Who does not enjoy a chilling ghost story? Like the rest of the southwestern United States, Colorado is rife with abandoned settlements. In the mountains around Ouray, you can find remnants of abandoned mining towns and the roads that once connected them. Most require four-wheel drive, but a few can be navigated by 2-wheel drive vehicles. If you so dare, here are a few ghost towns that are accessible by anyone or vehicle:
Among the ghost towns in the area, Ironton is the most convenient to visit because it is only seven miles away from where we are staying in Ouray, Colorado. In the nineteenth century, when it had a population of 1,000, Ironton served as a major transportation hub for the Red Mountain District and welcomed many visitors. The decline in mining activity left Ironton’s bars, hotels, and mines empty.
Located 21 miles from Ouray and just past Lake City, Capitol City is perched high in the wilderness of the mountains. In the late summer and early fall, you can reach it via Engineer Pass Road. The old post office and Lee’ Smelter Stack are the only two original structures still standing. In the past, Capitol City was a town with high ambitions; it wanted to be the capital of Colorado. Originally known as Galena City when it was founded in 1877, it had only 800 residents. With the price of silver starting to fall, some mysterious lawsuits, and difficult access to the town all contributed to Capital City’s demise.
31 miles from Ouray, in the San Juan Mountains at an elevation of 11,200 feet, is Animas Forks. The town was named after the nearby Animas River by the first settlers who arrived around 1873. With 30 cabins, a hotel and saloon, a post office, a general store, and even a local newspaper, this once-bustling mining community quickly turned into a ghost town as a result of the oppressive weather and temperatures brought on by its high altitude.
This update is provided by Twins Peaks Lodge & Hot Springs, which offers Ouray lodging accommodations. After a night of exploring ghost towns, our Ouray Colorado hot springs provide guests a well deserved relaxing soak.