Overlooking view of Silverton in Colorado during fall season

25 Best Things to Do in Silverton, CO (in 2022)

Silverton occupies less than one square mile, so you may be surprised by the variety of things to do in Silverton. Regardless of season or budget, this town in the San Juan Mountains offers plenty to explore.

Historic sites and tours are abundant, as are outdoor activities. I’m a Colorado local, and in this article, I’ll share with you my take on the 25 best things to do in Silverton, CO.

Let’s dive in!

👉 Jump to: Best Things | Winter Activities | Summer Activities | Food & Drink

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25 Best Things to Do in Silverton

Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Tour

Climb aboard for family fun

The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad passing along the Animas River
The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad chugging along the Animas River (photo: Bob Pool / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: E 10th St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 247-2733 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens May 2022 | Entrance: $99+ adults, $65+ under 12, free under 4 | 👉 Browse Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad scenic tours

The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is one of the town’s most popular tourist attractions. This steam-powered locomotive travels along the same tracks once used to transport mined ore. Now, from mid-May through the end of October, tourists board vintage cars to witness spectacular views of the San Juan Mountains.

👉 Pro Tip: If staying in Silverton, note that the railroad is a one-way trip to Durango. Buy returning bus tickets to avoid hitchhiking back to town!  

Animas Forks Ghost Town

Experience a famed ghost town

View of cabins in Animas Forks Ghost Town
Well-preserved cabins in Animas Forks

📍 Map It: 37.9323° N, 107.5700° W 

In 1873, Animas Forks was a seasonal home to roughly 450 residents. The mining town had a bustling general store, post office, saloon, hotel, and 30 log cabins. But due to a series of busts, it became a ghost town by 1920. 

You can reach this site by driving the unpaved Alpine Loop 15 miles into the backcountry. Peer into the past as you wander through the empty, historic structures.

👉 Love Ghost Towns? Take a Jeep tour to La Plata City, another abandoned mining town in the area.

Greene Street

Stroll downtown Silverton

View of the colorful Greene Street with cars parked on it
(photo: MisterStock / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: Greene Street, Silverton, CO 81433 | Hours: 6:30 am – 11 pm daily

Greene Street is a colorful collection of historic buildings. Each has been converted into quaint restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, and accommodations. 

Visit the impressive lobby of the Grand Imperial Hotel, decorated with Victorian furnishings. At The Bent Elbow Hotel, a honky tonk piano plays, and classic comfort is served. 

Before you go, pick up souvenirs at the Silverton Train Store, Fetch’s Mining and Mercantile, and other charming gift shops.

Ice Lake Trail

A challenging hike that rewards you with epic views

Scenic view from the Ice Lake and the mountains around it
Ice Lake, lower basin, and the surrounding mountains

📍 Map It: 37.8094° N, 107.8117° W 

The strenuous 8.3-mile hike along Ice Lakes Trail gains nearly 3,000 feet in elevation, but the views are worth the effort. Park at the dirt lot across from South Mineral Campground, then hike to the lower basin. Past the first lake, you’ll see waterfalls and lush wildflowers.

Views continue to amaze as you reach Ice Lake. The dramatic mountaintops of Golden Horn, Pilot Knob, and Vermillion Peak surround the aquamarine pool.

👉 Love Hiking Trails? Hike an extra 1.1 miles northeast to reach Island Lake or head 1.75 miles south to Fuller Lake.

Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour

Ride a mine train into historic tunnels

View of the tunnel underground in Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
(photo: Lost_in_the_Midwest / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: 721 County Road 4A, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-5444 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens May 2022 | Entrance: $28 adults, $14 under 13, free under 5 

On this tour, an authentic mine train will take you into the heart of Galena Mountain. Here, more than a century ago, prospectors sought out gold. 

Learn the history of the site and watch equipment demonstrate how miles of underground tunnels were formed. The veins of colorful minerals sparkle in the light of headlamps, amazing visitors. 

Above ground, you can pan for a valuable souvenir. Keep whatever bits of silver, copper, and gold you may find!

