Silverton Colorado – Experience the Old West at its best
Once known for mines, prospectors, saloons, and a seedy red-light district, Silverton (a National Historic Landmark) has transformed into the place to be for extreme adventure sports. This reputation is primarily due to the steep terrain, an annual average 400” of snow, and Silverton Mountain. Add to that the historic ghost town of Animas Forks, the Alpine Loop hiking trail, The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and enough fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, and biking to keep the most adventurous occupied for years. Silverton, secluded at 9,318 feet, will have you coming back to explore the magnificent mountains, clear cold rivers, and charming Victorian history, year after year.
Located in Southwestern Colorado, Silverton (the only town in San Juan County, population 500) is a short distance from a number of popular attractions including Ouray, Telluride, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and the Gunnison Gorge NCA.
Top 5 Day Trips from Silverton
Within two hours or less, there are many amazing day trips from Silverton that should not be missed.
Million Dollar Highway and San Juan Skyway
The name says it all. This drive offers up “million dollar” views that will leave you breathless, taking you through some of Colorado’s most spectacular mountain passes and charming towns. The 24 mile section between Silverton and Ouray is by far the most stunning and dramatic portion of this classic drive. Going south from Ouray as you approach the summit of Red Mountain, you will pass old mines and abandoned buildings, including the ghost towns of Red Mountain Town and Ironton.
Also along this route are the trailheads for the Alpine loop and Black Bear Pass. For the more adventurous traveler who wants to explore the backcountry, make sure you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive and high clearance. As you leave Ouray, you will pass the famous Ouray Ice Park on the right. Take a right at Camp Bird Road for access to the Yankee Boy Basin, or take the scenic route to Telluride via Imogene Pass – the 2nd highest drivable pass in Colorado at 13,100 feet.
Should you choose to do the San Juan Skyway from the other direction, take Highway 62 west off of 550 in the historic ranching town of Ridgway. Located in a beautiful open valley with expansive views of the Cimarron Range and the San Juan Mountains, Ridgway sits at the crossroads between Ouray, Montrose and Telluride. Known for its family friendly feel, Ridgway puts you right in the heart of regional outdoor adventures. Only minutes away from the San Miguel River, the Uncompahgre, and Ridgway State Park, Ridgway is the perfect place to stop, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.
A perfect day trip from Silverton, Ouray is a historic and charming Victorian era mining town, dubbed the “Little Switzerland of America.” Only about 45 minutes drive from Silverton, come to Ouray to soak in the natural hot springs, hike miles of established trails or go 4 wheeling in the “Jeep Capital of the World.”
Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Gunnison Gorge
A 90 minute drive lands you in the heart of one of the longest, narrowest, and deepest gorges in the world. Only 11 miles from Montrose you will witness 2 million years of work by the Gunnison River, carving some of North America’s oldest exposed rock and steepest cliffs. The Gunnison River lures fly fishers of all experience levels with its remote river terrain, wildlife, and amazing fishing. The Gunnison River is the fifth largest tributary of the Colorado River, 164 miles (264 km) long, with significant historic sites, including some of Colorado’s oldest Native American rock art. The Gunnison Gorge is the crown jewel of fishing on the Gunnison River, with 14.5 miles of Gold Medal waters and natural wonder, nestled in a National Conservation Area. Whether float fishing, fly fishing, or rafting, explore a multiday adventure on this section for the experience of a life time.
Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range
Whether you are a backcountry enthusiast or an RV traveler, Owl Creek Pass and the Cimarron Range offer everyone a rare and unspoiled wilderness adventure. If you seek solitude, backcountry hiking, camping, or high alpine fly fishing, this is your place. Highlights include wild rainbow and cutthroat trout on the three forks of the Cimarron River, the scenic and remote Silverjack Reservoir, along with great camping and fishing below the dam at the Big Cimarron Campground. The area boasts excellent public access and is only about a 1 hour drive from Ouray.
From Silverton, on your way to any of the top five day trips, you will pass through the town of Ridgway. Centrally located on the main drag in Ridgway, RIGS is the only full service fly shop and guide service in Ouray and Montrose Counties. Located only 45 minutes from Silverton, 30 from Montrose, and 40 from Telluride, RIGS is a great place to stop for supplies and advice.
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a trip the whole family will never forget. This historic steam locomotive train ride has been in operation for more than 120 years. Enjoy 45 miles of Southwest Colorado’s canyons, abandoned mining camps, and the steepest peaks around. The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is an ideal family getaway.
Since its humble beginnings as a rowdy mining town, Telluride has always been a special kind of place. Now a cultural icon, visit Telluride for some of Colorado’s most spectacular scenery, a world class mountain resort, world famous festivals, culinary delights and outdoor activities that will leave you breathless.