorado's best-preserved and also most popular ghost towns. It is located just past Buena Vista is on the National Register of Historic Places. This magical town feels like you are in an Old West film, only it's totally abandoned. Walk down the dusty Main Street and past wooden stores. Tip your hat at the old saloon. 

St. Elmo was founded in 1880 (originally under the name Forest City) for its natural gold and silver resources, and it grew popular, housing nearly 2,000 people. It thrived until the early ​'20s when the railroad shut down, and people began moving out. Visitors are surprised to learn that some people still live in St. Elmo. Fishing is great here, and you can actually go shopping in the general store. Not everything still stands; some buildings burned down, but St. Elmo remains remarkably intact.

Animas Forks

This is another one of Colorado's most popular ghost towns. Animas Forks, in southern Colorado (12 miles southeast of Silverton and four hours south of Aspen) is famous, as much as an abandoned town can be. One of the coolest sites here is a two-story house with large windows; you don't often see multi-story structures this old still standing. 

Animas Forks was founded in 1873, and it quickly grew. It used to have 30 different homes, plus a saloon (of course), a store, hotel, and even its own post office. At its peak, it boasted 450 residents.

Make a day out of your Animas Forks visit and spend time in the colorful, Victorian downtown of Silverton . It will set the tone for this time period. The jaw-dropping town of Ouray is also in this area. 

Tin Cup (also called Tincup and TinCup), not far from Pitkin, is where the Wild West got really wild. As the legends go, this mining town used to be run by rebels. They ran the sheriffs out of town or killed them. You can see the sheriff gravestones in the cemetery. Tin Cup was founded at Virginia City in 1878 but renamed because several other cities in the nation already had that name. Even before that, Tin Cup was considered dangerous; in the 1850s, when the original gold was discovered, few people wanted to live here because there was the threat or perceived threat of attack by Native Americans in the area.

For a taste of the Wild Wild West, rent a four-wheeler and check out the remaining buildings of Tin Cup, arguably Colorado's naughtiest ghost town.  Taylor Park , where Tin Cup is located, is considered one of the best ATV destinations in Colorado.

Today, not only do some historic buildings still stand, but some are in use.

This former mining town is far from abandoned. In fact, it's a hot place to visit in southern Colorado, not far from Ouray and north of Durango, and it has excellent restaurants, lodging, adventure outfitters and coffee shops. Silverton is also home to a narrow-gauge train that still runs today. Pair that with your visit to the historic structures and you'll truly feel like you're in another time period. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a real steam engine powered by coal, began running in 1881. Today, it winds through the mountains between Durango and Silverton and has been named one of the top 10 scenic railroads in the world. Silverton used to be mainly used as a supply center for other mining camps, making it historically important in the thriving of other ghost towns. The colorful Main Street is so stunning you will have to get out your camera for a photo shoot. 

This is a ghost town that's truly been forgotten. It's extremely remote and not restored, making it a completely different experience than former mining areas like Silverton. You can find Carson near the Continental Divide, perched at about 12,000 feet above sea level, earning it the honor as one of Colorado's highest ghost towns. It is located near Lake City. 

The buildings here are as they were forgotten and as nature has done with them: missing roofs and walls, all surrounded by nature. No one lives here today and it's not a tourist sensation. But it's a fine reward of scenery and solitude for those off-the-beaten travelers looking to experience something unique. Note: You will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to manage these dirt roads. 

Independence

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

If you've visited the Aspen area, you've surely heard of Independence Pass, one of the best places to watch the leaves change color in the fall. The ghost town of Independence is perched atop this high mountain pass. The best way to experience Independence is to book a guided tour via the Aspen Historical Society or a Jeep tour of the area. This is a rare instance where you can visit a ghost town with an expert guide.

Independence has a short history but endless views. The reason its mining stint was so short is likely due to access. Miners could only get there on stagecoach and skis. Not exactly convenient. 

Today, the pass is paved so you can enjoy the views easily. 

Teller City

The south wasn't the only place for miners. Teller City is in Northern Colorado, near the town of Rand. This mining town was all about silver. Back then, it has hundreds of homes and (get this) almost 30 saloons. (Apparently, the silver miners liked to party.) In its peak, Teller City housed about 1,500 people. 

Today, you can check out the skeleton remains of this lost town. No one lives here, but one thing that makes Teller City worth the visit is you can camp nearby in the national forest. So spend some time exploring the abandoned buildings (it'll take you about an hour) and then pop up a tent for the night to let the experience sink in. Bring a fishing pole because there are multiple lakes and streams here great for fishing. 

This ghost town stands out because it's different for three big reasons. First, it's not in the mountains, like most of Colorado's ghost towns. Second, Dearfield was an entirely African American settlement.

Third, this abandoned town wasn't lost after the mining boom dried up. This unique community was founded to create a municipality owned and run by African American people. It didn't become endangered until 1999. Today, some remnants of the community remain, including a gas station, house, and diner. It is currently being restored but it is still considered a ghost town. 

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Ghost Towns In Colorado

Step into the past and discover the hidden gems of Colorado’s ghost towns. These forgotten remnants of the Wild West stand as eerie reminders of a bygone era, frozen in time like ghosts haunting the rugged landscape.

With their crumbling buildings, dusty streets, and abandoned mines, these Colorado ghost towns hold a certain enchantment, beckoning you to explore their haunted history.

As you wander through these ghostly remains, you’ll feel a sense of adventure tinged with a bit of trepidation. It’s as if these Colorado ghost towns are whispering secrets, waiting to be discovered.

But fear not, for amidst the eeriness lies a subtle beauty and a feeling of safety. The ghost towns of Colorado offer a unique opportunity to experience the past while still being grounded in the present, providing a thrilling escape that satisfies your subconscious desire for security.

So grab your sense of curiosity and prepare to embark on a journey through time, where the past comes alive in the most hauntingly beautiful way.

1. Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek

As you step into Cripple Creek , you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time to a bustling mining town, frozen amid its golden heyday. The streets are lined with historic buildings that have been carefully preserved, giving you a glimpse into the past.

The air is filled with the sound of laughter and the clinking of glasses, as locals and tourists alike gather in the saloons and casinos that dot the ghost towns in Colorado. But beneath the charming facade, there’s a sense of mystery and adventure that lingers in the air. You can almost hear the whispers of the miners who once toiled in the depths of the earth, searching for precious gold.

As you explore the Colorado ghost towns, you’ll come across abandoned mines and old mining equipment, reminding you of the dangers that lurked beneath the surface. Yet, there’s a certain thrill in knowing that you’re safe, that you’re merely a visitor in this ghostly town.

Cripple Creek is a hidden gem, a place where you can experience the excitement of the Wild West while still feeling secure in the knowledge that a welcoming community surrounds you.

2. St. Elmo

Mille Fiori Favoriti: St. Elmo Ghost Town

Step into the eerie streets of St. Elmo and get ready to discover a hauntingly captivating experience. As you wander through the Colorado ghost town’s buildings and dusty streets, a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounds you.

The dilapidated structures and remnants of a once-bustling town create an eerie and fascinating atmosphere. It’s as if time has stood still in St. Elmo, transporting you back to a bygone era.

As you explore the haunted streets, you can’t help but feel a mix of excitement and caution. The stories of ghostly apparitions and unexplained phenomena add an extra layer of intrigue to your adventure. Every creaking floorboard and rustling breeze sends a shiver down your spine, but there’s a part of you that secretly enjoys the thrill.

The Colorado ghost town’s eerie charm and its rich history draw you in, making it impossible to resist the allure of St. Elmo.

While St. Elmo may be haunted by the spirits of its past, there’s a subconscious desire for safety that lingers within you. You tread carefully, taking in the sights and sounds, but always aware of your surroundings. It’s a thrilling experience, but your subconscious mind reminds you to stay cautious.

The ghostly tales and abandoned buildings may entice you, but your safety is paramount. So, as you explore the haunted streets of St. Elmo, remember to enjoy the spine-tingling adventure, but also ensure that you take necessary precautions to make it a truly unforgettable and safe experience.

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3. Animas Forks Ghost Town

Animas Forks Ghost Town

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Animas Forks and witness the remnants of Colorado’s mining industry come to life before your eyes. As you stroll through the streets of this ghost town in Colorado, you can almost hear the hustle and bustle of miners and their families who once called this place home.

The dilapidated buildings stand as a testament to the harsh realities of life in the mining era, reminding us of the dangers that lurked beneath the surface. But don’t worry, as you explore Animas Forks, you’re safe.

The ghost towns in Colorado may be abandoned, but the stories it holds are still alive. The crumbling wooden structures that once housed saloons, general stores, and homes now serve as a window into the past. You can almost envision the miners returning from a long day’s work, seeking solace in the warmth of the fireplace and the company of their loved ones.

Animas Forks offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the hardships and triumphs of Colorado’s mining history. So come, satisfy your curiosity, and quench your thirst for adventure, all while knowing that you’re protected by the safety of the present.

4. Ashcroft

Ashcroft

Get ready to travel back in time as you wander through the haunting remnants of Ashcroft , where the echoes of a once-thriving community whisper tales of its rise and fall.

As you explore this Colorado ghost town, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and curiosity. The abandoned buildings and empty streets paint a vivid picture of the past, transporting you to a time when Ashcroft was a bustling hub of activity.

But amidst the eerie silence, you can also sense a subtle reminder of the dangers that lurk in this mining ghost town in Colorado. The remnants of collapsed mines and dilapidated structures serve as a cautionary tale, reminding you to tread carefully as you explore. It’s a sobering experience, a reminder that even amid prosperity, some risks and uncertainties shaped the destiny of this once-vibrant community.