🚂 Read Next: 8 Best Train Rides in Colorado

Million Dollar Highway

Take the famous scenic drive  

View of the Million Dollar Highway to Silverton
The Million Dollar Highway leading to Red Mountain Pass

📍 Map It: US-550, Silverton, CO 81433 

The Million Dollar Highway is a 25-mile section of the scenic San Juan Skyway, connecting Silverton to Ouray. The Million Dollar Highway is one of the best road trips in Colorado, but is also known to be a nerve-wracking drive, full of hairpin turns through the high country. 

Drivers, stay alert and if traveling in the winter months, use a 4WD vehicle. If you need to rent, compare rates with Discover Cars, our preferred partner.

📚 Related Reading: Taking a road trip? Read our guide to discover more fun things to do in Colorado!

Silverton Mountain Ski Area

Ski backcountry powder 

View of people on top of the Silverton Mountain Ski Area

📍 Map It: 6226 State Hwy 110, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-5706 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 3 pm daily, Closed Mondays and Tuesdays 

Expert and advanced skiers will love Silverton Mountain, where the powder is deep and the crowds are limited. Having a single lift and ungroomed trails, this probably isn’t an ideal location for families, nor beginner skiers and riders. 

Carry an avalanche pack, and from December through mid-March, note that a guide is required. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, reserve a heli-drop run and ski exclusive backcountry terrain!

While definitely not for everyone, for advanced skiers there is no denying Silverton Mountain is one of the best places to ski in Colorado.

Christ of Mines Shrine

Honor the San Juans’ mining history 

View of a Miners Shrine sign in Silverton
(photo: Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: 258 15th St #252, Silverton, CO 81433 

A 16-foot marble statue of Jesus Christ overlooks the town of Silverton, Colorado. Known as the Christ of Mines Shrine, it was erected in 1959 to honor past miners and the industry’s importance within the San Juans. 

To visit this remarkable work of art, visit the Anvil Mountain hillside and walk just a few hundred yards from the lot. 

⛰️ Read Next: Best Mountain Towns in Colorado

National Historic Landmark District

Learn from local guides 

View from the National Historic Landmark District in Silverton
(photo: Olga Lyubochkina / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: 1557 Greene Street, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-5609 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens May 2022

The mining town of Silverton, Colorado is a National Historic Landmark in itself. The same distinction applies to the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Mayflower Mill. 

Purchase a Heritage Pass to gain discounted entry to the Mill, Old Hundred Gold Mine, San Juan County 1902 Jail, and Mining Heritage Center.

Blair Street

Walk the wild side of town

Welcome sign to Blair Street in Silverton, Colorado
(photo: melissamn / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: Blair Street, Silverton, CO 81433 | Hours: 9 am – 11 pm daily

Back in the Old West days, Silverton was geographically divided. Law-abiding churchgoers occupied Greene Street. Meanwhile, the town’s gamblers and dance-hall girls filled the saloons on “Notorious Blair Street.” 

Though brothels are now hotels and this rowdy crowd is long gone, visitors can still sense the era’s charm. Visit restaurants and shops including The Bent Elbow, The Avon, Old Arcade, and The Eureka Station.  

Winter Activities in Silverton, CO

Kendall Mountain Ski Area

Ski beginner and family-friendly slopes

View of ski equipment in Kendall Mountain Ski Area

📍 Map It: 1 Kendall Pl, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-5522 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 4 pm daily, closed Monday – Thursday | Entrance: $26 adults, $18 under 19, free under 6 

If the backcountry terrain at Silverton Mountain is too intimidating, head to Kendall Mountain Ski Area. Entry is affordable, and you can even purchase half-day passes. Families and beginners will love the groomed green and blue trails accessible from the chair lift. 

👉 Pro Tip: After a morning of skiing, rent a pair of skates at the Kendall Mountain ice rink! Finish the wintery day with a cup of hot cocoa from the Lift Shack. 

Snowmobile

Glide through deep powder

View of a man driving a snowmobile in Silverton

📍 Map It: 957 Greene St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 247-3706 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 6 pm daily 

Even in the winter, the off-road vehicle companies in Silverton stay busy. Rather than a Jeep or ATV, rent a personal snowmobile from San Juan Backcountry. The engines in these sleds are powerful, allowing you to ride up and down the powder slopes.

Prefer riding with an expert? Pirates Backcountry Adventures offers guided snowmobile tours. Their vehicles can accommodate both single and double riders, perfect for couples and families with children over the age of 4. 

