The Ouray, Silverton and Telluride areas are full of ghost towns. Due to the unforgiving elements of winter, most ghost towns in the area are now bare, with only a few buildings remaining. However, all these ruins contain echoes of the past. Though many of these ghost towns are in rural terrain only accessible by four-wheel drive, some can be reached by a passenger car. Here is a list of towns accessible by anyone or vehicle, if they so dare:
South of Telluride, Alta was a mining camp that during the gold rush had 100 residents. Cabins, a boarding house and outhouses remain. A gorgeous lake is just up the road.
Animas Forks, founded in 1875 at 11,180 feet, was previously the world’s highest city. Animas Forks served various mines, notably the Gold Prince in Placer Gulch’s higher end. Once a booming town in the late 1900’s, it largely faded by the 1920s. Avalanches frequently wrecked buildings and prevented tourists from visiting and residents from leaving. Many buildings still survive today.
Camp Bird Mine
Between 1896 and 1910, Camp Bird Mine produced about $26,000,000 in gold. The mill itself was sold to Mongolian Gold in 1995. The mill was disassembled and relocated to Mongolia.
Red Mountain Town
Red Mountain Town had up to 10,000 residents during its heyday. That included over 100 businesses, a jail, schools, newspapers, saloons and gambling halls. Winters were brutal, so only the toughest stayed. Regardless of the harsh conditions, this location yielded over $30 million in gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper.
Founded in 1883, Ironton was a prosperous town with a stage and supply center, as well as a transportation hub for many. However, the sulfuric acid in the water ate away at the metal mining machinery. This was the main reason for the mine closures in this area. Still, several buildings remain.
Joker Tunnel and Boarding House
Founded in 1902 with the intention of draining water from rich mines to the south. This lovely boarding house serves as a proud legacy of the town’s affluent mining era.
Be exceedingly wary of any unguarded portals or shafts as you explore these abandoned mining sites. Please leave the sites in the same condition as you found them. Do not contribute to the future degradation of these sites by removing any historical artifacts.