Latitude / Longitude:
8,950 ft (2,728 m)
Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
Crystal (also known as Crystal City) is a ghost town on the upper Crystal River in Gunnison County, Colorado, United States. It is located in the Elk Mountains along a four-wheel-drive road 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Marble and 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Crested Butte. Crystal was a mining camp established in 1880 and after several decades of robust existence, was all but abandoned by 1917. Many buildings still stand in Crystal, but its few residents live there only in the summer.
Prospectors discovered promising deposits of silver near the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork of the Crystal River in 1880. Within months mining operations were underway and a new mining camp had emerged. A year later, on July 8, 1881, Crystal City was incorporated. At its height of prosperity in the mid-1880s, Crystal had over 500 residents, a post office, a newspaper (the Crystal River Current which was later replaced by The Silver Lance), a pool hall, the Crystal Club (a popular and exclusive men’s club), a barber shop, saloons, and hotels.
Today Crystal is best known for one of the most photographed historic sites in Colorado, the Crystal Mill, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Gunnison County Road 3 connects Crystal to Marble. Much of the road is a rocky shelf road, suitable for four-wheel drive only. Forest Road 317 (a.k.a. Gothic Road) connects Crystal to Crested Butte via Schofield Pass. It traverses the Devils Punchbowl, considered among the most dangerous four-wheel drive trails in the state.
Crystal is vacated in the winter but there are a few summer residents. The town does see visitors, most passing through to recreate in the area. The upper Crystal River Valley is nestled between two wilderness areas: the Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness to the north and the Raggeds Wilderness to the south. Photography, hiking, peak bagging, mountain biking, and four-wheel-drive and off-highway vehicle touring are common activities. Fly fishing and hunting (deer and elk) are also popular.