The Crystal Ghost Town in Colorado, with an abandoned wooden mill perched over a bule lake in autumn with snow

21 Colorado Ghost Towns Where You Can Experience the Wild West

I’m a Colorado local, and in this guide, I share the 21 best ghost towns in Colorado. The state is famed for its gold rush era, and while some mining towns became tourist destinations, others died out as quickly as they sprang up.

Experiencing the state’s Wild West past is one of the best things to do in Colorado. This post covers a 21 ghost towns that still exist today, from well-preserved sites to relics being reclaimed by nature. Keep reading — I also share a few lesser-known spots that even most local don’t know about! 

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21 Best Ghost Towns in Colorado


Another Aspen-adjacent ghost town and the largest in Colorado.

The historic building of Blue Mirror Saloon with a scenic background
The Blue Mirror Saloon, one of several historic buildings in Ashcroft 

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Ashcroft was a silver mining town, and you can still see the saloon, post office, and hotel. Guides are on-site to tell the history of this Colorado ghost town here in the Wild West and help you learn more.

There is a suggested $5 donation for adults visiting the ghost town, but those 18 and under and active military personnel are free. Ashcroft does not allow dogs.

📚 Related Reading: 41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado in 2022 (By a Local)


A historic stop along the adventurous Independence Pass.

An abandoned wooden house surrounded by pine trees in the middle of Rocky Mountain
The Independence ghost town is in a beautiful location with grassy hills and the Rockies beyond

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In the summer, Independence makes a great stop along Independence Pass. The route is one of the best Colorado road trips, connecting Leadville and Buena Vista to Aspen

Interpretive stations tell the stories of the miners and others who lived in town. Read the harrowing story of the final group of miners who pulled apart their homes during a terrible winter storm. They turned the lumber into skis and abandoned the town for Aspen. 

There is a suggested $5 donation for adults visiting the ghost town, but those 18 and under and active military personnel are free.


A charming but hard-to-get-to town near Marble.

The Crystal Ghost Town in Colorado, with an abandoned wooden mill perched over a bule lake in autumn with snow
The stunning Crystal Mill

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Crystal is probably best known for pictures of the Crystal Mill. It was built in 1892 along the Crystal River. The fact that the town was so hard to access is what led to its downfall, and even now, it can be a tricky and dangerous route to this idyllic spot.


One of the only all-Black Colorado settlements, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Dearfield, southeast of Greeley, was an all-Black settlement that was founded by a businessman who wanted to create a haven for African-Americans. However, farming during the Great Depression was hard, and eventually, the area was abandoned. 

Animas Forks

An off-road adventure near Silverton.

The ghost town of Animas Forks with rocky terraces along the Alpine Loop in Colorado
Animas Forks is along the Alpine Loop near Silverton 

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You’ll want an off-road vehicle to get to this town along the Alpine Loop connecting Silverton, Ouray, and Lake City. Although people were drawn to the town for the mining, conditions were extreme. Each fall, the citizens all migrated down to Silverton to pass the harsh winters. If you visit the town now, you can find brochures and maps to learn more. 

👉 Don’t Miss: When it the area, visit nearby Colorado mountain towns for more history and things to do. 


Make another stop along the Alpine Loop near Silverton.

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Carson is even harder to reach than Animas Forks, and once again, you’ll need a 4-wheel drive vehicle with plenty of clearance. It’s located on Wager Gulch Trail, a side spur from the Alpine Loop. Old Carson is farther along the same road, just about at the top of the Continental Divide. 

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Mayflower Gulch

An easy hike to a former mining camp near Leadville.

A snow covered cabin with a scenic background in Mayflower Gulch during winter
Mayflower Gulch is a short hike from a scenic parking area

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Mayflower Gulch is one of the best hikes in Colorado and one of our favorite things to do near Leadville! Not far into the hike, you’ll see some remnants of mining buildings. Continue on to see the remains of the town and the Boston Mine.

Saint Elmo 

An easy-to-access town near Buena Vista.

Old buildings at the St Elmo Ghost Town in Colorado

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Saint Elmo is an easy town to access year-round. The road in town isn’t paved, but it is flat. Like many ghost towns in Colorado, St. Elmo was a mining town with plenty of saloons and a mostly male population. The town isn’t completely empty now – there’s a general store that sells drinks, snacks, and souvenirs, and a cabin available for rent. 

Tin Cup

A restored town that’s inhabited in the summer months.

A welcome wooden sign of the historic Tin Cup placed near the road
Tin Cup is a historic town that still has residents living in the old mining cabins (photo: R Kulawiak / Shutterstock)

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Tin Cup is on a lot of lists of ghost towns in Colorado, but strictly speaking, it isn’t one. Almost all of the homes in town are very old cabins that have been restored, so you’ll feel like you’re wandering through Colorado in the 1800s. Tin Cup is off Cottonwood Pass, and is one of the best things to do near Buena Vista!


This Telluride-area town may have been short on amenities, but it was big on views!

Abandoned wooden buildings surrounded by pine trees with a scenic view at the top of the mountain in Alta, Colorado
Alta has amazing views just beyond town!

