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Do you know best abandoned mines in Colorado?

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Answer # 1 #

Some of these towns, like Breckenridge, Leadville and Idaho Springs, remain some of Colorado’s top destinations, while the not so lucky faded into some of the coolest ghost towns of America. Visiting these eerily quiet spots revives Colorado’s boom time as modern-day adventurers wander through abandoned streets once teeming with rambunctious saloons, outlaw showdowns and a lucrative industry that bolstered — and built — the West.

Here are a few of the state's most accessible options, where there are still buildings to see. Be careful. Many of the abandoned buildings are unsafe to enter, and many are privately owned or protected by a local or state historical society. Taking souvenirs is strictly prohibited. Take all the photos you like, though.

Independence sits close to 11,000 feet on Independence Pass, a steep and nail-biting passage for stagecoach travelers headed to or from Leadville and Aspen in the 1800s. Just off Highway 82, the Aspen Historical Society gives tours of the short-lived town that was deserted by miners via wooden skis made from cabins in 1899.

West of Buena Vista, St. Elmo is one of Colorado’s best-preserved ghost towns. With wooden storefronts and a dusty main street, it looks straight out of a John Wayne movie. You can get to St. Elmo in a regular car or by ATV, but after you explore a bit, make your way to the nearby infamous town of Tin Cup. One of the more rowdy towns, sheriffs didn't last very long here, and you can see echoes of their sorry fates lingering at the town cemetery.

North of Buena Vista you’ll find the tree-lined streets of Vicksburg, located in a steep clear-creek canyon. A little farther on this scenic route, you'll come to Winfield, where not much remains but the spirits of disappointed miners. This flash in the pan went boom and bust in only three years.

Visitors to Carson often think they’re the first to discover the high-altitude town when they see its undisturbed buildings and remote, tricky-to-get-to location near the Continental Divide (from this point, rivers east of the divide flow to the Gulf of Mexico; those west flow to the Pacific Ocean). In addition to its harsh winters, Carson was also unpopular with miners because of its inaccessibility; it sits at nearly 12,000 feet. The best way to get to Carson is from Lake City on Wager Gulch Trail (via 4x4, bike or hike). Continue to the Pacific side of the divide and you’ll find the sister town of Old Carson.

Also near Lake City, 9 miles up the four-wheel-drive Henson Creek/Engineer Pass road, George S. Lee dreamed of being Colorado's governor and making this area and silver-mining town — you guessed it: the state's capital city. In the 1870s, he built a mansion here, and the town featured hotels, saloons, a post office, other homes and more. Today visitors can still see the post office, a couple cabins, a smelter stack and a blanket of aspen trees.

Plagued by avalanches, the staple feature in Animas Forks is the huge bay window in the two-story Duncan House. Local lore has it the mining heiress and owner of the Hope Diamond, Evalyn Walsh, wrote her biography here. Four-wheel drive is the best way to reach Animas Forks, or you can rent an ATV in nearby Silverton or Lake City.

Once home to two newspapers (even Denver only has one!), 20 saloons, a school and many private homes, Ashcroft faded before the turn of the century. Only 10 miles from Aspen, take a guided tour of a dozen or so buildings preserved by the Aspen Historical Society, including the jail, livery stable and a couple saloons.

Southeast of Walden in Colorado's North Park area, Teller City was a silver-mining camp set amid dense forests. The town was booming in the early 1880s with hundreds of log cabins and nearly 30 saloons, but was busted by 1902. Today, there's a three-quarter-mile loop trail that guides visitors through the scattered cabin remains and artifacts, as well as the surrounding peaceful scenery.

On the way to Tomboy you’ll pass through “Social Tunnel,” the supposed place where single women met their Tomboy Mine men for, well, social time (you get the idea). Local outfitters offer Jeep tours, but mountain biking into Tomboy from Telluride is a rewarding pursuit — even if there’s no social time along the way.

The incredibly productive Portland Mine was the reason this town came to exist in the late 1800s, but unlike nearby Victor and Cripple Creek, it didn't survive the final bust. A union town with 3,000 citizens at its peak, it relied on the mine for jobs. Today, only remains of a few buildings can be seen, but very easily — right from the highway (County Road 81, about a mile north of Victor) that goes by it.

Several prime ghost towns lie northeast of Gunnison. From town, take U.S. 50 east to Parlin, where you'll take Quartz Creek Road north. First you'll come to Ohio City, where a few folks still live. It went boom and bust several times. Of the many remaining buildings, you'll find a city hall and a number of private homes.