As you wander through Ashcroft, let the echoes of its past guide you. Take in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and the tranquility of the ghostly remains.

And as you leave, remember that while this Colorado ghost town may be a ghostly shell now, its history and stories continue to live on, etched into the very fabric of Colorado’s rich mining heritage.

5. Independence Pass

Independence

As you continue your journey through the rugged landscapes of the Rocky Mountains, you can’t help but be captivated by the allure of Independence Pass , a forgotten relic of a bygone era. This Colorado ghost town, nestled at an elevation of over 12,000 feet, was once a thriving mining community.

Now, all that remains are the remnants of once bustling ghost towns in Colorado, standing as a stark reminder of the hardships faced by those who sought their fortunes in the unforgiving mountains.

As you explore the abandoned buildings and crumbling structures, a sense of adventure and caution washes over you. The wind whispers through the trees, carrying with it the echoes of a time long gone. You can almost hear the sounds of pickaxes hitting rock and laughter filling the air.

It’s a hauntingly beautiful sight, but also a reminder of the dangers that lurk in these remote areas. As you navigate the narrow roads and cliffs, you can’t help but feel a subconscious desire for safety. It’s a reminder to tread carefully, to respect the power of nature, and to appreciate the history that lies before you.

So as you continue your journey through Independence Pass, take a moment to reflect on the past, embrace the present, and cherish the beauty of this hidden gem in the heart of Colorado’s ghost towns. On the other hand, Ohio City also serves as a good hub to explore other ghost towns nearby.

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Gothic

The crisp mountain air tingles with anticipation as you step into the historic town of Gothic , nestled deep in the heart of the Rockies. It’s as if the town itself is whispering secrets from its past, enticing you to explore its hidden treasures.

As you wander through the quiet streets, you can’t help but feel a sense of safety and tranquility. The old buildings, weathered by time, stand as a testament to the resilience of the people who once called this place home. You can almost hear their voices echoing through the empty halls, telling stories of a bygone era.

Gothic may be ghost towns in Colorado now, but its charm and beauty are still very much alive. The surrounding mountains provide a protective embrace, creating a haven of serenity and peace. It’s a place where worries and anxieties melt away, replaced by a sense of awe and wonder.

The towering trees sway gently in the breeze, casting dancing shadows on the worn wooden sidewalks. As you explore further, you stumble upon the old schoolhouse, a symbol of the town’s commitment to education and community. It’s a reminder that even in the toughest of times, a few residents of Gothic found solace in coming together.

In Gothic, time seems to stand still, allowing you to escape the chaos of the modern world and immerse yourself in a simpler time. The town may be hidden away, but it holds a certain allure that draws you in. It’s a place where you can breathe in the fresh mountain air, soak in the natural beauty, and find a sense of peace that is hard to come by in our fast-paced lives.

So take a step back in time and let Gothic wrap you in its warm embrace. You won’t be disappointed.

Tincup, Colorado – Activities and Events | Gunnison County

Explore the rustic charm of Tin Cup , where you’ll be transported back to Colorado’s Wild West era.

This hidden gem is a relic of a time when cowboys roamed the streets and gold prospectors seeking their fortune in the nearby mountains.

As you wander through the town, you can’t help but feel a sense of adventure and excitement in the air.

Tin Cup may be a ghost town in Colorado now, but it still holds onto its rich history and rugged beauty.

The old wooden remaining buildings, weathered by time, tell stories of a bygone era.

You can almost imagine the sound of horses clattering down the dirt roads and the laughter of miners celebrating their latest find.

It’s a place where you can step back in time and experience the thrill of the Wild West, all while feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that this is just a glimpse into the past.

So, come and explore Tin Cup, where the spirit of Colorado’s Wild West era lives on, and let your imagination run wild.

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8. Nevadaville

Nevadaville

Now that you’ve explored the Wild West era in Tin Cup, it’s time to venture into the forgotten mining towns of Nevadaville . As you make your way through the rugged Colorado landscape, you can’t help but feel a sense of anticipation and curiosity.

The stories of this ghost town in Colorado have been whispered through the generations, and now it’s your turn to uncover its secrets.

As you approach Nevadaville, you can’t help but notice the eerie silence that hangs in the air. Once a bustling mining community, this town now stands frozen in time. The abandoned buildings and crumbling structures tell tales of a bygone era, while the surrounding mountains stand as silent witnesses to the town’s former glory.

As you step foot into the streets, you can’t help but feel a mixture of awe and melancholy. It’s as if the spirits of the past still linger here, waiting to share their stories with those who are willing to listen.

Exploring Nevadaville is like stepping into a time capsule. You can wander through the old saloons, imagining the laughter and camaraderie that once filled the air. You can peek into the abandoned homes, wondering about the lives that were lived within their walls. Every corner you turn and every step you take is a reminder of the resilience and determination of the people who once called this place home. Furthermore, this is more easily accessible than other ghost towns in Colorado.

As you delve deeper into the heart of Nevadaville, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and respect for the pioneers who braved the harsh Colorado winters in search of fortune and adventure.

So, grab your curiosity and a sense of adventure, and get ready to uncover the hidden gems of Nevadaville. The ghosts of the past are waiting to share their stories with you, and as you explore this forgotten mining town, you may just find a piece of history that captures your heart.

Dunton

As you embark on your journey to Dunton – San Juan mountains, you’ll be transported back in time to a once-thriving mining community that has been transformed into a luxurious retreat for those seeking a unique and exclusive getaway.

Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, Dunton offers a one-of-a-kind experience that combines the charm of ghost towns in Colorado with the comfort of modern amenities.

As you enter the town, you’ll be greeted by beautifully restored historic cabins that exude a sense of rustic elegance. Each cabin is uniquely designed and offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere, complete with plush furnishings and modern conveniences.

Whether you choose to relax by the fireplace or soak in a private hot spring, Dunton provides the perfect setting for you to unwind and escape the stresses of everyday life.

In addition to its luxurious accommodations, Dunton offers a range of activities for guests to enjoy. From hiking and fishing in the surrounding wilderness to indulging in gourmet meals prepared by talented chefs, there is something for everyone.

The town’s remote location also allows for a sense of peace and tranquility, providing a haven for those seeking solace and relaxation.

So why wait? Embark on your journey to Dunton and experience the magic of this hidden gem for yourself. You’ll be transported to a different era, where time stands still and luxury meets history.

Get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime in this enchanting ghost town retreat.

Victor

Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant culture of Victor , where the heritage of once-thriving mining towns is passionately preserved.

As you stroll through the streets of this ghost town in Colorado, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. The old buildings, with their weathered facades and creaking wooden floors, stand as a testament to the resilience and determination of the people who once called this place home.

But it’s not just the architecture that will captivate you. The town is alive with the stories of the miners who toiled underground, searching for precious metals. You can almost hear their voices echoing through the narrow alleys and abandoned mine shafts.

As you explore the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the hardships and triumphs of those who built this town from the ground up.

Victor may be a ghost town, but it’s far from empty. The community is dedicated to preserving its heritage and ensuring that future generations can experience the history and culture that define this unique place.

From annual events like the Gold Rush Days to the ongoing restoration of historic buildings, there’s always something happening in Victor. So come and immerse yourself in the past, knowing that you’re in the hands of a community that values safety and cherishes their town’s hidden gems.

Como

Get ready to be blown away by the incredible rise and fall of Como , a once-thriving town in the South Park Basin that went from boom to bust in the blink of an eye.

Nestled in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Como was a bustling hub of activity during the late 19th century. With its prime location along the Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad, the town quickly became a vital transportation and supply center for the surrounding mining communities.

However, as the mining industry began to decline, so did Como’s fortunes. The once vibrant streets now stand empty, with only a few remnants of its former glory remaining.

Walking through Como today, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and curiosity. The dilapidated buildings and abandoned streets serve as a haunting reminder of the town’s past. It’s a stark contrast to the picturesque beauty of the surrounding mountains.

As you explore the ghostly remnants of Como’s once-thriving community, you can’t help but wonder what life was like during its heyday. The stories of the miners and their families who called this place home echo through the empty buildings, creating an eerie atmosphere that is both captivating and unsettling.

Although Como may be a ghost town in Colorado now, it still holds a certain allure for those who seek to uncover the hidden gems of Colorado’s past.

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12. Bonanza

Bonanza

Bonanza still echoes with the haunting remnants of its once-thriving silver boom, where dilapidated buildings and abandoned streets stand as a chilling reminder of its past glory.

As you wander through this ghostly town, you can’t help but feel a sense of intrigue mixed with a subconscious desire for safety. The crumbling structures and deserted streets create an eerie atmosphere, drawing you in with their mysterious allure.

Amidst the decay, you can almost hear the whispers of the past, telling stories of fortune seekers who once flocked to Bonanza in search of silver riches. The buildings, with their weathered facades and broken windows, stand as silent witnesses to the dreams and aspirations that once filled this place. It’s a haunting reminder that even the most prosperous of ghost towns can meet a tragic fate.

As you explore the deserted streets, your imagination starts to run wild. You can’t help but wonder about the lives that were lived here the hopes and dreams that were shattered, and the hardships that were endured. It’s a stark reminder that nothing is permanent and that even the most thriving ghost towns can become forgotten relics of the past.

In Bonanza, the ghostly remnants of the silver boom serve as a cautionary tale. They remind us to cherish what we have and to appreciate the stability and safety of our own lives. It’s a humbling experience, standing amid this forgotten ghost town in Colorado, surrounded by the echoes of its past.