Sleigh Ride

Experience holiday magic 

View of a sleigh with people on it

📍 Map It: 51 Haviland Lake Rd, Durango, CO 81301 | Phone: (970) 844-4049 | Website | Hours: 2 pm – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $79 adults, $69 under 13, free under 5

Take a delightful horse-drawn sleigh ride into the San Juan National Forest! Buck’s Livery, located at Bears Ranch, is a bit of a drive some Silverton, Colorado. Though nearly 30 miles south, visitors won’t be disappointed by this unique experience. 

Dash through the snow, then gather around the campfire for hot chocolate and holiday cheer. 

🚗 How to Get There: To reach this destination in the winter months, an AWD or 4WD vehicle is essential. Need to rent? Compare costs and agency ratings with Discover Cars.

Purgatory Resort 

Be pampered at a luxury ski resort

View of a snowy mountain in Purgatory Resort

📍 Map It: 1 Skier Pl, Durango, CO 81301 | Phone: (970) 247-9000 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm daily 

Purgatory Resort is also a bit of a distance from Silverton, roughly 22 miles south. But for those seeking an elevated après ski scene, fine dining restaurants, and spa services, this location is for you. 

With 13 lifts, the mountain offers a wide variety of terrain, great for all skill levels. Enjoy ski-in/ski-out access, soak in the heated pool, and check their special events calendar for live music, demo days, and more.

📚 Related Reading: 27 Best Colorado Ski Resorts (‘21-’22 Season)

Silverton Powdercats

Go cat skiing and snowboarding

View of people enjoying their ski experience in Silverton
(photo: Ted Alexander Somerville / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: State Highway 550, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 422-2223 | Website | Hours: 8:45 am – 4 pm daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: $550 adults

Generally, untouched powder requires a hefty hike through the backcountry. But Silverton Powdercats’ guided tours make the journey easy, yet adventurous. 

This experience includes 8-12 runs and is ideal for advanced and intermediate skiers. Avalanche kit rentals are also included in ticket purchases. Start at the top of Molas Pass and enjoy gliding through tree terrain, open fields, and steep mountain faces. 

Summer Activities in Silverton, CO

Off-Road Backcountry Tours

Adventure into the San Juan Mountains

View of jeeps driving along the Alpine Loop in Silverton
Jeeps driving the Alpine Loop to Animas Forks

📍 Map It: 957 Greene St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 247-3706 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens May 2022

Explore the Colorado backcountry with a side-by-side off-road vehicle. These modern UTVs can hold up to six passengers. With a built-in GPS, you can feel confident renting and driving solo. But if you prefer a guide, Pirates Backcountry Adventures has you covered.

Want a larger vehicle? Contact San Juan Backcountry to book a tour or rent one of their 4WD Jeep Wranglers! 

Both outfitters are conveniently located in downtown Silverton, Colorado. You’ll be in for an adventure, regardless of what vehicle you choose!

White Water Rafting

Splash down the Upper Animas River

A group of rafters in Silverton

📍 Map It: 50 Animas View Dr, Durango, CO 81301 | Phone: (970) 247-4789 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens May 2022 | 👉 Browse Whitewater Rafting Tours on Viator

Rafting is one of the most popular things to do in Colorado, and Silverton is a great place to do it! From late May through early August, Silverton visitors can raft the Upper Animas River. This is one of the country’s most challenging commercially-run routes. 

For this experience, book a single-day or multi-day adventure with Mild To Wild Rafting Tours. Their professional guides will rush you through Class II-V rapids on the banks of 14,000-foot San Juan peaks.

👉 Pro Tip: If you’re a less experienced rafter or have children under 14, plan a midsummer trip. During this timeframe, water levels are lower and rapids are less difficult, but just as fun!

Farmer’s Market

Savor Palisade peaches, green chiles, and more

A bunch of peaches in Farmer's Market

📍 Map It: 1239 Blair St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Seasonal, Opens July 2022

Located at Columbine Park on Blair Street, the Silverton Farmers Market is a lovely summer activity. Browse a wide variety of fresh produce, including Colorado favorites like Palisade peaches and green chiles. Local vendors sell fresh flowers, artisan baked goods, and so much more.

