Colorado Ghost Towns

by | Dec 7, 2020 | Colorado, Destinations, Mining Town, North America, Travel and Education

Crystal City, Colorado: One of the most picturesque Colorado Ghost Towns

There are several ghost towns in Gunnison County, Colorado. Crystal is one of the more stunning of them. Owing to Its beautiful location. In fact, while driving here, you can choose one of two scenic routes. If you are coming from the west through Marble, Colorado, you will find Crystal 6 miles east. However, if you are driving from Crested Butte, Colorado, you need to take Forest Road 317 (also known as Gothic Road) past Gothic, Colorado, 20 miles northwest.

Crystal was built as a remote mining camp in 1881. Although, the town was abandoned by 1917. On an important note, It is only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles because of steep, rocky roads. You can drive yourself if you are an experienced driver on rocky and steep roads. However, you might enjoy the scenery more if you take a tour. Crystal River Jeep Tours is one that offers different trips here.

Ashcroft Colorado a mining ghost town near Aspen Colorado
Ashcroft, Colorado a mining ghost town near Aspen, Colorado

Ashcroft, Colorado: Colorado Ghost Towns in the neighborhood of Aspen

When going to Ashcroft ghost town, you will travel 11 miles south of Aspen, on Castle Creek Road. Additionally, it is one of many Colorado ghost towns that came about because of the silver boom. If you visit Ashcroft, you will see several restored, historic buildings. Notably, they include a saloon, post office, and the Bird House Hotel. Since Ashcroft caters more as a tourist site, you can also take a guided tour. Otherwise, signs are telling the stories of this former boomtown. 

Animas Forks a mining town between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado
Animas Forks, Colorado a mining Ghost Town between Silverton and Ouray

Animas Forks, Colorado one of the highest Colorado Ghost Towns

The ghost town of Animas Forks is twelve miles (19 km) northeast of Silverton, Colorado. It is located in the southwestern part of the State in San Juan County. Animas Forks is one of Colorado’s highest elevation, mining towns at 11,000 ft. or at (timberline). In fact, it is one of the most popular destinations on Colorado’s Alpine Loop, which is a scenic Backcountry Byway between Silverton and Ouray. The first cabin in Animas Forks was built in 1873, and the town itself lasted until 1917.

 Colorado Ghost Towns
Tomboy Colorado on Imogene Pass near Telluride

Another Colorado Ghost Towns at a high elevation is Tomboy

The remains of Tomboy are located on Imogene Pass in the San Juans Mountains in Southwest Colorado. Imogene Pass connects Ouray withTelluride and is the second-highest Pass in Colorado. This makes Tomboy another of the highest elevation, Colorado ghost towns at an altitude of 11,509 feet. Additionally, you will find remains, but no buildings are remaining in Tomboy,

Colorado Ghost Towns
Fulford, a Colorado Ghost Town in Eagle County. from the days of the Gold and Silver rush

Fulford, Colorado one of the Colorado Ghost Towns that has year round residents

Today it’s mostly a ghost town, but in its heyday, Fulford was on a Stage Coach Route that followed the Ute trail in Eagle County. As a matter of fact, if you want to check it out, it is a short drive off I-70 to this isolated but seasonally accessible Ghost Town south of Eagle, Colorado.

Discover several things to see and do in the area. However, more notable things of interest are upper and lower Fulford, the Fulford caves, and some excellent hiking trails.

Originally Fulford was known as Nolan’s camp. Uniquely, there are stories of lost treasure in the area. You will find the town of Fulford in southeast Eagle county in the New York Range. Likewise, there are a few residents who live here year-round and many more who have seasonal cabins.

Colorado Ghost Towns
The Ghost Town of Gothic near Crested Butte, Colorado

Gothic, Colorado one of many charming Colorado Ghost Towns

Up the road from Crested Butte, you will find the ghost town of Gothic. This town was once home to a thriving silver mine that operated from 1879 to 1896. After the silver boom, the town was next-to abandoned, leaving only a handful of residents and 200 empty buildings. On another note, Gothic is accessible year-round. However, it is more manageable after snow-melt.

Colorado Ghost Towns
Ghost Town of Vicksburg, Colorado in Clear Creek Canyon

Vicksburg, Colorado one of the Colorado Ghost Towns on the National Register of Historic Places

You can find Vicksburg, a ghost town that sprung up as a silver mining camp in a pretty valley. It was first settled in 1861 when prospectors discovered gold and lead while looking for their runaway burros.

Vicksburg is located near the town of Granite, in Clear Creek Canyon. While it is mostly a ghost town today, some of the buildings are occupied by seasonal residents. The townsite was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Additionally, it is located in Chaffee County near Buena Vista.

Colorado Ghost Towns
Winfield Colorado in Chaffee County

Winfield, Colorado a Colorado Ghost Town

Another ghost town near Buena Vista is Winfield, Colorado. It is the remains of another mining town tucked away in the San Isabel National Forest. An additional point of interest is the old cemetery, which is a short walk above the town. Not only does the town have beautiful 360-degree views, but there is also access to the Continental Divide Trail nearby. Notably, in the town, there are several original buildings. These include a quaint schoolhouse as well as some seasonal cabins.

Colorado Ghost Towns
Ghost Town of Independence, Colorado in Pitkin County.