As you leave Bonanza behind, you can’t help but carry a newfound appreciation for the safety and security that you have, knowing that the ghosts of Bonanza will forever haunt your subconscious desire for safety.

13. Caribou

Caribou

While exploring Caribou , you can’t help but wonder if the abandoned silver mines hold secrets waiting to be discovered.

As you step cautiously through the crumbling structures, the eerie silence hangs in the air, broken only by the sound of your footsteps echoing in the vast emptiness. The dilapidated wooden beams and rusted machinery serve as reminders of a once-thriving mining community that now lies abandoned and forgotten.

As you venture deeper into the mines, the flickering light from your flashlight illuminates the narrow passageways, revealing the remnants of a bygone era. The walls are lined with mineral veins, glistening with the remnants of silver that once brought prosperity to this desolate place.

The air feels heavy as if it’s holding the weight of the past, and you can’t help but feel a sense of reverence for the men and women who toiled in these mines, their hopes and dreams forever etched into the rocky walls.

While the allure of uncovering hidden treasures may beckon, it’s important to remember to proceed with caution. The decaying structures and unstable ground serve as a reminder that safety should always be a top priority. So take your time, explore with care, and appreciate the history that surrounds you.

The abandoned silver mines of Caribou are a haunting reminder of a once-thriving industry, and as you step back into the daylight, you can’t help but feel grateful for the safety and security of the present.

Turret - semi ghost town

As you step into the enchanting depths of the San Isabel National Forest, prepare to be mesmerized by the hidden gem known as Turret . This ghost town, nestled amidst the towering trees and serene landscapes, offers a glimpse into the rich history of Colorado’s mining era.

As you wander through the buildings, you’ll feel a sense of awe and wonder at the resilience of the people who once called this place home.

But amidst the beauty, it’s important to remember to stay safe. The remnants of the old mines can be treacherous, with hidden shafts and unstable structures. As you explore Turret, be sure to watch your step and stay on designated paths.

It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of this forgotten ghost town, but your safety should always be a priority. Soak in the history and beauty of Turret, but do so with caution, knowing that the forest and its secrets demand respect.

Ghost Towns In Colorado - Gilman

Explore Gilman , a haunting reminder of the toxic legacy left behind by Colorado’s mining history, and be prepared to be both fascinated and disturbed by its eerie atmosphere.

As you venture into this abandoned ghost town, you’ll be surrounded by decaying buildings and remnants of a once-thriving community. The air is heavy with an unsettling silence, broken only by the occasional creaking of a dilapidated structure.

But as you delve deeper into Gilman’s history, you’ll uncover the darker side of its past. The ghost town was abandoned in the 1980s due to environmental contamination caused by the mining activities that once sustained it. Toxic substances such as lead and zinc have seeped into the soil and water, leaving behind a hazardous environment that’s best observed from a safe distance.

While the ghost town may be a captivating sight, it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of responsible mining practices and the long-lasting consequences they can have on both the environment and human health.

So, as you explore Gilman, take in its eerie beauty from afar and let it serve as a cautionary tale, reminding us to protect and preserve our natural surroundings for future generations.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the ghost towns of Colorado. From the frozen streets of Cripple Creek to the abandoned silver mines of Caribou, these hidden gems hold a rich history just waiting to be explored.

As you wander through these ghostly remains, you can’t help but be transported back in time, imagining the bustling ghost towns that once stood in their place. Imagine stepping into the shoes of a miner in Cripple Creek, working tirelessly to unearth gold from the depths of the earth. Or picture yourself strolling down the haunted streets of St. Elmo, feeling the chill of the spirits that are said to still linger there.

These ghost towns offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Colorado’s mining history and to connect with the past in a truly tangible way.

So, if you’re looking for an adventure off the beaten path, why not explore the ghost towns of Colorado? You never know what secrets you might uncover or what stories you might stumble upon. Whether you’re a history buff, a thrill-seeker, or simply someone with a curious spirit, these hidden gems are sure to captivate and intrigue you.

So grab your hiking boots, pack a picnic, and get ready to embark on a journey through the forgotten ghost towns of Colorado.

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Travel | skydiver dies saturday in longmont, things to do, travel | these 9 abandoned colorado ghost towns will give you the chills, crystal mill, st. elmo, independence among the most picturesque sites.

Holy Cross City near Mount of the Holy Cross once was home to about 300 people. It's reachable on foot via two trail or road (about 4 miles), but the road is only passable in a four-wheel-drive or off-road vehicle. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

In 1858, prospectors struck gold on Cherry Creek, and in an instant a generation of Americans and fortune seekers from abroad was bound for what would become Colorado. It worked out OK for Denver, which became the largest and most influential city in the Rockies. Thousands of other towns in Colorado weren’t so fortunate.

From 1858 until the silver crash of 1893, towns popped up almost overnight where gold or silver was found. Just as quickly, the vast majority were abandoned when the ore ran out, often in places so difficult to reach even today that you’ll wonder how the miners managed daily life.

Most of these hamlets are gone, but the mountains are littered with their crumbling remains – cabins, bunkhouses, stores and mining structures. They stand as a testament to the pioneers’ ingenuity and monuments to their often-broken dreams.

Visiting these places is akin to stepping back in time. Some you can reach on dirt roads passable in the family sedan. Others require a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Still others remain deep in the wilderness, reachable by lacing up a pair of sturdy hiking boots. Each has its own unique story of success and then failure.

The ghost town of Indepence is well preserved, thanks to the Aspen Historical Society. You can wander around and even into some of the old miners cabins. (Photo by Jennifer Broome/Special to The Denver Post)

This is your guide to touring some of Colorado’s best-preserved ghost towns. Keep in mind that old mines are dangerous and can be home to explosive or poisonous gases. People have died falling into shafts, so explore with care and don’t get too close.

Bachelor Loop, Creede

The last great mining boom in Colorado was centered in the San Juan Mountains. Silver was struck here in 1890, and within two years there were dozens of mines and boom towns around what is today the town of Creede. The frenzy of activity was short-lived. In 1893 the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was repealed to resolidify the gold standard; the federal government stopped buying silver and the mines collapsed.

Unlike many of Colorado’s old mining towns, Creede itself is still there, a tourist hotspot. The Creede Repertory Theatre draws enthusiasts from across the country each summer. You can drive the scenic 17-mile Bachelor Loop above town and take a trip past some of the best-preserved mine sites in Colorado. There are several interpretive signs and stops of interest. Those with four-wheel-drive can take side roads deeper into the terrain. Cyclists are encouraged to take the loop counter-clockwise, tackling most of the climbing in the first 4 miles.

The race to preserve the historic Crystal Mill in the Elk Mountains near Aspen is on. A foundation is trying to raise $10 million to save it. (Crystal Mill Foundation)

Crystal Mill

This picturesque old mill, perched on the side of a waterfall, is one of the most Instagrammed spots in Colorado. The mill was built in 1893 to support the Sheep Mountain Tunnel mine near the present town of Marble. It generated compressed air that powered tools used by the miners. The mine limped on until 1917 when it closed. A few people still spend summers in cabins in the nearby hamlet of Crystal, once home to about 500 people.

You need a sturdy vehicle – preferably four-wheel-drive or off-highway – to get to the mill from Marble. Otherwise it’s a 4-mile hike each way along the road. The site’s beauty is worth every step. Heed all signs marking private property. (Note: It costs $10 to access the private property from which some of the most iconic photos are taken.)

Lynnea Rappold looks inside an old boiler left behind after efforts to tunnel into Pikes Peak were abandoned years ago. It's a hike of about 2 miles to the Ghost Town Hollow site from the Pikes Peak Highway. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

Ghost Town Hollow

You’ll need a pair of hiking shoes to reach the remnants of this settlement at about 11,800 feet elevation on Pikes Peak. The cabin foundations and old boilers are all that remain of an effort to blast a tunnel into the heart of the mountain in search of valuable metals. A fatal explosion terminated the endeavor, and the mine entrance was sealed about a dozen years ago to keep people out.

To get there drive the Pikes Peak Highway ($5-$15 per person age 6 or older; discounts per carload) to mile marker 14 and park at the Elk Park trailhead. It’s an easy 1.4-mile downhill hike to an intersection. Turn right at the sign for the Oil Creek Tunnel and it’s a half-mile uphill to the ghost town.

Holy Cross City

This town gets its name from nearby Mount of the Holy Cross. The town itself was once home to 300 people and had a post office and hotel, but it was abandoned by the 1890s. Semi-intact buildings and rusted boilers and other equipment remain. You can get there by driving the original road built in 1883, now known as Holy Cross Jeep Trail 759. Note that the U.S. Forest Service says it is one of the more difficult four-wheel-drive roads in Colorado due to rocks and boulders.

You can hike the road, 4 miles each way, to each the site. For a quieter experience hike from the Fancy Lakes Trailhead into the Holy Cross Wilderness and turn right at the sign for the ghost town, a round-trip distance of 7.5 miles. If time permits take a detour to Fancy Lake, a gorgeous alpine lake that makes a great stop for lunch or an overnight camp.

The remains of Independence, a mining town founded in about 1880, still stand at 10,830 feet on Independence Pass. In 1882 it was home to about 1,500 people and boasted more than 40 stores. The town was all but abandoned by 1900. (Photo by Jennifer Broome/Special to The Denver Post)

Independence

Independence Pass is one of the highest and prettiest paved roads in Colorado, connecting Aspen with the rest of the world to the east in the warmer months. The name comes from this town founded in 1879 high in the snowy tundra at about 11,000 feet. By 1882 the town had a population of 1,500, 40 businesses and three post offices. When the gold ran out most people fled this harsh climate.

