Silverton is one of the more secluded mountain towns that you can visit, isolated deep in the San Juans. Downtown is full of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and places to stay. It can be a semi-ghost town during the winter weekdays but then gets more lively when Silverton Mountain opens on the weekends.
Summer is busier with so many awesome things to do around town, like the 4×4 Alpine Loop, which connects to Ouray and Lake City. Situated in San Juan County at 9,318 feet of elevation, Silverton had a population of 637 in 2010. It’s both the largest town and county seat in this secluded county of Colorado.
The town was legally established in 1874 and was made to be a mining town where people could rest after a hard day’s work. Silverton was incorporated on November 15, 1885. Originally, this tiny town in the San Juan Mountains only had one hundred people. Nowadays, the number is in the low thousands.
This was not an easy town to live in at the turn of the century, and a lot of the historical records available in town prove that point. Southwest Colorado is notorious for snowy winters and mining life was prone to mishaps. Things did get much easier by the 20th century.
Durango and Silverton Train – Departs daily from Durango, then makes a 2+ hour stop in Silverton, before returning to Durango. It’s one of the most famous narrow gauge railroads in Colorado.
Kendall Mountain Recreation Area – Year-round recreation, with skiing, ice skating, and cross country skiing in the winter.
Silverton Mountain Ski Area – Where the serious thrill-seekers go for skiing and snowboarding. It’s the steepest ski area Colorado and also gets some of the most snow.
Nowadays, Silverton is known for its natural beauty and friendly locals. If you want a taste of the great outdoors, Silverton has it in all directions. There are forests, hot springs, lakes, and rivers nearby. Exciting 4×4 trails are common, with many leading to nearby ghost towns. Jeep rentals are available in the area, as well as ATVs.
- There are a lot of camping opportunities in the national forests surrounding Silverton. There are free, dispersed campsites around the 4×4 Alpine Loop.
- Read about the camping near Silverton.
- The Animas River flows through the town providing fast access to great trout fishing right in town.
- Read about the hiking trails near Silverton.
Hotels and lodging:
- Grand Imperial Hotel – It was once one of the grandest hotels in southwest Colorado during its heyday.
- Teller House Hotel – This historic accommodations has a variety of room types in downtown Silverton.
- Read about the best hotels in Silverton.
May – Iron Horse Bicycle Classic – Historic bike race from Durango to Silverton, racing the Durango and Silverton train.
Activities near Silverton
Cross Country Skiing:
- Little Molas Lake (7mi)
- Potato Lake (17mi)
- Rio Grande National Forest
- San Juan National Forest
- Uncompahgre National Forest
- One Hundred Gold Mine (6mi)
- Molas Lake (5mi)
- Alpine Loop 4×4
- Cinnamon Pass (14mi)
- Coal Bank Pass (14mi)
- Engineer Pass (16mi)
- Million Dollar Highway
- Molas Pass (10mi)
- Ophir Pass 4×4 (9mi)
- Red Mountain Pass (10mi)
- San Juan Skyway
- Stony Pass (10mi)
- Durango (48mi)
- Hermosa (37mi)
- Lake City (37mi – summer only)
- Needleton (only a flag stop on D&SRR for backpackers)
- Ouray (23mi)
- Ridgway (34mi)
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