The Wild West is a place of imagination where the stories are still alive and well. Colorado’s ghost towns offer an insight into what life was like in this period.
In the late 1800s, Colorado was one of America’s most lucrative places to be. With its gold-starry skies and fresh air smelling like lilacs in bloom everywhere you looked, it didn’t take long for people from all over to come to look and settle themselves into these newly built towns with an abundance of precious metals scattered about them!
Modern-day adventurers are again finding their way to Colorado’s ghost towns, revitalized by visitors who want a glimpse into the state’s boom time. These eerily quiet places offer an abandoned feel with teeming saloons, outlawed showdowns, and some excellent spots for photography or hiking!
Colorado Ghost Towns You Can Visit
We’ve got what your heart desires if you’re looking for an abandoned building in Colorado. From old churches to prison cells – these structures will give any thrill-seeker some serious adrenaline! But be careful; many buildings are unsafe and private property or protected by local historical societies, so make sure not to trespass or take anything without permission before exploring this forgotten world again today.
In the 1800s, travelers on their way to or from Aspen often stopped at Independence Pass. This is where they could have seen a short-lived town abandoned after only ten years. Life was difficult for people who had not been acclimated to high altitude conditions or safely traveled narrow roads.
As one heads towards Leadville over Highway 82, you’ll come across an old stagecoach trail which locals call “the zigzag.” Along the route, signs can be seen pointing steeply up into mountainsides covered with trees.
St. Elmo & Tin Cup, Colorado
West of Buena Vista, Colorado’s best-preserved ghost town is St Elmo. It looks straight from a John Wayne movie with wooden storefronts and a dusty main street! You can get there by car or ATV, but after exploring a little, make your way toward the nearby Tin Cup. The small town of Tin Cup has a notorious reputation as it is believed one tough townsman still lingers in their sorry fate at this historic cemetery. As you walk through each dirt track lined up side by side like soldiers awaiting orders, It becomes obvious why these places were so important.
Vicksburg & Winfield, Colorado
What’s left of Winfield is a ghost town, though it had its boom and bust in only three years. North toward Buena Vista, you’ll find the tree-lined streets which lead down into scenic Vicksburg with its clear creeks winding through like silk strands on a string. There are no other developed areas until after this point, so enjoy your drive while considering how beautiful nature can be when untouched! Once at the destination, proceed north up Highway 49, where one may encounter yet another abandoned townsite known locally as “The Ruins.”
When you visit Carson, Co and see its undisturbed buildings or remote location near the Continental Divide, it’s easy for visitors to think they’re alone in discovering what is often referred to as “the last frontier.” The harsh winters made this town unattractive because there was no way accessible enough then–and even now, improved transportation options such as the ascent up Wager Gulch Trail via 4×4 aren’t always possible unless one has chains!
Capitol City, Colorado
Henson Creek Mine, established in 1868, was the main attraction for the town and brought many men ready to work long hours in search of gold. George S. Lee, Colorado’s first governor and a native son of this area, dreamed that his home would become the capital city one day.
Today visitors can still see many buildings built during the mining highs. A post office with its stone exterior and cabins for housing miners on their daily rounds through town are easy to spot.
Animas Forks, Colorado
The Animas Forks is a unique spot in the San Juan Valley. Four-wheel drive vehicles will get you closest to all that Animas Forks has to offer but if not, then just rent some ATVs or dirt bikes along your trip since they’re available everywhere around these parts.
Ashcroft’s history goes back many years. Once home to two newspapers and 20 saloons, this little town experienced exponential growth in population during its time as a mining community. Located outside Aspen near compensating mines, you can take a guided tour of the historical society and see the remaining buildings, including a jail.
Teller City, Colorado
Teller City is a ghost town in Colorado’s North Park area that was once home to over 300 log cabins and nearly 30 saloons. The town bustled with activity during its early days, but by 1902 it had all subsided into ruin until today when you can take a 3/4 mile loop trail through this gorgeous landscape filled will scattered cabin remains as well artifacts from when Teller thrived.
The journey to Tomboy is full of unlikely stories and curious moments. One such instance occurs on your way there when you pass through the “Social Tunnel,” where single women would meet men for some promiscuous social time. Local outfitters offer Jeep tours, but mountain biking into town from Telluride is worth braving.
The Portland Mine was a key player in establishing this town, but it didn’t last long. Goldfield was a union mining town with 3 thousand citizens at its peak. Town inhabitants that did not participate in the mining activities relied on jobs from the company store for their livelihoods.
Today remains of several buildings can be seen off Highway 81 about 1 mile north of Victor. An old gas station can also be seen that dates back around World War II, according to locals who live there now.
Ohio City, Colorado
The road to Quartz Creek is lonely, but it’s worth the trip. Along this stretch of US 50, you’ll find several ghost towns, once bustling mining communities in Colorado’s mountains.
A few miles outside Parlin, you can see an abandoned city hall with only a few homes still standing. The locals have managed not only to survive off their landholdings since quartz deposits dried up decades ago, but they’ve also found new ways of making ends meet by turning some spare rooms into yoga studios or breweries!
Uptop is a town that feels like it’s stuck in time, but there are plenty of modern amenities to keep you connected. A railroad depot built back when Colorado was still part of Mexican territory houses the UPTOP Museum.
It tells visitors about this little-known mountain hideaway with its Ghost Train tour option. Other attractions include an old chapel, quilt museum, and dance hall where locals come together every Saturday evening for square dancing.
The town of Dearfield is home to a uniquely African American settlement established in Colorado’s eastern plains during the early 1900s. More than 700 people from all over came here. Still, when their towns died due to the Dust Bowl and Great Depression years, they left behind only three buildings: one gas station, a diner owned by founder Harvey “Gatlin” Jones, who also served as mayor for eight terms before passing away at 100-years old, and Harvey’s house.
The Black American West Museum in Denver is working hard to preserve this historic site. They’ve partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and History Colorado Center, guiding how bests can be maintained while allowing future generations access through programs like “The Connectivity Collection.”
To reach their destination, take CO 34 east of Greeley about 25 miles before watching signage that will direct you towards one’s next turnoff onto a dirt road leading down into Agriculture Districts.
The Alta-Gold King area was once the epicenter of Colorado mining activity. It included some original buildings, such as cabins and boarding houses, to house employees. At the same time, they worked at their mines throughout this rugged landscape that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Continue down Alta Lakes Road past what remains of a ghost town, where you can find ample camping space with beautiful views overlooking picturesque settings.
At the top of Central City’s hill, you’ll find Nevadaville. This once-booming mining town has been left to largely decay by developers who were waiting for its golden era before they moved in again and started restoring what was lost during The Crash.
Few original buildings remained from when it bustled with over 4 thousand people back then; one such building houses some Freemason’s monthly meetings. You can even take your bike up one-mile-long gravelly County Road S if the scenery is more important than speed – though I recommend going slow so as not to damage either vehicle or trail surfaces too much.
Mayflower Gulch & Boston Mine, Colorado
The Mayflower Gulch Trail is a great way to get close enough for skiing in the winter and summer hiking with its 4-mile round-trip hike. When you make this trek, you will pass old mining cabins and see ore chutes at the base of Fletcher Mountain and gorgeous views of Colorado’s Front Range Mountains.