It's Not A Ghost Town Anymore
Colorado’s Ghost Towns
From high alpine locales to wind-swept plains, Colorado’s arid climate helps preserve the relics of abandoned boom-and-bust towns.
A lone cemetery marks this supply hub, makeshift capital, whistle-stop on the Wells Fargo Express and gateway to mountainous mining camps. Trek into the rolling expanse of Matthews/Winters Park and watch for grave markers.
In the Sawatch Range, sun-washed storefronts remain from the swell of gold and silver seekers. So do ghosts of local lore — like Home Comfort Hotel owner “Dirty Annie.” Tip: The general store is open all summer.
The Last Dollar, Champion and Sheba lodes lured prospectors here. In 1899, snowfall cut off supply routes, and miners dismantled their homes to build skis and escape to nearby Aspen. Located off Highway 82.
Alta’s mines — originally powered by coal, requiring a four-day trip by pack mule — were the first to use Nikola Tesla’s AC transmission system. Take Alta Lakes Road six miles south of Telluride on Highway 145.
A few scattered cabins memorialize the bygone silver settlement of saloons, a 40-room hotel and log-built houses founded by fortune-finder “Old Cush.” Accessible from Roosevelt National Forest; high-clearance 4x4 recommended.
In 1884, a 23-day blizzard blanketed Animas Forks with 25 feet of snow; locals had to dig tunnels to get from building to building. Reachable from Silverton by a 12-mile hike or an off-road drive.
DONTON HOT SPRINGS
Dunton Hot Springs, an 1885 mining town-turned ghost town outside of Telluride, is now one of Colorado’s most splurge-worthy wilderness stays. Murmurs of the real-life Butch Cassidy carving his name into the bar persist.
Fifty miles west of Denver, there's a sleepy old miner's town called Silver Plume. There you’ll find a corner building on Main Street, once a miner's supply and a small bakery. B R E A D is painted on the front in faded black letters. Today, this little jewelbox is a weekend cocktail bar called Bread Bar, open Friday-Sunday for locals and travelers. Paying homage is important to the new owners, so when they developed their cocktail menu, Bread Bar named their specialty drinks after notable citizens of Silver Plume's bygone era. One such gent - Clifford Griffin - has a story too good not to share. Clifford was one of the earliest residents of Silver Plume. He moved out with his brother from New York in the mid-1800s. As lore tells it, Clifford was heartbroken when he arrived, his fiancé having died the night before their wedding back east. Though he'd age to become one of the town's most generous men, picking up whole bar tabs in a single swipe and buying the town miner families a Christmas goose every holiday, Clifford never recovered from his loss. To mourn, many afternoons and nights Clifford would sit on a bluff high above Silver Plume and play a somber violin. The requiems echoing through the valley. Today, if you visit the Bread Bar, you'll not be far from a 10-foot Gunnison granite monument in Clifford Griffin's honor, high up on the mountain where he used to take his violin. Have his Rye and think of the man.