Colorado: Silverton & Ouray

In late May, we headed to south-central Colorado for our annual white water trip. It was amazing as usual. Along the way, we visited two of my favorite towns in all of Colorado: Silverton and Ouray.

Based on my past experiences and those from this recent trip, I figured that it would be fitting to share some of the things I recommend checking out if you ever find yourself in the Silverton and Ouray area…

Part One: Silverton

– The Colorado Trail… I’ve talked about Segment 24 of the CT before, and I’ve mentioned its astounding beauty. If you are going to do any section of the trail, this is the one! We started at Molas Lake Campground

Views from Segment 24 of the CT
Views from Segment 24 of the CT

and hiked in and back, for a total of 14 miles. (We were going to do 30 miles and make it a backpacking trip, but lingering early summer snow pack along the upper parts of the trail prevented this.) Regardless, it’s one of my all time favorite hikes.

– Animas Forks… This mining ghost town was abandoned in the 1920’s when the mine it centered around shut down. There are many ghost towns all over the state and country, but what makes this one so unique is how well preserved it is. Walk through the still standing houses and right up next to the mine, after enjoying the mountaintops beside you in every direction. When we visited, we

Animas Forks ghost town
Animas Forks ghost town

were the only people there and even around the area for miles! The town is only about 12 miles northeast of Silverton, but the unimproved trail leading there makes it hardly accessible to anything less than 4-wheel drive vehicles and creates a longer journey. (The road is moderate off-road terrain – We took my AWD Subaru Forester and did just fine.)

– Silverton Lakes Campground… We decided to camp here after visiting Animas Forks during the day. I highly recommend this place! It is right on the edge of the sleepy town of Silverton (but far enough away

Silverton Lakes Campground
Silverton Lakes Campground

to feel in the wilderness). The campground is surrounded by impressive mountain peaks, is right up next to the Animas River, and there’s even an old abandoned mine overlooking your camping spot.

Part Two: Ouray

– Bear Creek Trail… This is the trail I always tell EVERYONE to hike because it’s amazing. The trail starts out off of Highway 550 just south of Ouray. There is a turnout for parking. You will hike up and over the

Bear Creek Trail
Bear Creek Trail

highway and gain elevation steadily (about 1,000ft within the first mile) before it levels off a bit. After this workout, you are rewarded with amazing views of the gorge and towering mountain peaks. Hike on to explore the remains of Grizzly Bear Mine (about 2.4 miles in) and Yellow Jacket Mine (about 4.2 miles in). If you are going late enough in the year to avoid snow pack, keep going up to Engineer Pass.

– Peak Mountain Guides… Whether you’ve never climbed before or just want to improve your skills, I highly recommend this place. They offer one-on-one lessons and take you to local

Peak Mountains Guides climbing
Peak Mountains Guides climbing

outdoor spots for sport climbing. And because all of the lessons are one-on-one, PMG tailors each session to your preferences and skill set. Our guide, Jim Turner, seemed more like a friend than instructor – which made the trip that much more fun. And if you are headed out that way in the winter, set up an ice climbing session with PMG for a once in a lifetime experience in the world class Ouray Ice Park.  (Side Note: If you’ve never gone climbing, I highly recommend you give it a shot. It’s one of my favorite hobbies and is actually very safe if done properly.)

– Ouray Brewery… Delicious food, friendly people, and great beer! What more could you ask for? The brewery values its customers as much as its beer. (They even gave me a free logo pint glass when a hornet flew in the front door and landed on our table. Not their fault at all!) Many different seasonal brews can be found on the chalk board throughout the year, and you really can’t beat the views from the upstairs patio! Check it out for sure if you are ever in town.

Bear Creek Trail
Bear Creek Trail

Long story short: We had a great time! So go forth and explore more. And go to Silverton and Ouray because they will make you happy… I guarantee it.

— Holly

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