Mayflower Gold Mill

See where prospectors mined for gold

View of an old metal gold mining cart on track in Silverton

📍 Map It: 135 Co Rd 2, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-0294 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens May 2022

The Mayflower Gold Mill was the last big mill to be built in the San Juan Mountains. For that reason, it was the most advanced and longest-running mill in Colorado history.

Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour, learning how ore was processed into precious metals. Some artifacts, such as the buckets and tram system that once transported gold, are still in their original place.

Horseback Riding

Trot down exclusive wilderness trails

View of two cowboys riding their horses in Silverton

📍 Map It: Us Hwy 550 Mile Marker, 65, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 259-8590 | Website 

Fifteen minutes south of Silverton, horseback riders meet with San Juan Sky Outfitters. Their expert guides haul horses up Coal Bank and Molas Pass and obtain exclusive backcountry permits. 

For two hours, you can ride into the San Juan Mountains and enjoy stunning views. Witness wildflowers, jagged peaks, and an impressive 60-foot waterfall. 

Food & Drink in Silverton, CO

Avalanche Brewing Company

Drink with the locals

View of vintage wood skis in Avalanche Brewing Company
(photo: Anne Richard / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: 1151 Greene St #377, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-5282 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 8 pm daily, Closed Tuesdays 

Avalanche Brewing Company is a favorite in southwestern Colorado. In true Silverton spirit, several of their craft beers are named after historic locals. 

Their Fischer Pilsner honors the town’s first brewer. Romero’s Mexican Lager celebrates the Romero family who, for more than fifty years, ran a restaurant in the same building. Pair your pour with tacos or housemade pizza, perfect after a busy day of exploring. 

Thee Pitts Again 

Dine on southern mesquite barbecue 

View of Three Pitts Again BBQ in Silverton
(photo: melissamn / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: 1171 Greene St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-5027 | Website | Hours: Temporarily Closed 

Famed for their feature on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Thee Pitts Again wowed host Guy Fieri. This award-winning, family-owned restaurant is sure to do the same for you, too.

Barbecue fans will love their pulled pork, beef brisket, and hearty sides. Don’t forget a slice of peach cobbler for dessert! 

Rocky Mountain Funnel Cake Factory

Treat yourself  

View of a funnel cake with sugar on it

📍 Map It: 1249 Greene St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (479) 739-0997 | Hours: 11 am – 6 pm daily

This isn’t the standard funnel cake you’d find at the county fair. Rocky Mountain Funnel Cake Factory creates extraordinary treats. 

Try their caramel apple with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or lemon drop with powdered sugar. From strawberry cheesecake to cookies n’ cream, you won’t be disappointed! 

Golden Block Brewery

Cheers to craft beer and pizza

View of the Golden Block Brewery sign and the colorful shops in Silverton
(photo: Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: 1227 Greene St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: (970) 387-5962 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 11 pm daily 

Few things hit the spot more than a cold beer and a slice. Golden Block Brewery is a newer addition to Silverton’s restaurant scene. But, they’re quickly gaining popularity for their brick-oven signature pizzas. 

Try The Snow Cat featuring pepperoni and pineapple, or The Outdoor Enthusiast topped with bacon and smoked gouda.   

Handlebars Food & Saloon

Try rocky mountain oysters

The Handlebars Food & Saloon sign in front of it
(photo: melissamn / Shutterstock)

📍 Map It: 1323 Greene St, Silverton, CO 81433 | Phone: 970-387-5395 | Website | Hours: Temporarily Closed 

Upon entering Handlebars Food & Saloon, you’ll immediately notice the collection of Wild West bric-a-brac. Like the decor, the menu is Colorado-inspired with one of the state’s most famed dishes: rocky mountain oysters. 

Tourists, be warned – these deep-fried delicacies are not seafood! Rather, they’re battered bull testicles, served with Handlebars’ homemade barbecue sauce. Yum!

***

This mining town’s boom era may have passed, but its history and natural beauty continue to draw travelers from across the globe. It’s no wonder that Silverton, Colorado was named one of the best places to travel in 2022!

With so many fun things to see and do in Silverton, you’ll probably want to extend your visit. Be sure to read my guide on where to stay in Silverton!

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One Comment

  1. Thank you so much! You beautifully described the quaint town so much so that I would like to visit!!! Do you know if there are any Tiny Home Villages there or in the neighboring areas? Thank you again!!

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