A few hung on until 1899, when one of the worst snowstorms in Colorado history cut them off and they faced starvation. Homes were dismantled to make skis and residents fled Independence, never to return. The remaining buildings – eight largely intact – have been preserved by the Aspen Historical Society. Interpretive signs share the town’s history.

You can’t miss the ghost town while driving on Independence Pass; it’s right along the highway.

There are numerous mines and ghost town remains along Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, including equipment that spans dizzying chasms. You can see much of it from U.S. 550. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

Mayflower Gulch

Pull out your hiking shoes. This hike, which starts off Fremont Pass between Leadville and Copper Mountain, leads into a stunning mountain cirque littered with mining remains. The trail follows the road built in the 1890s when miners created the Boston Mine. Some $500,000 in gold and silver were produced and a robust village formed. But before long it was abandoned as the ore was deemed to be impure.

It’s a popular hike, an easy 3 miles to the old town itself. You can continue on a fine trail higher into the basin to discover more mining buildings.

There are numerous mines and ghost town remains along Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, including equipment that spans dizzying chasms. You can see much of it from U.S. 550. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

Red Mountain Pass

There are too many mines and ghost towns to name on this stunning mountain pass between the towns of Ouray and Silverton. They are built along perilous cliffs, with equipment spanning dizzying chasms. Most of the mining occurred between 1882 and 1893, and the towns and hamlets are victims of the same silver crash that closed so many mines.

You can see most of the buildings from the road, U.S. 550, but you may want to park and wander around the townsite of Ironton, where some residents clung on until the 1970s. The trails and preserved buildings are the result of work by the Red Mountain Task Force, which purchased 8,500 acres to preserve and installed interpretive signs that share the area’s history with visitors.

ST. ELMO, CO. - OCTOBER 06, 2013: Tourists explored the ghost town of St. Elmo in Chaffee County, Colorado including the Stark Brothers Store and Post Office, center. The town at 9,961 feet was founded in 1880 and once had a population of 2,000 people when gold and silver mining was booming. Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post

It’s rare to find an open general store in a ghost town, but you will in St. Elmo near Mount Princeton, southwest of Buena Vista. In its heyday around 1890, some 2,000 people lived in the town. Many of them worked in roughly 150 mines dotting the hillsides. The railroad was extended below the Continental Divide into the Gunnison Valley, making the town an important railroad hub.

St. Elmo followed the typical trajectory of former mining towns: years of decline and then near desertion when the railroad stopped. Legend has it the last of St. Elmo’s full-time residents rode the last train out of town in 1926.

Tourism revived the area and many buildings were preserved. The St. Elmo General store is open throughout summer. Visitors can buy antiques, souvenirs and refreshments.

Passenger cars can easily reach the ghost town on County Road 162. Area roads get rougher after that, though sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicles can continue to Tincup Pass. There are hiking and mountain biking trails in the area.

Summitville

This town, built at 11,000 feet elevation, offers a different side of Colorado’s mining history. One of the earliest booms in the San Juan Mountains began here in 1876 in the rugged country south of the towns of Del Norte and South Fork. By 1890 there were as many as 1,500 residents and nine mills. Slow decline followed as the mills were shuttered and the post office closed in 1912.

It’s a long drive to reach this site, 30 miles up Park Creek Road from U.S. 160, but passenger cars can make it in dry weather.

Unlike other ghost towns, Summitville had a second act, and Colorado is still paying for it. A Canadian company established a pit mine here, but mismanaged it, spreading toxic chemicals to area watersheds. Today the area is a Superfund site and is known as one of the worst environmental disasters in the state’s  history.

The mining buildings are well-preserved, but so is the modern water treatment station, which is full of brackish, toxic water that should serve as a reminder of the downside of the mining booms that helped build Colorado.

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Road Trip: Ghost Towns of Colorado

If you're not careful wandering through Colorado's ghost towns you just might catch gold fever.

Popular tourist sights, challenging outdoor adventures, and lonely ghost towns await on this scenic loop through central Colorado.

During the late 19th century, gold fever roared through Colorado like wildfire, sparking instant towns. Like the mines nearby, most of the towns played out—though some still stand as ghostly reminders of the salad days. Besides ghost towns, natural wonders abound on this road trip, from towering mountains to fossil beds, from prime white water to a gorge deserving the name Royal.

Start in Colorado Springs

Head west on U.S. 24 from Colorado Springs, stopping first at the Garden of the Gods park (exit Hwy. 24 onto N 30th St.; www.gardenofgods.com ), whose towering sandstone fins and red, gravelly cliffs are spiritual places for Native Americans. Area stables offer horseback trips into the surrounding countryside. Just past the Garden of the Gods, in Manitou Springs ( www.manitousprings.org ), is the Cave of the Winds ( www.caveofthewinds.com ). Take in the cave's geological wonders on a 45-minute Discovery Tour.

At Cascade, turn off for the 19-mile (31-kilometer) toll road leading up to the 14,110-foot (4,301-meter) summit of Pikes Peak ( www.pikespeakcolorado.com ). Along the way, look for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep patrolling the alpine zone of stunted trees and shrubbery. Take a trip on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the village of Manitou Springs.

Cripple Creek

A left turn at Divide onto State Highway 67 leads you to Cripple Creek ( www.visitcripplecreek ), a former mining town where you can take a ride on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. From 1890 to 1910, some 500 mines in this area produced 22,400,000 ounces of gold. A National Historic Landmark, Cripple Creek claims a raucous mining heritage, which is faintly, though less authentically, echoed in the local casinos.

Just past Cripple Creek lies the ghost town of Victor ( www.victorcolorado.com ), which, though still inhabited, has many period buildings. Go for a stroll past the trolley depot, the Masonic Hall, and the Victor Daily Record newspaper office. The Victor Hotel is still open for business, and the local Lowell Thomas museum tells about the famous adventurer and writer who grew up in these mountains.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Back on U.S. 24, a short drive west leads to the town of Florissant and the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument ( www.nps.gov/flfo ), home to one of the world's richest deposits of fossils. Huge petrified redwood stumps and thousands of insect and plant fossils record the story of what this region was like in prehistoric times.

South Park City

Leaving the monument, climb to Wilkerson Pass at 9,127 feet (2,782 meters), where views of snowcapped peaks are visible from the visitors center. Continuing west from the pass, cross the grassy-banked South Platte River at Hartsel. About 18 miles (29 kilometers) north of the crossing, on Route 9, you'll find South Park City ( www.southparkcity.org ), a restored and re-created ghost town now operated as a museum, in Fairplay. Here you can visit the depot, filled with train memorabilia, and step inside the vintage drugstore and schoolhouse.

From Fairplay, head south on U.S. 285 to return to U.S. 24. At the town of Buena Vista ( www.buenavistacolorado.org ), follow Country Road 162 southwest for 19 miles (31 kilometers) to the ghost town of St. Elmo ( www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/saintelmo.html ). Explore the town's ghostly Main Street, peering into the windows of its frame buildings, which include the saloon, store, and several private homes. Back in Buena Vista, at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks, sign up for a whitewater rafting trip on the Arkansas River, which draws legions of rafters and kayakers in spring and summer.

From Buena Vista, head south on 285 to Highway 50 east. Five miles (eight kilometers) from the junction lies the town of Salida ( salida.com ), whose downtown historic district is crammed with attractive Victorian buildings.

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Royal Gorge

Continuing east on 50 for 47 miles (76 kilometers), you'll come to the turnoff for Royal Gorge ( www.royalgorgebridge.com ), with its “World's Highest Suspension Bridge,” a span built in 1929. Here you can ride a cable car above the gorge, or board the Incline Railway for a trip down to the Arkansas River. Not far from Royal Gorge is the Museum of Colorado Prisons ( www.prisonmuseum.org ), housed in a former women's correctional facility built in 1935.

Aiken Canyon

Ten miles (16 kilometers) beyond Cañon City, pick up Route 115 north at the town of Penrose. Get a final taste of wilderness before returning to Colorado Springs at the Aiken Canyon Preserve ( parks.state.co.us/NaturalResources/CNAP/NaturalAreasInfo/AlphabeticalListing/Pages/AikenCanyon.aspx ), which boasts the largest remaining intact foothills ecosystem of the Front Range. An area of shrublands and woodland, Aiken Canyon contains a rich diversity of wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, elk, and golden eagles.

June through September is the best time to drive this route, a loop of around 225 miles (362 kilometers) with numerous side trips bringing the total distance to about 375 miles (604 kilometers). For background information on Colorado's ghost towns, see Ghost Towns of Colorado: Your Guide to Colorado's Historic Mining Camps and Ghost Towns , by Philip Varney, Voyageur Press, 1999. Also see these websites: www.coloradoghosttowns.com/index.htm , www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/co.html , and www.fourteenernet.com/central-colorado.asp . For local weather information, see www.weather.com .

—Text by Michael Ray Taylor, adapted from National Geographic Traveler

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Travel | instant analysis of 49ers’ nfc championship comeback win over lions, travel | these 9 abandoned colorado ghost towns will give you the chills, crystal mill, st. elmo, independence among the most picturesque sites.

Holy Cross City near Mount of the Holy Cross once was home to about 300 people. It's reachable on foot via two trail or road (about 4 miles), but the road is only passable in a four-wheel-drive or off-road vehicle. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

In 1858, prospectors struck gold on Cherry Creek, and in an instant a generation of Americans and fortune seekers from abroad was bound for what would become Colorado. It worked out OK for Denver, which became the largest and most influential city in the Rockies. Thousands of other towns in Colorado weren’t so fortunate.