Fifteen minutes west of La Veta between Walsenburg and Fort Garland, Uptop is a town that is ghostly, but not deserted. A railroad depot built in 1877 now houses a museum, and there's also a chapel, tavern, quilt museum and dance hall to tell the stories of this Sangre de Cristo mountain hideaway.

The only all-Black settlement in Colorado was situated on the eastern plains in the town of Dearfield, east of Greeley. More than 700 African Americans settled here in the early 1900s, but the town died during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years. Three buildings still stand: a gas station, a diner and the founder's home. Long neglected, attempts to preserve the site are now being undertaken by the Black American West Museum in Denver, with help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the History Colorado Center. To get there, take CO 34 east of Greeley about 25 miles and watch for the sign.

The center of mining activity in the Alta-Gold King area from 1877 to the late 1940s, Alta is situated about 10 miles from Telluride. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the site includes several original buildings, including cabins, a boarding house and outhouse buildings — all of which look spectacular amid the idyllic high-alpine backdrop. Continue on Alta Lakes Road past the ghost town to Alta Lakes, a haven for hikers, campers and view-seekers.

Central City escaped a boom-to-bust fate, but hidden just up the hill is Nevadaville, which bustled with some 4,000 people in its heyday. Several original buildings and a few gravesites are left, in addition to the Nevada Lodge No. 4, still used by Freemasons for monthly meetings. The route up gravelly County Road 1-S is just over a mile and makes for a nice mountain-bike jaunt.

Close to Summit County’s popular ski resorts is the Mayflower Gulch Trail. You'll find the trailhead six miles south of Copper Mountain, where you can make the 4-mile-round-trip trek to Boston Mine on foot in the summer, or strap on snowshoes or Nordic skis during the winter. Your path follows a gently sloped wagon road through forest before opening up to a bowl peppered with old mining cabins and an ore chute at the base of Fletcher Mountain.

Kanak Dutta
Answer # 2 #

Experiencing the state’s Wild West past is one of the best things to do in Colorado. This post covers a 21 ghost towns that still exist today, from well-preserved sites to relics being reclaimed by nature. Keep reading — I also share a few lesser-known spots that even most local don’t know about!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

Another Aspen-adjacent ghost town and the largest in Colorado

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Ashcroft was a silver mining town, and you can still see the saloon, post office, and hotel. Guides are on-site to tell the history of this Colorado ghost town here in the Wild West and help you learn more.

There is a suggested $5 donation for adults visiting the ghost town, but those 18 and under and active military personnel are free. Ashcroft does not allow dogs.

📚 Related Reading: 41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado in 2022 (By a Local)

A historic stop along the adventurous Independence Pass

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In the summer, Independence makes a great stop along Independence Pass. The route is one of the best Colorado road trips, connecting Leadville and Buena Vista to Aspen.

Interpretive stations tell the stories of the miners and others who lived in town. Read the harrowing story of the final group of miners who pulled apart their homes during a terrible winter storm. They turned the lumber into skis and abandoned the town for Aspen.

There is a suggested $5 donation for adults visiting the ghost town, but those 18 and under and active military personnel are free.

A charming but hard-to-get-to town near Marble

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Crystal is probably best known for pictures of the Crystal Mill. It was built in 1892 along the Crystal River. The fact that the town was so hard to access is what led to its downfall, and even now, it can be a tricky and dangerous route to this idyllic spot.

One of the only all-Black Colorado settlements, listed on the National Register of Historic Places

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Dearfield, southeast of Greeley, was an all-Black settlement that was founded by a businessman who wanted to create a haven for African-Americans. However, farming during the Great Depression was hard, and eventually, the area was abandoned.

An off-road adventure near Silverton

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You’ll want an off-road vehicle to get to this town along the Alpine Loop connecting Silverton, Ouray, and Lake City. Although people were drawn to the town for the mining, conditions were extreme. Each fall, the citizens all migrated down to Silverton to pass the harsh winters. If you visit the town now, you can find brochures and maps to learn more.

👉 Don’t Miss: When it the area, visit nearby Colorado mountain towns for more history and things to do.

Make another stop along the Alpine Loop near Silverton

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Carson is even harder to reach than Animas Forks, and once again, you’ll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle with plenty of clearance. It’s located on Wager Gulch Trail, a side spur from the Alpine Loop. Old Carson is farther along the same road, just about at the top of the Continental Divide.

