There is no shortage of things to do while experiencing the outdoors in Colorado
, but did you know this state is also known for its abandoned ghost towns? Gold, silver, and other metals brought thousands westward in the late 1800s to try to strike it rich. These boomtowns popped up almost overnight and just as quickly seemed to dry up with the mines.
While few — if any — people remain in these Colorado ghost towns. In many cases, the remains of the buildings and old mines still litter the mountainside waiting to be rediscovered. For a chance to get off of the beaten path while still exploring in your RV
, a trip to visit these ghost towns is sure to provide a vacation to remember.
5 Best Ghost Towns in Colorado
While there are so many to choose from, here are five of the best Colorado ghost towns to visit on your next pass through the Rocky Mountain chain.
Teller City was once a major town in what is now known as the North Park region of Colorado. The discovery of silver in 1879 brought over 1,500 people to the area in just a few short years. Teller City once was home to a 40-room hotel, 27 saloons, and hundreds of log cabins at the height of its popularity. But by 1902, the town was completely abandoned after the silver was mostly gone. Take the loop trail to see the remains and foundations of the old cabins.
RV Parks Nearby
- Ranger Lakes Campground. Just a short walk from the Ranger Lakes fishing areas, this small state forest campground boasts 31 electric sites and two trailheads accessible from the campground.
- Stillwater Campground. Enjoy amazing views of Lake Granby from this campground. Loop A has electric sites fitting for RVs of up to 30 feet.
Visit a Cruise America location in Colorado
to see what’s left of this once shining mountain town.
Capitol City certainly never got to be the capital of Colorado, but not without effort from its founder, George Lee, in 1877. Once thriving at over 800 people, Capitol City has but two buildings remaining in the remote mountains.
You can easily make the drive to Capitol City from Lake City, Colorado. Just head west on Engineer Pass Road for about nine miles, and you’ll make it to the site. Be forewarned; this access road is only open from late spring through fall.
RV Parks Nearby
- Henson Creek RV Park. Located right on the edge of Lake City on Henson Creek, you can’t get much closer to this abandoned Colorado ghost town than this.
- Highlander RV Campground. This RV campground is gorgeous and boasts a natural waterfall!
Start your Cruise America RV Rental journey to some of the best ghost towns in Colorado from the Colorado Springs
Independence is one of the best-known Colorado ghost towns due to its excellent preservation. There is a suggested donation of $5 per adult, but often there is someone onsite in the summer to provide guided tours. See the stables, the general store, and the old restored cabin while taking in the rich history of this short-lived gold-boom town. Like many of these high pass roads, there is no access to this ghost town in the winter months, so plan accordingly.
RV Parks Nearby
- Gateway RV Park. This campground is perfectly situated along the Roaring Fork River and an excellent place to set up to explore the high mountains.
- Sugar Loafin RV Park. For a high mountain getaway, Sugar Loafin is surrounded by excellent fishing, hiking, boating, and views. If that’s not enough, there’s a nightly ice cream social!
Before you head almost 11,000 feet into the mountains, stop at Cruise America RV
in Castle Rock, Colorado, to pick up your home away from home.
Unlike many others on the list, St. Elmo is not one of Colorado’s abandoned ghost towns. A small population still lives there today. It’s partly for this reason that the town is so well preserved and also tremendously easy to access year-round.
There are 43 buildings still scattered and even a general store in operation during the summer months. In its height, the Murphy Mine produced millions of dollars worth of gold. Now the old mining roads are used as trails for off-roading vehicles.
RV Parks Nearby
- Colorado Dream Ranch RV Park. With 67 full hookup sites, this is an excellent place to stay awhile in the mountains. Enjoy great amenities such as the onsite cafe and trading post.
- Chalk Creek Campground. All RV sites are electric-only at this campground, but some are directly along Chalk Creek for a peaceful campsite.
St. Elmo is only about two hours south of Independence. Make this a stop on your way from Cruise America in Colorado Springs
Animas Forks was another once vivid mining community high in the mountains along the Animas River. The allure of gold and silver brought almost 500 people to its most populous. Unfortunately, high-altitude weather and a dry mine led the people away from Animas Forks and onto more prosperous lands by the early 1900s.
Now, several buildings remain. They are in a fragile condition, but you can go inside and explore the buildings with the provided interpretive brochures. Animas Forks is not far from Capitol City along the same Engineer Pass Road. It would be easy to explore both towns in the summer with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
RV Parks Nearby
Rent an RV
- Silverton Lakes RV Resort. This RV resort is loaded with amenities onsite, and that will help you explore off-site as well. It has plenty of full hookup sites and pull-through sites for larger RVs.
- Ouray Riverside Resort. Many refer to this area as the Switzerland of the US. You may enjoy the hot springs and six different types of RV sites all year round.
from the Cruise America location in south Colorado Springs to get a jump start on your mountain adventure.
Best Time to Go on an RV Trip to See Ghost Towns in Colorado
Many of the roads that lead to the best Colorado ghost towns are among the highest-altitude driving sites in the continental US. That said, plan your RV trip
between late May to late November to have the best chance at passable road conditions.
It is important to be mindful of which dirt roads are passable in your rig and which ones may be more suited for high-clearance 4X4s, such as Jeeps or other ATVs. Lastly, make sure not to stray too far onto these unpaved mountain roads in dark or wet conditions to avoid getting stranded.
Explore Abandoned Towns in Colorado with Cruise America
The Rocky Mountain range is beautiful. Exploring these abandoned ghost towns of Colorado is a rich historical experience that also provides outstanding views of the landscape that’s off the beaten Interstate path.
With Cruise America
, you won’t have to worry about finding a hotel or sticking to expensive resort towns while high up in the mountains. With safe RVs that you can trust and are equipped with homelike amenities onboard, you can feel free to explore further and get lost in the beauty of Colorado. Call or visit a Colorado Cruise America location today to start planning your adventure