From 1858 until the silver crash of 1893, towns popped up almost overnight where gold or silver was found. Just as quickly, the vast majority were abandoned when the ore ran out, often in places so difficult to reach even today that you’ll wonder how the miners managed daily life.

Most of these hamlets are gone, but the mountains are littered with their crumbling remains – cabins, bunkhouses, stores and mining structures. They stand as a testament to the pioneers’ ingenuity and monuments to their often-broken dreams.

Visiting these places is akin to stepping back in time. Some you can reach on dirt roads passable in the family sedan. Others require a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Still others remain deep in the wilderness, reachable by lacing up a pair of sturdy hiking boots. Each has its own unique story of success and then failure.

The ghost town of Indepence is well preserved, thanks to the Aspen Historical Society. You can wander around and even into some of the old miners cabins. (Photo by Jennifer Broome/Special to The Denver Post)

This is your guide to touring some of Colorado’s best-preserved ghost towns. Keep in mind that old mines are dangerous and can be home to explosive or poisonous gases. People have died falling into shafts, so explore with care and don’t get too close.

Bachelor Loop, Creede

The last great mining boom in Colorado was centered in the San Juan Mountains. Silver was struck here in 1890, and within two years there were dozens of mines and boom towns around what is today the town of Creede. The frenzy of activity was short-lived. In 1893 the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was repealed to resolidify the gold standard; the federal government stopped buying silver and the mines collapsed.

Unlike many of Colorado’s old mining towns, Creede itself is still there, a tourist hotspot. The Creede Repertory Theatre draws enthusiasts from across the country each summer. You can drive the scenic 17-mile Bachelor Loop above town and take a trip past some of the best-preserved mine sites in Colorado. There are several interpretive signs and stops of interest. Those with four-wheel-drive can take side roads deeper into the terrain. Cyclists are encouraged to take the loop counter-clockwise, tackling most of the climbing in the first 4 miles.

The race to preserve the historic Crystal Mill in the Elk Mountains near Aspen is on. A foundation is trying to raise $10 million to save it. (Crystal Mill Foundation)

Crystal Mill

This picturesque old mill, perched on the side of a waterfall, is one of the most Instagrammed spots in Colorado. The mill was built in 1893 to support the Sheep Mountain Tunnel mine near the present town of Marble. It generated compressed air that powered tools used by the miners. The mine limped on until 1917 when it closed. A few people still spend summers in cabins in the nearby hamlet of Crystal, once home to about 500 people.

You need a sturdy vehicle – preferably four-wheel-drive or off-highway – to get to the mill from Marble. Otherwise it’s a 4-mile hike each way along the road. The site’s beauty is worth every step. Heed all signs marking private property. (Note: It costs $10 to access the private property from which some of the most iconic photos are taken.)

Lynnea Rappold looks inside an old boiler left behind after efforts to tunnel into Pikes Peak were abandoned years ago. It's a hike of about 2 miles to the Ghost Town Hollow site from the Pikes Peak Highway. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

Ghost Town Hollow

You’ll need a pair of hiking shoes to reach the remnants of this settlement at about 11,800 feet elevation on Pikes Peak. The cabin foundations and old boilers are all that remain of an effort to blast a tunnel into the heart of the mountain in search of valuable metals. A fatal explosion terminated the endeavor, and the mine entrance was sealed about a dozen years ago to keep people out.

To get there drive the Pikes Peak Highway ($5-$15 per person age 6 or older; discounts per carload) to mile marker 14 and park at the Elk Park trailhead. It’s an easy 1.4-mile downhill hike to an intersection. Turn right at the sign for the Oil Creek Tunnel and it’s a half-mile uphill to the ghost town.

Holy Cross City

This town gets its name from nearby Mount of the Holy Cross. The town itself was once home to 300 people and had a post office and hotel, but it was abandoned by the 1890s. Semi-intact buildings and rusted boilers and other equipment remain. You can get there by driving the original road built in 1883, now known as Holy Cross Jeep Trail 759. Note that the U.S. Forest Service says it is one of the more difficult four-wheel-drive roads in Colorado due to rocks and boulders.

You can hike the road, 4 miles each way, to each the site. For a quieter experience hike from the Fancy Lakes Trailhead into the Holy Cross Wilderness and turn right at the sign for the ghost town, a round-trip distance of 7.5 miles. If time permits take a detour to Fancy Lake, a gorgeous alpine lake that makes a great stop for lunch or an overnight camp.

The remains of Independence, a mining town founded in about 1880, still stand at 10,830 feet on Independence Pass. In 1882 it was home to about 1,500 people and boasted more than 40 stores. The town was all but abandoned by 1900. (Photo by Jennifer Broome/Special to The Denver Post)

Independence

Independence Pass is one of the highest and prettiest paved roads in Colorado, connecting Aspen with the rest of the world to the east in the warmer months. The name comes from this town founded in 1879 high in the snowy tundra at about 11,000 feet. By 1882 the town had a population of 1,500, 40 businesses and three post offices. When the gold ran out most people fled this harsh climate.

A few hung on until 1899, when one of the worst snowstorms in Colorado history cut them off and they faced starvation. Homes were dismantled to make skis and residents fled Independence, never to return. The remaining buildings – eight largely intact – have been preserved by the Aspen Historical Society. Interpretive signs share the town’s history.

You can’t miss the ghost town while driving on Independence Pass; it’s right along the highway.

There are numerous mines and ghost town remains along Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, including equipment that spans dizzying chasms. You can see much of it from U.S. 550. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

Mayflower Gulch

Pull out your hiking shoes. This hike, which starts off Fremont Pass between Leadville and Copper Mountain, leads into a stunning mountain cirque littered with mining remains. The trail follows the road built in the 1890s when miners created the Boston Mine. Some $500,000 in gold and silver were produced and a robust village formed. But before long it was abandoned as the ore was deemed to be impure.

It’s a popular hike, an easy 3 miles to the old town itself. You can continue on a fine trail higher into the basin to discover more mining buildings.

There are numerous mines and ghost town remains along Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton, including equipment that spans dizzying chasms. You can see much of it from U.S. 550. (Photo by R. Scott Rappold/Special to The Denver Post)

Red Mountain Pass

There are too many mines and ghost towns to name on this stunning mountain pass between the towns of Ouray and Silverton. They are built along perilous cliffs, with equipment spanning dizzying chasms. Most of the mining occurred between 1882 and 1893, and the towns and hamlets are victims of the same silver crash that closed so many mines.

You can see most of the buildings from the road, U.S. 550, but you may want to park and wander around the townsite of Ironton, where some residents clung on until the 1970s. The trails and preserved buildings are the result of work by the Red Mountain Task Force, which purchased 8,500 acres to preserve and installed interpretive signs that share the area’s history with visitors.

ST. ELMO, CO. - OCTOBER 06, 2013: Tourists explored the ghost town of St. Elmo in Chaffee County, Colorado including the Stark Brothers Store and Post Office, center. The town at 9,961 feet was founded in 1880 and once had a population of 2,000 people when gold and silver mining was booming. Photo By Karl Gehring/The Denver Post

It’s rare to find an open general store in a ghost town, but you will in St. Elmo near Mount Princeton, southwest of Buena Vista. In its heyday around 1890, some 2,000 people lived in the town. Many of them worked in roughly 150 mines dotting the hillsides. The railroad was extended below the Continental Divide into the Gunnison Valley, making the town an important railroad hub.

St. Elmo followed the typical trajectory of former mining towns: years of decline and then near desertion when the railroad stopped. Legend has it the last of St. Elmo’s full-time residents rode the last train out of town in 1926.

Tourism revived the area and many buildings were preserved. The St. Elmo General store is open throughout summer. Visitors can buy antiques, souvenirs and refreshments.

Passenger cars can easily reach the ghost town on County Road 162. Area roads get rougher after that, though sturdy four-wheel-drive vehicles can continue to Tincup Pass. There are hiking and mountain biking trails in the area.

Summitville

It’s a long drive to reach this site, 30 miles up Park Creek Road from U.S. 160, but passenger cars can make it in dry weather.

Unlike other ghost towns, Summitville had a second act, and Colorado is still paying for it. A Canadian company established a pit mine here, but mismanaged it, spreading toxic chemicals to area watersheds. Today the area is a Superfund site and is known as one of the worst environmental disasters in the state’s  history.

The mining buildings are well-preserved, but so is the modern water treatment station, which is full of brackish, toxic water that should serve as a reminder of the downside of the mining booms that helped build Colorado.

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Most People Have No Idea There’s An Underwater Ghost Town Hiding In Colorado

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Annie is a freelance writer, content editor, and marketing whiz with a background in broadcasting and a passion for chicken nachos.

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It is no secret that there are many Colorado ghost towns (more than 1,500 to be exact). Most of these abandoned towns – which were primarily homesteads for miners and/or railroad workers – can still be visited today, except for Montgomery, which was a unique and historic town that has been submerged in water. Come along as we explore this fascinating underwater town in Colorado.

ghost town village colorado

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ghost town village colorado

So, did you know about Montgomery, Colorado? Would you agree that it is one of the coolest Colorado ghost towns? What are your favorite Colorado ghost towns? Have any other interesting Colorado Springs history to share? Are there any other intriguing abandoned places in Colorado? Tell us!

Looking for Colorado ghost towns that you can actually explore? Then you’ll want to embark on this Colorado ghost towns road trip . And if it’s Colorado mysteries you’re craving, check out these unsolved mysteries in Colorado that continue to baffle people to this day.

