Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Photos: Gallery | Colorado Springs Gazette, News

5 Colorado ghost towns for you to hike

For a chance to strike it rich in gold and silver, Colorado’s early prospectors grew fixed on taming its wildest canyons, where they carved rail corridors into mountains and constructed stage roads that lured eager new arrivals pursuing “Pikes Peak or Bust.” But not every vein led to riches, and many new arrivals went “bust.” When claims went dry – yielding meager returns dwarfed by the effort of extracting, refining and transporting them – mining camps, tunnels and entire towns were abandoned, left to weather in the unforgiving elements of the Rocky Mountains on their inevitable return to wilderness. For today’s explorers, Colorado’s ghost towns are places of mystery that add elements of history and adventure to any hike, drive or backpacking trip, while inviting visitors to learn more.

For more Gazette lists, check out our lists page.

Crystal near Marble

1. Crystal near Marble

By the mid-1880s, the mining community of Crystal boasted a population of 400, with two newspapers, two hotels, saloons, a billiards parlor, a barber shop and the men-only Crystal Club, a booming backwoods refuge fueled by seven working silver mines, according to “Ghost Towns of the Mountain West” by Philip Varney.

Christian Murdock, The Gazette

0

Crystal Ghost Town (cont.)
The 1893 silver crash nearly emptied the town, and by 1915 just 15 residents remained.

A dozen old cabins are the only sign of those days, including the Crystal Club, a log building with lumber facade. 

John Fowler via Wikipedia

0
Crystal Colorado

Crystal Ghost Town (cont.) 
To get there: Crystal is 5.9 miles east of Marble on Forest Road 314. A four-wheel drive vehicle and considerable experience on rough roads are required. Consider a hike or bike ride in.

To see more of Colorado's Ghost Towns, click here!

Adam-Springer

0
st. elmo

2. St. Elmo, West of Buena Vista

Perhaps the state’s best-preserved ghost town, St. Elmo sits at 10,000 feet in the Collegiate Peaks west of Buena Vista.

Jerilee Bennett

0
ST. ELMO

St. Elmo (cont.)

The main street looks much like it must have in the 1880s, when the town was a thriving mining hub with 2,000 residents.

Mark Reis

0
The turning aspen trees surround an old shed in the ghost town of St. Elmo in central Colorado Sept. 19, 2015.   (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

St. Elmo (cont.)

Two restored buildings, Pawnee Mill’s livery stable and its blacksmith shop, are among 40 antique structures that remain.

CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE

0
The sun shines through an aspen grove outside the ghost town of St. Elmo, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.   (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

St. Elmo (cont.)

To get there: From Buena Vista, drive south about 8.5 miles to Nathrop on U.S. 285. A quarter-mile south of Nathrop find Road 162 and take it west for 15.4 miles to St. Elmo. The drive is suitable for most passenger vehicles.

To see more of Colorado's Ghost Towns, click here!

CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE

0
Carson ghost town

3. Carson Near Lake City

Silver outpaced gold 100 to 1 when this abandoned mining town was in its heyday, supporting 150 separate claims until the silver market cratered in 1893. By 1902, The Gunnison Times reported, “Carson with its many promising properties is practically abandoned.”

All Trails

0
Carson ghost town

Carson Ghost Town (cont.) 
Today, Carson is a haunting site in a place of rare beauty, with seven historic buildings, some made of hewn logs, some of cut lumber.

Out There Colorado

0
Carson ghost town

Carson Ghost Town (cont.)
To get there: From Lake City, head southeast on Colorado Highway 149 for 2.3 miles to Road 30. Take Road 30 for 9 miles to Wager Bulch Road (Road 36), which heads south. The 3.6 miles to Carson require four-wheel drive.

To see more of Colorado's Ghost Towns, click here!

All Trails

0
Lulu City

4. Lulu City in Rocky Mountain National Park

Founded in 1879 on rumors of rich veins of silver, Lulu City enjoyed four years of high times with a population that peaked at 200. By the mid-1880s, it grew clear that the low-grade silver ore retrieved by the miners wouldn’t offset the expense of transporting it, and the town was abandoned, leaving orderly rows of cabins. Outcasts went on to found Dutchtown in the Never Summer Mountains.

Dcloydd via Wikipedia

0

Lulu City in Rocky Mountain National Park (cont.)

Today all that remains are foundations, a few logs and a plaque in a lonely, scenic canyon within Rocky Mountain National Park.
To get there: From Grand Lake, drive north on U.S. 34 about 2 miles to the Rocky Mountain National Park entrance station. From there, drive another 9.5 miles to the Colorado River trailhead and park on the west side of the road. Restrooms are available at the trailhead, but no water. The hike to Lulu City is about 7.5 miles round trip.

To see more of Colorado's Ghost Towns, click here!

All Trails

0

5. Hollow, Pikes Peak

Located in a shadow-filled gulch beneath Pikes Peak, this litter-strewn former mining camp will give visitors a new appreciation for the hardships endured by its residents.

The tumbledown log shelters, surrounded by rusted cans and barrels, are covered in snow until midsummer.

0
Hollow

Hollow (cont.)

The cliffs a few hundred yards up the trail hide the miners’ former worksite: Oil Creek Tunnel, a now-blocked miners’ access reaching some 1,600 feet inside Pikes Peak, the legacy of a fruitless attempt to extract gold from within the mountain.

To get there: Ghost Town Hollow can be reached in a variety of ways, but the shortest route involves a shuttle up the Pikes Peak Highway to the Elk Park Trail cutoff, followed by a roughly 5 mile round-trip hike. From Elk Park, hikers descend a couple of miles on Elk Park Trail before reaching a sign directing them onto the path to this ghostly site.

0