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If you’re looking to explore abandoned places in Colorado, I got you covered. Below are my 23 favorite abandoned places in our most beautiful state.
Abandoned Places In Colorado
1. Stratton’s Independence Mine and Mill
We kick off our list of abandoned places in Colorado with the remnants of a century-old mining town. Like many mines out west, Independence Mine opened in 1891 during the gold in the midst of the great gold rush in the United States.
Winfield Stratton fittingly named the site after the day he claimed it, July 4th. It’s said that a single boulder net Stratton nearly $60,000, which was a ton back in the 1890s! Only ten short years later Stratton cashed out and sold the mine for $10 million to a company in London.
The London-based company sold shares of the company on their stock exchange, however, a new site survey revealed that there was significantly less ore on the property than previously thought. This sent the stock plummeting practically overnight.
High-grading (or ore theft) was a serious issue in the mine, so much so that Indenpence was the first mine to require workers to strip down after their shift. Talk about degrading. This, along with mismanagement, deadly mining accidents, and the Colorado Labor Wars caused the mine to lose laborers and eventually close after the ore was all gone.
2. Wall Street, Chlorination Mill
Welcome to Wall Street. No, not the one with men in suits shouting into phones, but an old abandoned ghost town in Boulder County Colorado. Before the town was established, the property was the site of Mining Camp Delphi in 1895. This modest mine quickly grew as more and more prospectors staked their claim to gold in the area.
Industrialist Charles Caryl took note of what was happening and bought up almost all the claims in Camp Delphi. He changed the name of the camp to Wall Street, where he was originally from in New York.
Charles commissioned a gold mill to help refine the gold ore directly on site. This was a massive undertaking, and despite being over 100 years old, the massive foundation still remains. Like all gold towns, Wall Street went bearish on the prospects of new gold in the area, and eventually, workers migrated elsewhere.
By 1921, nearly everyone was gone. Today, urban explorers can venture into the old wooden ruins and experience the beauty of both decay and rural Colorado.
3. World’s Wonder View Tower Genoa
Possibly one of the strangest abandoned places in Colorado is the Wonder View Tower in the small town of Genoa. Built n the 1920s, this tower was designed from its birth to be a tourist trap. The owners at the time boasted that from the top of the tower you could see six neighboring states.
While it may sound like a tall tale, it was confirmed that the tower was constructed on one of the highest points between New York and Denver. Of course, if you wanted to see this marvel it would cost you a small fee. And of course, you’d be exiting through the gift shop.
In addition to the view, the Wonder View Tower also had a museum inside with numerous oddities such as an eight-legged pig, Native American weaponry, and a two-headed calf.
The owner has been closed since 2014 after the passing of the owner. All of the artifacts inside were auctioned off. Today the fate of the tower is unknown.
4. Ironton, Colorado
Like many abandoned places in Colorado, Ironton was a mining town that rose just as fast as it fell. The town was part of the Red Mountain Mining District that was formed in 1893. At one time, Ironton has over 300 buildings and employed nearly 1000 workers to operate facilities and work in the mine.
The mine was the second largest silver producer in the entire state, but that didn’t stop the residents from leaving when the ore veins disappeared. The last resident of the town, Milton Larson lived alone in the town until passing away in the 1960s. Of all the abandoned places in Colorado, Ironton is one of the most accessible as it’s right off the main highway.
5. Titan 1 Missile Silo
Believe it or not, Colorado has six Titan I missile silos hidden throughout the state – some of which are abandoned. The Titan I missiles were the United States’ last resort weapon, as they could easily travel thousands of miles and were often armed with nuclear warheads.
Eventually, newer technology replaced the Titan I and with the Cold War winding down the United States didn’t need to flex as much firepower. This left dozens of abandoned silos scattered throughout the entire country.
Not only are these silos difficult to reach, but they are considered extremely dangerous to explore. Rusted stairs give way to massive drops into the dark abyss, and PCBs, uranium, and other chemicals often coat the interior. Be extremely careful when exploring and be sure that the silos aren’t actually occupied before visiting. Not recommended for non-veteran explorers.