While you’re out and about you may get hungry so take a look at our ultimate list of 50 on-the-go food ideas.

If you’re still in the mood for more Centennial State adventures, take a look at this video about beautiful Hanging Lake and Spouting Rock:

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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More to Explore

More colorado adventures.

Where can we find other abandoned places in Colorado?

  • Gothic located just outside of Crested Butte was Founded in the 1920s and still has several well-preserved buildings.
  • Ashcroft, located about 10 miles south of Aspen, is a former mining town that now has just a handful of abandoned log homes.
  • Capitol City located near Lake City is now a shadow of its former self with only a few structures including the former post office.

Read on to learn more about some of the many other fascinating abandoned places in Colorado.

Where can we find historic landmarks in Colorado?

  • Union Station in Denver has been the city’s central transportation hub and railway station since it was established in 1881.
  • Bent's Old Fort in La Junta was once the only major white American settlement on the Santa Fe Trail between Missouri and México.
  • Pike’s Peak is named after American explorer Zebulon Pike who sighted it in the early 1800s.

Read on to learn more about some of the many other wonderful historic landmarks in Colorado.

Where can we find haunted places in Colorado?

  • The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park has supposedly been the site of scores of paranormal activities beginning in the 1970s.
  • The Molly Brown House in Denver is supposedly haunted by piano keys moving on their own, and other strange events.
  • The Central City Masonic Cemetery in Central City is believed to be visited by a young woman in black dress leaving flowers on one of the graves.

Read on to learn more about some of the many other creepy haunted places in Colorado.

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Colorado ghost towns: Their past, present and future in the Rocky Mountains

ghost town village colorado

Colorado's history in mining, milling and farming is on full display throughout the Rocky Mountains, as many of the remnants of towns that once were remain on the hillsides and nestled in valleys.

These ghost towns are either completely abandoned or contain a tiny fraction of its original population. It's no surprise that these places have sparked curiosities and become destinations for explorers and historians.

abandoned mines thumbnail.jpg

Colorado’s abandoned mines pose many dangers. This program works to protect them

Here is a list of some of Colorado's ghost towns, from their beginnings to their endings:

Ashcroft, a silver mining camp that is now a ghost town, was about 10 miles up Castle Creek Road from Aspen.

For a time, Ashcroft actually rivaled Aspen as a growing town.

In the spring of 1880, prospectors Charles B. Culver and W. F. Coxhead left Leadville to look for silver in the Castle Creek Valley. They eventually gathered a group in the area, which they deemed Castle Forks City. Within just a couple weeks, they formed a Miner’s Protective Association, built a courthouse and laid out streets, according to the Aspen Historical Society .

ghost town village colorado

Three years later, in 1883, the camp was home for about 2,000 people, which was bigger than Aspen at the time and closer to the railroad in Crested Butte.

But soon the mines ran dry and strikes in Aspen lured investors and workers away from the area. Just 100 people remained in Ashcroft by 1885, the historical society said. At the turn of the century, only a few men were left.

The 10th Mountain Division used Ashcroft for its mountaineering training during the summer of 1942.

Ashcroft

In 1948, Stuart Mace, a World War II veteran, decided to devote his life to protecting the area. The Aspen Historical Society joined him in this effort in 1974 and Ashcroft became a National Register Historic Site.

Several historical buildings, including a saloon, post office and hotel still stand.

Capitol City

Several miles up the 4x4 Henson Creek and Engineer Pass road is Capitol City, which was once named Galena City.

At one point, there were dreams of establishing this as Colorado's capital — a goal for George S. Lee, who wanted to invest in the state's future. Within the area, he built a home in the 1870s, as well as the Henson Creek smelter and sawmill.

Capitol City

The name of the town was changed to Capitol City, but it, of course, never became the state's capitol.

However, Capitol City did have 200 acres that encompassed hotels, restaurants, saloons, a post office, a schoolhouse and several homes. The population peaked at 800, according to Lake City .

That dropped alongside the price of silver. Today, the old post office and Lee's Smelter Stack are all that's left.

Visitors should be aware that there are private homes and private property in this area, and trespassing is illegal.

Capitol City

At nearly 12,000 feet, Carson is a high-altitude ghost town near the Continental Divide. The ghost town of Old Carson is nearby, on the other side of the divide. Neither were easily accessible, which would ultimately contribute to their downfalls.

Carson ghost town

The two old mining camps, which focused mainly on gold and silver, may be close together, but Carson is "particularly well-preserved," according to Lake City . Both ghost towns provide views of the Weminuche Wilderness Area and the Rio Grande Pyramid.

Between the long journey to the camps from Lake City, and the brutal winters up at 12,000 feet, the conditions took a toll and the town was deserted.

You can visit Carson by taking Wager Gulch Trail on a 4x4 vehicle, bicycle or by hiking from Lake City. It's off a side spur of the Alpine Loop. Be aware that Wager Gulch Trail is rough.

East of Greeley, Dearfield was the only all-Black settlement in Colorado in the early 1900s, when more than 700 people settled in. Dearfield was founded by O.T. (Oliver Toussaint) Jackson, an African American who worked for several governors as a messenger.

Dearfield

“He wanted to start a Black farming community,” said Dr. George Junne, an Africana Studies professor at the University of Northern Colorado. “He started off in another community and it didn't work out, so the governor at that time helped him proceed to get the land that is now Dearfield.”

However the town vanished during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years.

Today, only three buildings remain: a gas station, diner, and the founder' home.

dearfield.png

The Black American West Museum in Denver is currently working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the History Colorado Center to preserve the site.

“There's a lot of things that are involved in this work,” said Junne, noting how many others have worked alongside him in an effort to preserve Dearfield’s history.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. John Hickenlooper joined Rep. Ken Buck and Rep. Joe Neguse in introducing legislation last year aimed at getting the Interior Department to conduct a study on Dearfield.

dearfield.png

Federal government to evaluate national significance of Dearfield, Colorado

“Dearfield is a testament to Black Americans who shaped Colorado’s history,” Hickenlooper said. “We must honor their legacy and educate future generations by protecting the Dearfield Homestead.”

"America must always be mindful of its past," Buck said. "We cannot properly do that if we do not preserve physical elements of our history. I appreciate the important work that the University of Northern Colorado and the Black American West Museum have done to preserve Dearfield's history thus far, and resources from the National Park Service will help this work continue for years to come."

Douglass City

Douglass City was a railroad — not mining — town. And it was known to be a rowdy one.

In the early 1880s, men who lived there were building the Hagerman Tunnel, trestles and the Colorado Midland Railway tracks.

A sign at the Douglass City site says it was a one street "city." The sign explains that at the Dance Hall, "the Professor played the piano while the Ladies of the evening, too jaded for Leadville, entertained and took the laborers' money."

The last sentence on the sign reads: "The wild city was the scene of drinking, shooting, fighting, knifing and other innocent pleasures."

The town reportedly did not have any schools or churches.

Today, it is a beautiful place to see wildflowers in the Sawatch Range.

The Town of Dunton was established in 1885 about 12 miles northwest of Rico. As the town built up as a mining camp, people established cabins and saloons for about a mile along the West Dolores River in a valley between modern-day Telluride and Dolores.

The town was originally a mining camp and those mines — the Emma, Smuggler and American mines — were about half a mile down the stream from the community, according to the Dunton Destinations .

Dunton Town Sign_1478566346729_49299874_ver1.0.jpeg

The population was less than 50 until the Emma Mine was sold to Eastern investors in 1897 and the town expanded. The population likely peaked around 1905 with between 260 and 300 people.

This boom did not last long, though. Many people left by 1910 and, by 1918, Dunton was deserted.

That year, Joe and Dominica Roscio purchased the entire town and patented mining claims to operate the property as a cattle ranch. By the 1970s and 1980s, it operated as a dude ranch, which closed by the early 1990s, according to the Dunton Destinations .

Emma Gold Mining Company in Dunton

In 1994, Christoph Henkel, the current owner, bought the town and spent the next seven years renovating it.

Today, Dunton — now known as Dunton Hot Springs — is a small and exclusive resort that, according to its website , "thrives on contradictions; hand-hewn log cabins exquisitely furnished, a life-worn saloon serving food of startling quality, lung-torturing trails followed by pampering massages, sensuous hot springs beneath shimmering snow banks."

It has 13 luxury cabins and the entire town can be rented for weddings.

ghost town village colorado

See the ghost town that's now a luxury resort

Gilman was established in the early 1880s around 8,950 feet in Eagle County.

The first mines on the nearby Battle Mountain opened in 1879, around the silver boom. Miners from Leadville began to explore nearby mountains, which led them to the land that would become Gilman after the name of the superintendent of the Iron Mask Mine, according to Western Mining History .

Gilman

The mines were built in an "unusual and difficult" position on the side of a steep cliff above the Eagle River Canyon, the organization said.

The town was bustling in 1885 and 1886 with more than 1,500 residents. It had hotels, a school, an opera house, multiple businesses and a newspaper. Fast forward a few years and just 442 people remained by the 1890 Census.

Tragedy struck in August 1900, when a fire destroyed much of Gilman — an estimated loss of $31,000. According to the reports of the fire, nobody died.

Gilman

But the residents persevered and by the 1910s, miners were focusing on zinc, as the price of the metal was on the price. This expanded to include copper and silver.

The mines closed in the mid-1980s. The town, now abandoned, was designated as an EPA Superfund site in 1986 due to the toxic pollutants, which includes contamination of groundwater.

Gilman is completely on private property and off-limits to the public.

