With an estimated population of just over 300 as of 2019, Creede is the epitome of a small mountain town. But what it lacks in people it more than makes up for in grandiose natural offerings.
Creede is one of the most picturesque towns in Southwest Colorado, with adventurous activities year-round. The downtown strip is nestled at the foot of a stunning, narrow canyon at 8,799 ft. It looks like a Wild West town, which it definitely was. In its heyday, it was one of the craziest boom towns in Colorado.
Summer is the busy season, but the town does attract snowmobilers and others looking for a peaceful place to escape to in the winter. Public land surrounds Creede nearly everywhere, so camping and recreation are easy to find. There are several lakes and rivers nearby, in addition to hiking trails.
A former mining town established in 1890, Creede, at times, exceeded 10,000 residents. Miner’s began settling the area in the 1870s. The original town was directly at the base of the canyon and Jimtown, was where downtown Creede is now. Today its permanent population is about 400.
At night there are no policemen to interfere with the vested right of each citizen to raise as much Cain as he sees fit… and 3/4’s of the population are of that kind that does see fit. – 1892 newspaper
Creede was founded by Nicholas C. Creede back in 1890 when he discovered a silver deposit in the area. He was the one popular for the quote, “Holy Moses! I’ve struck it rich!”
Almost overnight, the people had started gathering in the region in the hopes of striking the “treasure.” This is when the “Creede Camp” was formed. All in all, it was one of the biggest mining camps in this era, with people ranging from 6,000 to 10,000. Since the town multiplied, they had to appoint marshals to control boisterous citizens.
They structured municipal meetings led by the committees appointed by the townspeople. The other problem the town had was transportation. There were no rail transports at the time and supplies were being delivered by wagons from Del Norte. The town couldn’t afford to create its own railroad because of the over-expansion they did in such a short period of time.
The person who solved this was David Moffat in the 1880s. He had mine holdings in the area, and it was imperative to have cheap railway transport to export the goods. He funded the Wagon Wheel Gap to Creede and expanded his business to transportation. When he recovered the cost of development, he deeded the line to the railroad.
Creede’s fortune turned tides in the early 1900s as the gauge line from Alamosa to Creede was replaced by a new one over La Veta Pass. The original traffic was then converted, and Creede’s nightlife, gambling centers, and other local businesses have died down. Now, the town serves as a historic tourist center. It’s quite remote, but the travel is definitely worth it.
Bachelor Historic Loop – An 17-mile alpine loop through Creede’s old mining camps. This is a must-see if you’re in Creede and it’s just above the town. The whole loop doesn’t take much more than an hour, depending on if you stop.
Rio Grande River – This well-known river has its headwaters nearby the Rio Grande Reservoir close to Creede. This waterway passes directly through town offering convenient fishing access. There are also several sections popular for whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande River.
Silver Thread Scenic Byway – Seventy-five stunning miles from Lake City to South Fork. Discover waterfalls, mines, and natural landmarks along its route.
- Primitive car camping spots exist on many of the hillsides above town. Several great spots exist near the Bachelor Loop. Head toward it from downtown and take right at Loop to old Creede. Follow this 2wd, dirt road and look for free spots.
- Palisades is a nice campground between Creede and South Fork. Take Hwy 149 south for 12 miles. The campgrounds sit just past Wagon Wheel Gap, beside the Rio Grande River. It’s usually open later in the season than some others.
- Marshall Park and the Rio Grande campgrounds are toward the north on Hwy 149, less than 15 minutes.
- Read about the camping near Creede.
- The Rio Grande passes by Creede with plenty of spots to cast a line.
- The headwaters of the Rio Grande and the Rio Grande Reservoir are just over an hour away. Take Hwy 149 north for 20 miles to Co Rd 520. Take left, and follow to the lake.
- Road Canyon Reservoir Number 1 is a quicker option, on the way to Rio Grande Reservoir.
- Bachelor Loop in town has several established treks.
- Read about the hiking trails near Creede.
Hotels and lodging:
- Read about the best hotels in Creede.
Most of the businesses remain open all year. Creede has many restaurants to choose from for such a small town. Try Tommyknocker Tavern for awesome BBQ and atmosphere, Kip’s Grill for tasty Mexican, and the Best Little Dog House on South Main Street for quick burgers and brats.
Activities near Creede
Biking / Hiking:
- Continental Reservoir (31mi)
- Rio Grande National Forest
- Rio Grande Reservoir (31mi)
- Rio Grande River
- Santa Maria Reservoir (28mi)
- Wheeler Geologic Area
- Bachelor Historic Loop (Mine Tour)
- Silver Thread Byway
- Slumgullion Pass (40mi)
- Spring Creek Pass (33mi)
- Stony Pass 4×4 (40mi)
State Wildlife Areas:
- Alamosa (68mi)
- Del Norte (37mi)
- Lake City (50mi)
- Monte Vista (51mi)
- Pagosa Springs (63mi)
- South Fork (21mi)
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