In the late 1800s, many people went to Colorado for gold. This caused many towns to be built quickly to house the miners. Only a few of those towns, like Idaho Springs, Breckenridge, Boulder, and Aspen, are thriving today. But many of the towns are now ghost towns, abandoned and forgotten.
The stories behind these towns, however, still live on. The harsh living conditions and rough people of the Wild West made these places so interesting. And visiting them today gives us a glimpse into what life was like back then.
Have you ever heard of a ghost town? These are towns that were once full of people but are now abandoned. In the late 1800s, many miners came to Colorado to search for gold and silver, and over a thousand mountain towns were built quickly to house them.
Only a few of these towns are still thriving today, such as Idaho Springs, Breckenridge, Boulder, and Aspen. The rest are abandoned and have become ghost towns. Let’s look at some of the best ghost towns in Colorado!
Nevadaville was once a big town with about 4,000 people in the late 1800s. When the gold and silver ran out, so did the residents. Today, you can still drive to Nevadaville and park to walk around. The town has a few original buildings and historic grave sites. You can also see some historic mines on the road.
Ohio City, Colorado
Ohio City is a unique ghost town because it’s only semi-abandoned. Some people still live there today. Ohio City was once a gold-mining town in the 1860s and then a silver-mining town in the 1880s. When the silver boom ended in 1893, the town became mostly deserted. If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, Ohio City is a good base to explore other nearby ghost towns, like Pitkin, which also has many historic buildings.
Alta is a beautiful ghost town set against a high-alpine backdrop, only 10 miles from Telluride. You can take Alta Lakes Road past the town to enjoy hiking, camping, and amazing views. The town was once a busy mining center from 1877 to the late 1940s. It even had a temporary revival during WWII. Alta was the first place to use Tesla’s AC transmission system to power the mines previously powered by coal.
Ashcroft is the largest ghost town in Colorado and is considered the best to visit. It’s now on the National Register of Historic Places and offers tours of preserved saloons, a jail, and a livery stable. In its prime, Ashcroft had 2,500 residents and 20 saloons! The town was once a boom for silver mining in 1880, but the mines dried up by 1885.
Teller City, Colorado
Teller City is an adventurous ghost town in the Roosevelt National Forest, which is great for camping. You’ll need to hike for a few hours to see the buildings. In the early 1880s, Teller City was a bustling mining camp with 1,500 residents, a 40-room hotel, and 27 saloons. However, by 1902, the town was deserted due to a fall in the value of silver.
Animas Forks, Colorado
Animas Forks is located 12 miles from Silverton and is set at 11,200 feet in the San Juan Mountains. It was founded in 1873 and, at one time, had around 450 residents who lived in buildings like a hotel, saloon, and post office. But by the 1920s, harsh snowstorms had caused everyone to leave.
Today, Animas Forks is still a remote location that’s only accessible by four-wheel drive or ATV. The best time to visit is summer but check the weather first. Once you arrive, you can check out the original buildings along the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, including the popular Duncan House with its huge bay window.
Independence was founded in 1879 at 11,000 feet, 16 miles east of Aspen. It once had 1,500 residents but was abandoned by 1899 when the gold ran out. Today, it’s closed from October to May because of snow, but if you visit during the summer, you can see a stable, houses, a general store, and the Farwell Stamp Mill. Just be careful as you explore because the buildings are in poor condition. You can also take a tour with the Aspen Historical Society during the warmer months.
Carson was a small town with a peak of 500 residents but one of the best-preserved ghost towns. It was built in 1889 at an elevation of almost 12,000 feet, but its inaccessibility made it unpopular, and it was abandoned by the early 1900s. Today, it’s on private property, but the owners allow visitors. You’ll need to hike, bike, or have a 4×4, as the road is treacherous.
St. Elmo and Tin Cup, Colorado
St. Elmo is a ghost town in Chalk Creek Canyon and one of the most accessible ghost towns. There are 43 historic buildings, including dance halls, homes, jails, and former saloons. It was founded in 1880 with around 2,000 residents but wasn’t abandoned until 1950. Today, there’s even a general store that sells souvenirs and a bed and breakfast. But be warned, St. Elmo is said to have some paranormal activity, and Tin Cup has a bloody history with sheriffs being run off or killed.
Have you heard of Dearfield? It was a special place in Colorado that was just for African Americans. It was located on the plains near Greeley and was started in 1910 by Oliver T. Jackson.
Dearfield was where African Americans could be safe and free from racism. Sadly, things got tough during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, which made it hard for people to grow crops. Because of this, people eventually had to leave Dearfield.
Going to Dearfield today, you can still see some old buildings. Oliver T. Jackson’s house, gas station, and diner are there. These places remind us of a time when Dearfield was a lively community.
In conclusion, these ghost towns in Colorado offer a glimpse into the wild west life and allow us to explore the state’s history and natural beauty. Whether driving or hiking, visit one of these fascinating ghost towns on your next trip to Colorado.