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An easy hike to a former mining camp near Leadville

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Mayflower Gulch is one of the best hikes in Colorado and one of our favorite things to do near Leadville! Not far into the hike, you’ll see some remnants of mining buildings. Continue on to see the remains of the town and the Boston Mine.

An easy-to-access town near Buena Vista

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Saint Elmo is an easy town to access year-round. The road in town isn’t paved, but it is flat. Like many ghost towns in Colorado, St. Elmo was a mining town with plenty of saloons and a mostly male population. The town isn’t completely empty now – there’s a general store that sells drinks, snacks, and souvenirs, and a cabin available for rent.

A restored town that’s inhabited in the summer months

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Tin Cup is on a lot of lists of ghost towns in Colorado, but strictly speaking, it isn’t one. Almost all of the homes in town are very old cabins that have been restored, so you’ll feel like you’re wandering through Colorado in the 1800s. Tin Cup is off Cottonwood Pass, and is one of the best things to do near Buena Vista!

This Telluride-area town may have been short on amenities, but it was big on views!

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Alta sits high in the mountains on Alta Lakes Road, at 11,800 feet elevation. Several buildings remain from the mining town, which was active until 1948. You’ll want a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle, and the town is a short hike from where you’ll park.

📚 Related Reading: Things to Do in Telluride

Teller City is a spread-out ghost town in the Grand Lake area

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Teller City is west of Rocky Mountain National Park, near Walden and about an hour from Grand Lake. You’ll want a high-clearance vehicle to get to Teller City. Once you’re there, enjoy wandering a bit — the homes and buildings that make up Teller City are spread throughout the wooded area.

A Winter Park ghost town that’s a fun metal-detecting spot

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Arrow, originally called Arrowhead, is at the top of Rollins Pass. Arrow isn’t one of the many Colorado mining towns, but was a railroad and lumber camp. There’s not a whole lot left to a view of the town, but people have found interesting coins and other artifacts with metal detectors. You’ll also get great views of nearby Winter Park, one of the best ski resorts in Colorado.

This town near Gunnison still has some residents who live there

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Ohio City is a former gold mining town with some original buildings remaining. The town also has a few residents and is a popular stop in summer for hikers, campers, and other outdoor adventurers.

A well-preserved ghost town in Clear Creek Canyon

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Vicksburg is on the way to Clear Creek Reservoir, just off Highway 24. There’s an on-site museum that is open on occasion during the summer. Some of the cabins in the area are private and may be occupied.

👉 Pro Tip: Winfield is another one of the nearby Colorado ghost towns to check out.

This town near Lake City has two of the original buildings left

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Capitol City still has a U.S. Post Office building and Lee’s Smelter Stack. There are also some kilns and the remains of outbuildings in the area. It’s close to private land, so be aware as you’re exploring.

A scenic Telluride ghost town with marmots and wildflowers

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Tomboy is just five miles from Telluride, but on an unpaved road that’s best traveled by an all-terrain vehicle. Along with buildings to check out, you’ll get beautiful mountain views with wildflowers and you may spot local wildlife.

An easily-accessible Teller County town

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Paved highways mean Goldfield is an easy spot to visit for all vehicles. The town has many historic buildings and homes to explore. The town does still have residents living there today, so be careful while wandering!

Once home to the world’s highest train tracks, this La Veta-area town has a storied history

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Uptop is an unusual town because it had several industries throughout the years. It was abandoned after a safer highway was built through the Sangre de Cristos. Views from Uptop are incredible, as some of the most scenic Colorado 14ers are nearby.

Stop near Central City to view these abandoned structures

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Nevadaville, once known as Nevada City, was a gold and silver mining town until its bust in the early 1900s. The buildings there are on private property, but you can walk down the streets and see them from the outside. The Mason Lodge in town is the only ghost town lodge in the state.

A former mining town that’s one of the closest ghost towns to Denver

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You can approach Russell Gulch from Idaho Springs if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, or from Central City in a two-wheel drive vehicle. In town, you’ll find an old brick schoolhouse, a barn, and some other mining remnants.

Learn about Colorado life in this town featured on the National Register of Historic Places

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South Park City is more touristy than many of the ghost towns in Colorado. However, a lot of the abandoned ghost towns lack information and representations of what life may have been like for settlers.

You’ll get all that here, in this replica town in Fairplay, Colorado. It features 44 buildings, depicting an 1800s mining town. Seven of the buildings are on their original sites, while many others were moved from mining camps and ghost towns in the area.

Vonnie Denison
Demographic Marketer