Exploring ghost towns and goldmines
There are some wonderful ghost towns and abandoned mining sites to explore in the San Juan Mountains. The remains of once-thriving towns can still be seen and visited, places like Animas Forks, Ironton, Red Mountain Town and Alta.
Red Mountain Town is one of the most accessible sites, located about a half mile off the Million Dollar Highway (US 550) north of the summit of Red Mountain Pass. Perhaps as many as 5000 people lived here at its peak when gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper poured out of the mines.
The remains of Campbird, Tom Walsh’s legendary mine, can be found in the Yankee Boy basin. It eventually was the second largest gold mine in the state of Colorado. Nearby the remains of Sneffels can also be seen.
Tomboy on the other side of Imogene Pass was at one time home to over 900 people. The town closed in 1927 when the mine ran out but the remains of the town are still there.
These are tangible ties to Colorado’s mining history. Most sites are still accessible although they are disappearing due to age, extreme winter weather, and sadly vandalism. Be sure to bring your camera.
Be sure to ask about the Ghost Towns and Goldmines tour offered through Switzerland of America. This day long tour will take you over Imogene Pass to Tomboy or Alta We are happy to arrange this tour for individuals or groups.