In central Colorado, about four miles outside Lake City, a neglected mining town is decaying. But even though it's been decades since this boom town was producing millions in minerals, visitors can still see the homes, the mining equipment and even the outhouses left behind.

Henson

"The Ute and Ulay mines were some of the best known silver and lead producers in Colorado," according to ColoradoPreservation.org . "Between 1874 and 1903, the mines were responsible for $12 million worth of minerals which today would amount to more than $280 million in value."

The mines are in the ghost town of Henson.

The website says the mines were largely responsible for the development of nearby Lake City.

ghost town village colorado

This Colorado ghost town still has homes

More than a dozen homes are still standing, including residential cabins, a blacksmith shop, a boarding house, a red-cedar water tank, and assayer’s office.

The mill was hydroelectrically powered by Henson Creek until the Hidden Treasure dam burst in 1973.

Ute-Ulay Mill

County Road 20 takes drivers right by the site. The road is part of the Alpine Loop on the Engineer Pass side. Hundreds of people in ATVs, Jeeps and other vehicles drive the scenic loop every day in the summer.

Visitors are welcome to hike the road, but are asked to stay out of the buildings.

Ute-Ulay Mill

Independence

The Town of Independence, which is 16 miles east of Aspen, was possibly named because gold was discovered there on the Fourth of July in 1879.

The Aspen Historical Society says a tent city sprung up that summer and by the following year, about 300 people called Independence home. It was the first mining site in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Farwell Mining Company acquired most of the leading mines in the area by 1881, and by that summer, the population of Independence grew to 500 and had grocery stores, boarding houses and saloons. The following year, the town had more than 40 businesses and the population had grown to 1,500.

This was a short-lived boom though and miners were drawn away from Independence with the promise of better work and pay in Aspen.

The Aspen Historical Society said more than $190,000 worth of gold was produced between 1881 and 1882. A few years later, only 100 citizens remained.

During a storm in the winter of 1899, supply routes to Independence were cut off and the miners, who were already running out of food, had to dismantle their homes to construct 75 pairs of skis and escape to Aspen.

Denver7 | Discover Colorado

Colorado ghost towns: Independence

Skip ahead to 1975 and the Aspen Historical Society was granted a permit by the U.S. Forest Service to maintain the site. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places to protect the structures that remained. The preservation efforts truly began in the 1980s.

There are interpretive signs and trails in the area. While it is free to visit, a $5 donation is suggested.

In the 1880s, nearly 2,000 people settled in the town of Forest City, later renamed St. Elmo.

St Elmo

Many came in search of gold and silver, while others came to run boarding houses, stores and other businesses. At one point, there were 150 patented mining claims in the St. Elmo area. The Mary Murphy Mine was the largest and most successful of them.

It recovered more than $60 million worth of gold while it was in operation.

The mine stopped operations in the 1920s and the population slowly declined afterward.

Today, the Miner's Exchange may be the most well-known and photographed building in town. It was once a saloon, but is now the St. Elmo General Store. In summer, thousands of tourists flock here for snacks and drinks.

While St. Elmo is called a ghost town, people still live there and it remains pretty accessible. There's also the Ghost Town Guest House , a Bed & Breakfast that is open yearround and a general store that sells souvenirs. The road up is unpaved, but most cars should be able to drive it without a problem.

ghost town village colorado

PHOTOS: Visit an 1880s Colorado ghost town

In its heyday, the Town of Tomboy, about five miles from Telluride, was home to 1,000 residents. It was established in 1894 at 11,509 feet, according to Western Mining History .

Tomboy Mine

The settlement included a school, store, stable and cabins.

The Tomboy Mine produced gold ore in 1894 before it was sold in 1897 for $2 million.

Tomboy ghost town

Western Mining History said "this was one of Colorado's largest alpine company mining camps, a significant community that lasted decades."

Violent crime was a recurring event here though — in September 1919, four miners were executed at the mine by a group of men during an argument.

The mine closed in 1927 and the residents flooded out, leaving behind several buildings and mining relics, according to Telluride Mountain Village .

Visitors who swing by in July and August will be treated to wildflowers on the town's north side. It can be reached by hiking or driving up Imogene Pass road (a Jeep road).

ghost town village colorado

Colorado ghost towns: Tomboy Mining Camp

Vicksburg and Winfield

In Colorado's early mining days, Vicksburg was the second-largest town in Clear Creek Canyon with about 600 to 700 people, according to the City of Leadville . (This is the Clear Creek Canyon between Leadville and Buena Vista, not the one along the Front Range.)

Vicksburg was initially found when some burros — or donkeys — wandered away from their owners and led the prospectors to gold in the creek bed.

Vicksburg

It had several buildings, including a post office, school and two billiard halls. Today, you can find a small museum open on the weekends during the summer.

A little farther down the canyon is Winfield, which was once home to several mining camps in the late 1880s. Its 120 acres were split into small parcels, which were given away for free to anybody who wanted to build on them, according to the City of Leadville .

Winfield

Skip ahead nine years and the town had attracted 1,500 people and had three saloons, three stores, a post office, a miller, a smelter, a church and a school. Multiple mines were within walking distance, including Crescent Mining Camp, Tasmania Mine, Swiss Boy Mine, Fortune Mine, and Banker Mine.

The school and a cabin, now used as a museum, still remain.

MORE SPOOKY TALES: Exploring the eerie, creepy, and possibly paranormal places of Colorado | Oct. 28, 2022 Bone appétit: The story of Alferd Packer, Colorado’s most infamous, yet beloved, cannibal | Oct. 30, 2020 A dive into the most popular, wildest conspiracies surrounding the Denver International Airport | Feb. 27, 2020 The Marijuana Mansion: The ‘highest’ haunted house around | Oct. 22, 2021 A dead servant and a ghost cat: Is Denver's Molly Brown house haunted? | Oct. 30, 2019 Denver's popular Cheesman Park is actually a former cemetery, and some of the bodies are still there | Oct. 30, 2019 An 1898 crime and the ghost story that followed: Inside Denver's haunted Oxford Hotel | Oct. 29, 2018 'The most spirited hotel in Denver': A look inside the Patterson Inn | Oct. 29, 2018 Colorado's haunted history: The Denver Press Club | Oct. 31, 2018 13th Floor Haunted House actress peels back curtain on the work behind the scare | Oct. 26, 2018

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Hahns Peak Colorado

Hahns Peak Village, Colorado

Hahns Peak is a tiny, former mining village north of Steamboat Springs. Combined with Clark just to the south, the area has a few restaurants, two general stores, and several lodging options. It sits at the foot of Hahns Peak, an extinct volcano , and across from Steamboat Lake.

The town began as a mining camp around 1865. It boomed in 1876, garnering it the first post office in Routt County, as well a stint as the county seat. Hahns Peak Historical Society preserves 15 of the town’s earliest buildings including a schoolhouse and historic cabin. There is also a museum.

Hahns Peak Mountain Colorado

Main Attractions

State Parks – Both Peal Lake and Steamboat Lake state parks are popular year-round for recreation.

Routt National Forest – Hahns Peak Lake is among numerous sections of the national forest near Hahns Peak.

Hahns Peak Lake – This is a little more secluded than Steamboat Lake, but not nearly as big. It’s easy to get to with a minimal fee for parking your vehicle. It’s run by the Routt National Forest.

Year-round recreation is readily available, with 2 state parks and Routt National Forest all close by. Water sports, groomed cross-country skiing, snowmobile, horseback riding, ATV, hunting, and hiking.

  • Steamboat and Pearl Lake state parks have 188 and 36 sites respectively.
  • Free dispersed car camping can be found in Routt National Forest.
  • Hahns Peak Lake Recreation Area has a campground.
  • Read about the camping near Steamboat Springs, Clark and Oak Creek .
  • The three larger lakes in the area, Hahns Peak Lake, Pearl Lake, and Steamboat Lake allow fishing for a day-use fee.

Accommodations

Special events.

  • Wooden Ski Rendezvous – February
  • Coureur des Bois Cross Country Ski Marathon – March
  • North Routt Chili Cook Off – May
  • 4th of July Ice Cream Special – July
  • Summer Arts & Crafts Fair – August
  • Pre-Thanksgiving Community Dinner – November

Hahns Peak Cafe

Activities near Hahns Peak

ATV/Horseback Riding/Snowmobiling:

  • Steamboat Lake Outpost (8mi)

Federal Lands:

  • Hahns Peak Lake
  • Mount Zirkel Wilderness
  • Routt National Forest
  • Hahns Peak Museum

State Parks:

  • Pearl Lake State Park (3mi)
  • Steamboat Lake State Park (1mi)
  • Clark (6mi)
  • Steamboat Springs (25mi)

Latest in Hahns Peak

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I hiked 8 miles to an eerie ghost town filled with crumbling homes and felt like I'd traveled back in time

  • I hiked Homestead Meadows, a trail in Colorado that leads to abandoned buildings built in the 1800s.
  • I explored two out of eight homesteads in the area; seeing them all would have required a 15-mile hike.
  • It was like stepping back in time. In one house, I found a rusted Pepsi can; in another, a mold-covered bathtub.