Independence, Colorado A Ghost Town on the Continental Divide

Located on Independence Pass on the Continental Divide, you will find the Ghost Town of Independence. To clarify, it was the first settlement established in the Roaring Fork Valley after gold was discovered on July 4, 1879, thus its name. This is a unique site located just off State Highway 82 in the eastern corner of Pitkin County. Independence was recognized as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

St Elmo a Colorado Ghost Town
St. Elmo Colorado in Chaffee County

St Elmo, Colorado

One of the best-preserved and most popular ghost towns in Colorado is St Elmo. It is a former gold mining camp in Chaffee County. The area was originally settled in 1878 and was made official in 1880 when gold and silver were discovered. At its peak, about 2000 people were living here. St. Elmo is located at 10,000 feet in the Swatch Mt. Range, 20 miles southwest of Buena Vista. In 1979 the entire district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Colorado Ghost Towns
Goldfield Colorado City Hall building

Goldfield, Colorado one of the Colorado Ghost Towns in the famous Cripple Creek Mining District

This once bustling town was the third-largest in the Cripple Creek Mining District behind Cripple Creek and Victor. Goldfield boasted of a population of about 3,500 citizens at its prime in 1900.

The town was originally built around the Portland mine, one of the best-producing mines in the entire district. Today, Goldfield is practically a ghost town. However, there are a few residents still living here.

Goldfield gained some notoriety because the National Guard chose for its headquarters during the violent miner strikes that occurred starting in 1903.

Colorado Ghost Towns
The Ghost Town of Ludlow, Colorado near Trinidad

Ludlow, Colorado a Ghost Town with a tragic end

This abandoned town in Las Animas County near Trinidad is located in southern Colorado. Ludlow is one of several Colorado Ghost Towns on the front range. It was famous as the site of the Ludlow Massacre. The massacre was a terrible event in which the Colorado National Guard and the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company attacked a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families. This cruel event happened on April 20, 1914. The Colorado National Guard used machine guns to fire into the colony where coal miners and some of their wives and children were killed.

Colorado Ghost Towns
Uptop Colorado on La Veta Pass

Uptop, Colorado

The 40-acre settlement of Uptop was established in 1877, near the town of La Veta. It is located on Old La Veta Pass. The town is currently being revitalized and can be a fun place to visit. A unique aspect of La Veta evolves around the Ute Prayer Trees in the vicinity. For hundreds of years, The Ute Tribe came here specifically to collect medicinal plants. You can still see standing some Ute Prayer Trees intentionally shaped by the Ute tribe to mark these plants’ locations.

Dearfield, Colorado

Dearfield, Colorado a Ghost Town with a unique past

The name of this town is not misspelled. Dearfield was the only all-Black settlement in Colorado. You will find it situated on the eastern plains near Orchard, Colorado, in Weld County. It was founded in 1910 by Oliver Toussaint Jackson, and at its peak, more than 700 African Americans settled here. However, the town died during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl years.

Picketwire, Colorado: (Purgatoire) Canyonlands on the Comanche National Grasslands south of La Junta along the Purgatory River. These primitive canyons are home to the largest known set of dinosaur tracks in North America, Native American rock art, early Hispanic settlements, the remains of a Spanish Mission and cemetery, and a historic ranch.

Picketwire Canyon-lands has fascinating remains of those who came before, both man and beast

This unique area known as Picketwire (an Anglicized version of the French word Purgatoire) or Purgatory is found in the canyon-lands along the Purgatory River. It is located in the Comanche National Grasslands south of La Junta, Colorado.

Remarkably, these primitive canyons are home to the largest known set of dinosaur tracks in North America, some large enough to sit in. They also are evidence that dinosaurs traveled in herds.

Here, you can also view Native American rock art, early Hispanic settlements, the remains of a Spanish Mission and cemetery, and a historic American ranch.

COLORADO GHOST TOWNS YOU CAN VISIT

There are many Ghost Towns in Colorado. The State has a rich past that often started with a Boom but ended in a Bust. Ordinarily, most of these once-bustling towns were abandoned after the Bust. Uniquely, some of them are accessible to visit, while others are very remote. Furthermore, In some of these Ghost Towns, there are still buildings to see and remnants of their past, which gives us a glimpse into their history.

.

Towns that came into being because of the silver and gold rush

Many towns whose heydays were created from Gold Rush fever and are now Colorado Ghost Towns. They were often built in steep, mountainous areas where miners prospected for and found precious minerals. In most cases, all that is left of their past are the mines and cabins’ remnants. Often you will only find piles of splintered logs from buildings of long ago. In particular, if you venture to see these relic towns, you will most likely need a 4×4 and experience driving challenging, steep roads and trails. Some of these sites are also accessible by hiking, mountain biking, or in some instances, ATVs.

Take Care

Being careful is important because many abandoned buildings and mines in these Ghost Towns are unsafe to enter. Besides, many are privately owned or protected by local or state historical societies.

Be responsible: Do your part

Colorado Ghost Towns are a part of Colorado’s significant past. These sites represent a long history. Taking souvenirs is strictly prohibited, as is defacing historical and natural landmarks. Please take all the photos you like as they are the best souvenirs you will take home.

by Danette Ulrich

Colorado Weekend Trips
Home

Related Posts

Hell’s Half Acre

Hell’s Half Acre

Identity of Place When I began researching places named Hell's Half Acre because of their difficult terrain, I had no idea that so many places would come up. After thinking about it, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I won't cover all of them in this post. I decided to...