So I decided to tell you a little about the wonderful state of Colorado. The two Rocky Mountain towns you do not want to miss are Silverton and Animas Forks Ghost Town. There are so many places to visit and things you can do in Colorado if you love the outdoors. Not all places require a 4×4 vehicle, but high clearance vehicles are always best. If you want to step back in time, but still want modern amenities, then Silverton Colorado is the place to visit. Whether you are a first-time visitor or have visited many times, Colorado is the placed you will enjoy time after time. I’m going to share with you two Colorado rocky mountain towns you will not want to miss.
Silverton’s official beginning came in 1874 with the discovery of gold and silver (hence the name). It sits at an elevation of 9,300 feet. There are still some active mines in the area. Silverton is known as a tourist town now with it’s biggest draw being the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train Route. This train has been in operation for 126 years. It carries passengers through stunning vistas and up the mountain from Durango to Silverton. We rode in the open air box and it was great except by the time we got back, we were covered with black soot from the steam engine. The passengers disembark and spend a couple of hours in town shopping and eating. The train then takes them back to Durango. Silverton looks just as it did in the early 1900′s. Unlike other mining towns, Silverton never suffered a major fire and most of the original buildings are still standing.
The best thing to do when in Silverton besides shopping is just finding a bench on the sidewalk and taking in the breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains. Silverton exudes real old-west “movie-set” charm with shops, restaurants and a Victorian feel of days gone by. The town of Silverton only has about 500 residents who live there year round and their mayor is also their milkman. Silverton offers several places to stay while visiting. They have several hotels, lodges and bed and breakfast depending on your needs.
Silverton is a great place to visit during the summer months, especially if you want to take some of the wonderful 4×4 back roads. The high mountain town of Silverton is brutal to live in during the winter months because the winters are long and the landscape is unforgiving. You must own a four wheel drive truck to get around in the winter and even then sometimes you can’t get out. The backcountry is a mecca for avalanches. Every year several people are killed by avalanches.
Silverton has a couple of skiing areas. Silverton Mountain is only for hard-core skiers; not beginners. It is not your typical skiing place. There are no groomed runs, no cut trails, just loads of nature’s finest black diamond skiing in the U.S.A. Kendall Mountain, however, is a wonderful, affordable winter fun for the family. Their daily lift tickets are only $15 for adults (18-64) and $10 for youth (6-17) and children under 5 are free.
Silverton is also a recreational paradise in Winter for snowmobiling, sledding, ice skating, ice climbing and ice fishing. In the Summer for backcountry touring, Jeeping, ATV and OHV riding, fishing, hiking, biking, rafting, horseback riding, hunting and camping. Silverton offers several great camping site in town with hot showers and full hookups.
1. Silverton, Colorado Bed & Breakfast Hotel – The Villa Dallavalle Bed & Breakfast Hotel
The Villa Dallavalle is a historic Bed and Breakfast Hotel in Silverton, Colorado Hotel. There are 7 OLD SILVERTON ERA rooms to choose from. The rooms are quaint and cozy and the Hotel’s breakfasts are absolutley scrumptious.
2. The Wyman Hotel & Inn
3. The Grand Imperial Hotel – Silverton, Colorado
Information and History regarding the Grand Imperial Hotel and Grumpy\’s Restaurant at the Grand in Silverton, CO. A breakdown of rooms in the hotel and full menu for the restaurant are included in addition to contact information and a historical overview of the town.
4. San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours Ouray, CO
Established in 1946, San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours is Colorado’s first and oldest scenic Jeep Tour company located in Ouray Colorado.
5. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train
6. Silverton Mountain
7. Ski Kendall
Kendall Mountain Ski Area and Kendall Mountain Recreation Area in Silverton, CO Colorado: Ski, Snowboard, Sled, Snowshoe, Cross Country Ski, Ice Skate, and more fun!, Kendall Mountain Ski Area in Silverton Colorado
There are three different roads which lead to Animas Forks. Engineer Pass and Cinnamon Pass are strictly 4×4 roads with no exception, but the road out of Silverton to Animas Forks is a high clearance gravel road.
Once you get to Animas Forks you will be able to turn around and return back to Silverton, unless you have a 4×4 and want to continue on over the passes. To get to Animas Forks, take State Highway 110 out of Silverton, follow the gravel road for 12 miles through Howards Ville, Middleton and Eureka. The road will at times become a little narrow but it is considered an “easy” road. Elevation is 11,584′, cold snowy winters with cool summers. The best time to visit is after July 1st. Animas Forks once boasted as being the “largest city in the world” with small print saying “at this altitude.” This mining camp started in 1877 with the findings of silver-bearing grey copper. The original town consisted of several stores, a hotel, saloons, several brothels, an assay office, shops and other buildings. Avalanches were the curse of Animas Forks and several times destroyed building and stopped incoming travelers.
One of the most distinguishable, preserved and photographed buildings in Animas Forks is “the bay window house.” The Duncan/Walsh house was built in 1879 by William Duncan, a postman and minor who struck it rich. The three-story mansion was the largest building in town. The bay window faced the Columbus Mill, so William could keep an eye on his Gold! The house was purchased some years later by Thomas Walsh for his daughter Evalyn, who in 1907 eloped and never actually lived in the house.
Ruins of the Animas Forks mill still stand, but please be careful. The ruins are old and dangerous. The slightest bump could bring debris down on you and what might look solid could collapse under your weight. Once you leave Silverton, there will be no places to stop for restroom breaks until you reach Animas Forks. The forestry service have built some nice clean restrooms. Please note these restrooms have no electricity and are basically a toilet sitting atop a hole in the ground. This is always a little disturbing to me lol.
So I hope you have found Silverton and Animas Forks two wonderful Colorado rocky mountain towns you will not want to miss.