Tucked in the back of pine and aspen forests in Estes Park, Colorado, is Homestead Meadows — a ghost town from the 1800s.

ghost town village colorado

Source: Uncover Colorado

The deserted town is the result of the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed people to claim ownership of land to build homes and communities, according to Uncover Colorado.

ghost town village colorado

On a recent trip to Estes Park, I set out to visit Homestead Meadows. The area's first resident settled there in 1889, and its last residents left in 1952, Uncover Colorado reported.

ghost town village colorado

The trail is located in the back of a camping area called Hermit Park Open Space. I paid a $9 entry fee to access the area, taking a 6.5-mile hike that would lead to the abandoned ghost town.

ghost town village colorado

After driving down a winding path, I made it to the trailhead. My goal was to hike three miles to the Irvin Homestead, which is the most complete homestead in the area, according to Outdoor Project.

ghost town village colorado

Source: Outdoor Project

As I started the hike, I found myself completely alone in a cloud of thick fog. It felt like stepping back in time since the trails I was walking along were once old wagon roads.

ghost town village colorado

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of the men living in Homestead Meadows would travel to the nearby town of Lyons for work during the week. Each weekend, they'd make the long journey home back to their families, according to Uncover Colorado.

ghost town village colorado

After a little over an hour of hiking, I arrived only to be met with disappointment. The singular building I saw was a collapsed wood structure.

ghost town village colorado

Fearing there wouldn't be any other remaining parts of the homestead, which once had a house, sawmill, barn, bathhouse, and outhouse, I searched around the area. Through the fog, I spotted another building.

ghost town village colorado

This building was still standing and in better condition than the first. The house would've been built by the landowner and settler, Frank Irvin. Later, R. J. Nettleton moved onto the homestead to operate a sawmill and raise rabbits, according to Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails.

ghost town village colorado

Source: Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails

Inside the home, there were four rooms, and items from its previous residents scattered the wooden house.

ghost town village colorado

A rusting Welch's grape juice can and Vernor's Ginger Ale can sat on the mantel. It was incredible to think that the settlers not only built the buildings themselves but also survived Colorado's harsh winters in the uninsulated homes.

ghost town village colorado

In another room of the house, there was an old porcelain-faced cooking stove.

ghost town village colorado

Life wouldn't have been easy for the settlers, whose jobs ranged from farming and selling timber to raising cattle, according to Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails.

ghost town village colorado

Outside of the second home, I noticed a trail leading into a forested area. I explored the area and discovered another abandoned building.

ghost town village colorado

I was inside the Irvin bathhouse, where water once flowed from a nearby spring. The structure was slanted and decaying, and today the bathtub is the only thing that remains.

ghost town village colorado

There are eight different homesteads in the area, according to the USDA Forest Service. But a hike to all eight would be more than 15 miles — a journey I wasn't prepared for.

ghost town village colorado

Source: USDA Forest Service

So I decided to trek back to my car. This time, I took a slightly different route that led to one final homestead on my hike.

ghost town village colorado

While I saw just two homesteads, the decaying buildings helped provide a glimpse into what life was like in Colorado decades ago.

ghost town village colorado

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COMMENTS

  1. Colorado Ghost Towns + Map

    Colorado is full of fascinating ghost towns located throughout the state, mostly up in the Rocky Mountains. There are certainly some very well-preserved ones, as well as old communities that are disappearing more each year.

  2. List of ghost towns in Colorado

    The location of the State of Colorado in the United States. This is a list of some notable ghost towns in the U.S. State of Colorado. A ghost town is a former community that now has no year-round residents or less than 1% of its peak population. Colorado has over 1,500 ghost towns, although visible remains of only about 640 still exist.

  3. 13 Abandoned Ghost Towns in Colorado and How to Get There

    1. Ghost Towns of the Rockies Private Tour There's no better way to explore some of Colorado's Old West Gold Rush towns than on this private tour through the Rockies. This 6-hour private driving tour includes time to visit and explore some of the most historic and haunted ghost towns in the state.

  4. 11 Must-Visit Ghost Towns in Colorado

    Best Places to Stay To reach the Colorado ghost town known as Animas Fork, rent an ATV or other four-wheel drive vehicles in Silverton. Located at 11,200 feet, this high elevation town was founded in 1873. Residents in the late 1880s probably fled the town due to its frequent avalanches and brutal winter snowstorms.

  5. 10 Ghost Towns You Can Visit in Colorado

    10 Ghost Towns You Can Visit in Colorado By Aimee Heckel Updated on 09/26/19 Colorado is lined with ghost towns. Many of these abandoned communities are echoes of the gold rush fever that struck the state in the late 19th century. These towns, mostly in the high mountains, were once a bustling, strong sector in Colorado 's economy.

  6. 15 Ghost Towns In Colorado

    2. St. Elmo. Image Credits: https://millefiorifavoriti.blogspot.com. Step into the eerie streets of St. Elmo and get ready to discover a hauntingly captivating experience. As you wander through the Colorado ghost town's buildings and dusty streets, a sense of mystery and intrigue surrounds you.

  7. 21 Colorado Ghost Towns Where You Can Experience the Wild West

    Ashcroft is the largest ghost town in Colorado. At its peak, in the late 1800s after a silver boom, Ashcroft had almost 2,500 residents and was bigger than Aspen. ***. Hopefully, this list of ghost towns in Colorado has inspired you to visit a few of them!

  8. Colorado Ghost Towns

    Colorado ghost towns offer a peek in the foggy windows of a once-rowdy brothel, an ATV trek on roads no one bothered to pave on their way out of town and stories of intense standoffs in gulches will remind you why this was the Wild West. St. Elmo, a Colorado ghost town near Buena Vista By: Colorado.com Staff Writer Updated: May 19, 2023

  9. Abandoned Colorado ghost towns that will give you the chills

    June 21, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. In 1858, prospectors struck gold on Cherry Creek, and in an instant a generation of Americans and fortune seekers from abroad was bound for what would become Colorado ...

  10. Ashcroft Ghost Town

    181 reviews #14 of 86 things to do in Aspen Ghost Towns Write a review About Located eleven miles up Castle Creek Road, the silver mining ghost town features the restored remains of several historic buildings, including the Blue Mirror Saloon, a post office, and a hotel.

  11. Road Trip: Ghost Towns of Colorado -- National Geographic

    Popular tourist sights, challenging outdoor adventures, and lonely ghost towns await on this scenic loop through central Colorado. During the late 19th century, gold fever roared through...

  12. Mapped Guide to Colorado's Must-See Ghost Towns

    The state of Colorado is littered with ghost towns. There are over 1,500 registered sites with over 600 still having some remains from their previous occupants. The boom and bust of most of...

  13. Which ghost towns are near what Colorado towns?

    Which ghost towns are near what Colorado towns? October 27, 2022 By // by Matt Thomas Facebook Twitter Visiting one of Colorado's spooky ghost towns is a bucket list item for many. While few actually expect to see ghosts, nearly everyone who goes can appreciate the sightseeing opportunity of exploring abandoned former towns.

  14. Gothic, CO Ghost Town

    Gothic is an impressive ghost town surrounded by the West Elk Mountains, secluded just north of "Colorado's last great ski town". It's accessible year round, but easiest when the snow melts off. A handful of original structures remain in this picturesque, nearly all but deserted, townsite.

  15. 7 ghost towns to visit in Colorado

    St. Elmo is located southwest of Buena Vista off of Colorado Road 162. According to St. Elmo town history, the town was officially founded in 1880. It was considered to be a main area for mining ...

  16. These 9 abandoned Colorado ghost towns will give you the chills

    These 9 abandoned Colorado ghost towns will give you the chills Crystal Mill, St. Elmo, Independence among the most picturesque sites Holy Cross City near Mount of the Holy Cross once was...

  17. Ashcroft, Colorado

    Ashcroft is an extinct mining town located in Pitkin County, Colorado, United States.The silver mining camp was founded as Castle Forks City in the spring of 1880. A post office named Ashcroft operated at the site from August 12, 1880, until August 5, 1881, when the name was changed to Chloride.The Chloride post office operated until January 3, 1882 when the name was changed back to Ashcroft.

  18. Gilman

    810. John Clinton couldn't believe his luck. The settlement he was developing near Redcliff, CO had revealed two vertical chimneys filled with both silver and gold. Business was booming, and by ...

  19. Montgomery Is A Cool Abandoned Underwater Town In Colorado

    It is no secret that there are many Colorado ghost towns (more than 1,500 to be exact). Most of these abandoned towns - which were primarily homesteads for miners and/or railroad workers - can still be visited today, except for Montgomery, which was a unique and historic town that has been submerged in water.

  20. Dearfield, Colorado

    Dearfield is an extinct town and a historically black majority settlement in Weld County, Colorado, United States.It is 30 miles (48 km) east of Greeley.The town was formed by Oliver Toussaint Jackson, who desired to create a colony for African Americans. In 1910, Jackson, a successful businessman from Boulder, filed on the homestead that later became the town and began to advertise for ...

  21. Colorado ghost towns: Their past, present and future in the ...

    Posted: 10:36 AM, Oct 31, 2023. Updated: 2:25 PM, Nov 07, 2023. By: Stephanie Butzer , Deb Stanley. Colorado ghost towns: Tomboy & St. Elmo. Colorado's history in mining, milling and farming is on full display throughout the Rocky Mountains, as many of the remnants of towns that once were remain on the hillsides and nestled in valleys.

  22. Hahns Peak Village, Colorado

    The town began as a mining camp around 1865. It boomed in 1876, garnering it the first post office in Routt County, as well a stint as the county seat. Hahns Peak Historical Society preserves 15 of the town's earliest buildings including a schoolhouse and historic cabin. There is also a museum. Hahns Peak is seen from Steamboat Lake.

  23. Photos Show a Ghost Town Near Estes Park, Colorado

    Tucked in the back of pine and aspen forests in Estes Park, Colorado, is Homestead Meadows — a ghost town from the 1800s. A structure on the Homestead Meadows Trail. Monica...