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Alta sits high in the mountains on Alta Lakes Road, at 11,800 feet elevation. Several buildings remain from the mining town, which was active until 1948. You’ll want a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle, and the town is a short hike from where you’ll park.

📚 Related Reading: Things to Do in Telluride 

Teller City

Teller City is a spread-out ghost town in the Grand Lake area.

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Teller City is west of Rocky Mountain National Park, near Walden and about an hour from Grand Lake. You’ll want a high-clearance vehicle to get to Teller City. Once you’re there, enjoy wandering a bit — the homes and buildings that make up Teller City are spread throughout the wooded area.  


A Winter Park ghost town that’s a fun metal-detecting spot.

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Arrow, originally called Arrowhead, is at the top of Rollins Pass. Arrow isn’t one of the many Colorado mining towns, but was a railroad and lumber camp. There’s not a whole lot left to a view of the town, but people have found interesting coins and other artifacts with metal detectors. You’ll also get great views of nearby Winter Park, one of the best ski resorts in Colorado

Ohio City

This town near Gunnison still has some residents who live there.

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Ohio City is a former gold mining town with some original buildings remaining. The town also has a few residents and is a popular stop in summer for hikers, campers, and other outdoor adventurers.  


A well-preserved ghost town in Clear Creek Canyon.

The ghost town of Vicksburg along the highway with a scenic view of the mountains
Vicksburg is along Highway 24 between Leadville and Buena Vista

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Vicksburg is on the way to Clear Creek Reservoir, just off Highway 24. There’s an on-site museum that is open on occasion during the summer. Some of the cabins in the area are private and may be occupied. 

👉 Pro Tip: Winfield is another one of the nearby Colorado ghost towns to check out. 

Capitol City

This town near Lake City has two of the original buildings left.

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Capitol City still has a U.S. Post Office building and Lee’s Smelter Stack. There are also some kilns and the remains of outbuildings in the area. It’s close to private land, so be aware as you’re exploring.


A scenic Telluride ghost town with marmots and wildflowers.

Ruins of the buildings below the mountains in the ghost town of Tomboy
Tomboy is a small ghost town just outside of Telluride

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Tomboy is just five miles from Telluride, but on an unpaved road that’s best traveled by an all-terrain vehicle. Along with buildings to check out, you’ll get beautiful mountain views with wildflowers and you may spot local wildlife. 


An easily-accessible Teller County town.

Abandoned mining building at the top of a rocky mountain in Goldfield ghost town
An abandoned mining building near Goldfield

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Paved highways mean Goldfield is an easy spot to visit for all vehicles. The town has many historic buildings and homes to explore. The town does still have residents living there today, so be careful while wandering!


Once home to the world’s highest train tracks, this La Veta-area town has a storied history.

A small white chapel with a chimney surrounded by yellow leaves trees during the autumn season
A quaint chapel in Uptop

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Uptop is an unusual town because it had several industries throughout the years. It was abandoned after a safer highway was built through the Sangre de Cristos. Views from Uptop are incredible, as some of the most scenic Colorado 14ers are nearby. 


Stop near Central City to view these abandoned structures.

An abandoned wooden structure with snow in the fields of Nevadaville
Find more remains on the Historic Gilpin Tramway nearby 

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Nevadaville, once known as Nevada City, was a gold and silver mining town until its bust in the early 1900s. The buildings there are on private property, but you can walk down the streets and see them from the outside. The Mason Lodge in town is the only ghost town lodge in the state.  

Russell Gulch

A former mining town that’s one of the closest ghost towns to Denver.

Snow-covered buildings made with brick on a gloomy day in Russell Gulch during winter
Beautiful stonework at this ghost town near Idaho Springs!

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You can approach Russell Gulch from Idaho Springs if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, or from Central City in a two-wheel drive vehicle. In town, you’ll find an old brick schoolhouse, a barn, and some other mining remnants. 

South Park City

Learn about Colorado life in this town featured on the National Register of Historic Places.

An arch sign made of wood of South Park City at the entrance
South Park City is a replication of an 1880s mining town

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South Park City is more touristy than many of the ghost towns in Colorado. However, a lot of the abandoned ghost towns lack information and representations of what life may have been like for settlers. 

You’ll get all that here, in this replica town in Fairplay, Colorado. It features 44 buildings, depicting an 1800s mining town. Seven of the buildings are on their original sites, while many others were moved from mining camps and ghost towns in the area. 

FAQs About Colorado Ghost Towns

What is the best ghost town to visit in Colorado?

Ashcroft is the best ghost town to visit in Colorado. Ashcroft is well-preserved and is more easily accessible than other ghost towns in Colorado. It’s located near Aspen, and the Aspen Historical Society gives guided tours of the town’s jail, saloons, stable, and more. 

What is the largest ghost town in Colorado?

Ashcroft is the largest ghost town in Colorado. At its peak, in the late 1800s after a silver boom, Ashcroft had almost 2,500 residents and was bigger than Aspen.


Hopefully, this list of ghost towns in Colorado has inspired you to visit a few of them! Whether you want docents and interpretive signs or a completely abandoned town to explore, there’s something on this list for everyone. 

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