Gothic is an impressive ghost town surrounded by the West Elk Mountains, secluded just north of “Colorado’s last great ski town”. It’s accessible year round, but easiest when the snow melts off.
A handful of original structures remain in this picturesque, nearly all but deserted, townsite. A few current residents and a high-altitude field station call it home today. The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab operates currently around the townsite. Students spend the summer here studying the local ecosystem.
Gothic was a mining town supported by the region’s silver mines. An 1879 explosion in the area spread strands of “wire-silver” into the fields, attracting prospectors. It peaked in the late 1800’s with about 1000 locals, and boasted its own U.S. Post Office between 1879 and 1896. In 1880 President Ulysses S. Grant even visited the town. In its heyday there were around 200 buildings.
Horace Tabor, of the famed Tabor Opera House in Leadville, and the “Bonanza King of Leadville”, financed the town’s Elk Mountain Bonanza newspaper. However, once silver crashed, the town was all but deserted by 1914.
Only one man, Garwood Judd, remained for another 15 years. A movie was made about him 1928 called “The Man Who Stayed”. Also that year, Dr John Johnson bought the ghost town to create the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab. Original buildings were either cleared or restored.
From Crested Butte – Take Elk Ave (main street in downtown CB) to 6th street and make a left, heading north. Proceed on 6th St for a couple minutes until it turns into Gothic Road after it crosses Butte Ave. Follow County Road 317/Gothic Road for just over 7 miles north to reach the townsite.
Wintertime Gothic is often accessed by cross country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers. CB Motorsports even hosts a ghost town snowmobile tour.
Summertime is the favorite season to visit. If you’re into mountain biking, definitely check out the 14-mile 401 Trail, which surrounds the ghost town. It’s considered one of Colorado’s finest mountain biking trails.
Nearby Town: Crested Butte, CO
County: Gunnison County