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Silverton - Colorado

High in the San Juans

 

Very high in the San Juan Range north of Durango, the whole town is designated a National Historic Landmark.

With a permanent population of 800, this living example of a Victorian mining town is complete with a fine old hotel (The Grand Imperial), a courthouse with a gold dome, a nostalgic main street complete with false fronts, old brick buildings and a passenger train station which still operates as the terminus for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, bringing travelers from Durango each day.

Silverton Snow Information:

Silverton Mountain

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Snow Conditions

   

Silverton Mountain, six miles from the town, has the highest elevation of any ski area in the U.S, and has just one long lift to a cirque at the elevation of 12,300' -- with hiking to 13,487'. Skiers are required to wear avalanche equipment when riding the lift. Silverton is unique in that certain times of the ski season it provides guided-only skiing with small numbers of skiers on a daily basis, and other times of year it allows unguided skiing. You'll meet only a few fellow skiers on the challenging slopes On a busy day, there may be 400 or so, and on slower days there may be as many as 80 enjoying the high mountain scenes and trails.

Silverton is busiest during summer days when the train is in and visitors have about two hours to eat, shop, look at the town and then return to their train cars. The wise ones stay overnight to fully sample the delights of this unique place. It is possible to drive one way and take the train one-way. Many groups of people do this by sharing the driving chores. Put this together with an overnight stay in one of Silverton's hotels or motels and you've got it made! For railway information and reservations, call (970) 387-5416 (Silverton), or (970) 247-2733 (Durango).

What to See & Do

Silverton is a time-capsule. In the late 1800s, gold and silver mines were developed, thus opening up several towns in this alpine area, among them Ouray and Lake City. Silverton, in those days, was a bustling, brawling town -- with 32 gambling halls and saloons and a street of brothels (Blair Street). Even now, the town is isolated by its location surrounded by the high San Juan Mountains, including Storm Peak (the highest with an elevation of 13,487 feet). The town itself is over 9,000 feet above sea level. The winters are exceedingly long in San Juan County and agriculture is nonexistent because of the very short growing season.

The town is located 43 miles north of Durango, on the scenic byway known as the San Juan Skyway. North of town is the short but challenging "Million Dollar Highway" to Ouray. Telluride is about four hours away.

Fishing in the area is pretty well restricted to several small lakes which do have good trout fishing. Molas, Little Molas and Andrews lakes are located a few miles south of Silverton, just off Highway 550. Several forest lakes are off the same highway north of Silverton along Forest Road #585. A trail heads from the South Mineral Campground along the South Fork of the creek to four little lakes where there are cutthroat trout in good number.

A popular summer activity is jeep touring, using the network of old mining roads and trails through the high alpine area. These roads include the Black Bear Pass Road (west of Hwy. 550, near the Red Mountain summit) and the Scenic Byway which loops from Silverton to Ouray and Lake City. The byway, suited only for 4WD vehicles, is reached by driving to the north end of Silverton and continuing past the mine operations, along the creek.

Ophir Pass Road, west of Silverton, is a relatively easy 4WD experience and connects the area with Telluride. The road is found five miles north of town via Hwy. 550. It passes the townsite of Old Ophir which is 3.5 miles from the pass. A few people still live here although the new Ophir townsite was developed to the west near Telluride. For jeep rentals, call (970) 387- 5721 or 387 9990. For jeep tours, phone (970) 387 5372.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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Guide to Silverton, CO

Wyman Hotel, (970) 387-5372 or 800-609-7845
This is the most comfortable and satisfying of the regular hotels in Silverton. It's located at the corner of Greene and 14th and each of the 18 rooms has a private bath. The building first opened in 1902, and has a long history in providing accommodations for visitors to Silverton. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. A full breakfast is served, and video movies are available to guests. This is a no-smoking hotel.

Teller House, 1250 Greene Street, (970) 387-5423
This small hotel is located on top of the French Bakery Restaurant, and that is where guests have a full breakfast as part of the room fare. There are well furnished private rooms as well as dorms for men and women. Hostelers are welcome.

Wingate House, 1045 Snowdon Street, (970) 387-5713
This bed and breakfast home is an authentic restored Victorian, built in 1886. While the beds are in the home, the full breakfast is served at the French Bakery Restaurant. The kitchen in the house is available to guests.

Camping

Silverton Lakes Campground, (970) 387-5721
With RV hookups and tent sites, this campground is located northeast of Silverton with only a short walk to the Animus River. There is a store & laundry and jeeps may be rented here.

Nearby towns and attractions,
Go to
Durango, Cortez, Telluride, Ouray, Mesa Verde N.P.

 

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