Last week it was all about the best hot springs in Colorado this week we are on to something spookier. Head west through the Rocky Mountains and travel back in time to when Colorado was in the height of the Gold Rush and a huge destination for those miners looking to strike big. Many of the ghost towns still known in Colorado are considered national historic treasures and are preserved as such. Although it seems that most of these towns remain stuck in their 19th century life, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still things happening. There are more than 50 ghost towns around Colorado to visit but we made a list of a few of the closest ones with some incredibly interesting history behind them.
5. Mount Vernon Ghost Town-Morrison, CO
Located in Morrison in the Matthews/Winters Park, Mount Vernon is considered one of Colorado’s first settlements, and at one time had dozens of cabins, two hotels, a saloon, general store, blacksmith and a school. Founded in 1859 by Dr. Joseph Castro, this town served as a staging area for miners heading west through the canyon to strike gold and get rich in the towns of Black Hawk and Central City. Looking to make a profit, Castro built a toll road connecting Mount Vernon with the mining camps, making it a stop on the Wells Fargo Express and allowed over fifty wagons to pass through the town each day in the two years it was operating.
Today you will find this area full of hikers, joggers, or mountain bikers, with not much more than a cemetery and two stone homes standing today. Jefferson County Open Space has protected and preserved the former townsite, as well as the important landscape surrounding Red Rocks and Dinosaur Ridge.
So many different Colorado ghost towns to explore.
4. Russell Gulch Ghost Town- Idaho Springs, CO
Hidden just over the mountain from Idaho Springs you will find Russell Gulch is a great ghost town, especially during the late spring through fall. This small town sitting at 9,150 feet elevation was founded by a northern Georgian gold miner, William Greeneberry Russell, in 1858, along with his brothers. After founding Auraria, CO on the bank of Cherry Creek River, where the Auraria Campus is now, he spurred the Pikes Peak Gold Rush. In the summer of 1859 he found placer gold in Russell Gulch valley, named in his honor. By September of that year, almost 900 men were mining the gulch.
Now that all remains of Russell Gulch is an old, brick schoolhouse, mining relics, a mule barn, some building foundations, and a few houses, as well as an IOOF Hall. In 2003 a disc golf course was built, hoping to attract a new form of recreation to the area and revitalize visitation.
3. Webster Ghost Town, Webster, CO
Head about 45 minutes southwest of Denver, you’ll find Webster, CO, a ghost town where only a few of the original buildings remain, with memories of other buildings standing just outside of Grant, Colorado. Although now quiet, this area was once bustling with miners as it became an important shipping station between Denver and the Snake River Mining Area. This was due to the toll road over Webster Pass, developed by William Emerson Webster and the Montezuma Silver Mining Co. in 1878.
This next town is one of our favorites.
2. Nevadaville Ghost Town-Central City, CO
Just up the hill from Central City, CO you will find the old ghost town of Nevadaville. Although all of the historic buildings are on private property and closed to the public, you can still walk around to view several original buildings. Back in the height of the gold rush, Nevadaville (originally known as Nevada City) was home to approximately 4,000 people, having a prime location so close to Central City. Once the gold and silver started running out, the town started to decrease and slowly “die”. It is now home to 6 people has the latest population report shows and is home to the only ghost town lodge in Colorado, the Mason Lodge #4, where meetings are still hosted to this day.
1. Apex Ghost Town- near Central City, CO
This once lively mining camp, Apex, sprung up after Richard Mackey prospected the area and found a rich ore vein with his last two sticks of dynamite. In its prime, this town had around 1,000 residents and more than one hundred businesses on their Main Street. In the 1800’s, Apex was considered the capital of the Pine Creek Mining District until two fires decimated a majority of the original town. Today we can find several historic structures still standing and are best visited from spring to late fall.
Whether you’re taking a long road trip around this beautiful state or looking for a fun day trip, these ghost towns are sure to show you a little bit about Colorado history plus add a little spookiness to it all. Share with us your favorite ghost town or any experiences you have had at one of these!