There are many documented accounts of vigilant silo property owners sabotaging vehicles, calling the police, and holding trespassers at gunpoint. DYOR/YMMV
6. Keota Methodist Church
Keota is an abandoned town located in the Pawnee National Grasslands in Colorado that attracts both explorers and history lovers alike. The town was settled by two sisters as a homestead in the 1880s before being sold to a ranching company eight years later.
The railroad was the lifeblood of the town and was used to ship cattle in and out of the area. The railroad was eventually abandoned in 1970s due to lack of demand and the simple economics of maintaining the line.
Today, only a small few call this place home. Urban explorers can photography the original church as well as the water tower which has surprisingly survived all of this time. Just don’t drink the water…
7. Brown’s Dance Hall (Ramah, CO)
Brown’s Dance Hall is one of the few abandoned places in Colorado that still has some character left. I was really impressed to see how well many of these buildings have held up over the years. Ramah is a sleepy little town, not quite a ghost town but on the cusp of becoming one.
Ramah was born a small railroading town during the late 1800s. During its peak, about 100 people called Ramah home. When the Rock Island Railroad shutdown, the population rapidly declined. Despite this, people still live there today surviving primarily off ranching and farming.
With not much to do, the dance hall would have been a pretty popular place back in the day.
8. Nevadaville Post Office & Store
Nevadaville was a gritty gold mining town established in the mid-1800s. After discovering gold in the region, John Gregory established the town to house his workers. Unlike other mining towns, Nevadaville had a masonic lodge built on one of the town’s main drags in 1859. This lodge still meets regularly to this day.
In 1861 a massive fire ripped through the town and destroyed over 50 buildings and homes. The residents would rebuild and continue mining until 1900 when the mines closed down.
Today, explorers can still find structures left behind and even visit the masonic lodge. Rumor has it access to some of the abandoned mines is still possible. Keep in mind these mines are extremely dangerous and should not be explored unless you have proper training and knowledge of underground exploration.
9. Gothic, CO
Nearly everything in Gothic is abandoned, making this place a bonafide ghost town. Oddly enough, nearly 100 scientists study the environment at a nearby laboratory called RMBL (Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory). Nearly 1500 scientific publications come from RMBL each year.
The fact that they study the environment in an old ghost town is both really awesome and perplexing. I’m personally glad they chose to keep the strictures rather than demolish them.
10. Argo Tunnel Mine
The Argo Tunnel is just under five miles long located in pretty much the middle of nowhere. The tunnel provided access to the mines as well as diverted water from the underground passageways. According to the EPA, the tunnel is still responsible for a large amount of pollution in the area.
As rain enters the tunnel, it carries heavy metals with it and spills into local creeks and reservoirs. The tunnel opened in 1893 and closed in 1943 when five miners were killed as the tunnel unexpectedly flooded. Shortly after the incident, the government ordered all gold mines to shift to military production, meaning the tunnel would have closed regardless. The tunnel never reopened.
These abandoned places in Colorado are beautiful but extremely dangerous. Not only is this tunnel secluded but the chance of sudden flooding and collapse is very high.
11. Caribou Mine
If you couldn’t tell from this list already, there are tons of abandoned mines across Colorado. Caribou was both a silver mine and a town but is now quietly crumbling in the remote wilderness in Boulder County.
The town was settled after a prospector discovered gold flakes downstream in 1861. Shortly after, Caribou was established to house the miners. the town had more amenities than most, featuring a church, three saloons, and a brewery.
in 1871, Dutch investors purchased the mine for $3 million, only to find that all the ore was gone. The mine struggled to remain in operation over the next decade. In 1879 a fire ravaged the town destroyed nearly all the buildings. At its peak, the Caribou had about 3000 residents, after the fire less than 50 people lived there.
Today there are plenty of ruins and artifacts to find in the area, with some of the hardy stone structures still standing after the fire.
12. Crystal Mill
Unlike these obscure mining towns, Crystal Mills is a popular destination for photographers and explorers of all ranks. This picturesque mill was built in 1893 to generate power for the Sheep Mountain Mining Company, which ran the silver mines in the area.
The power was used to send compressed air down into the tunnels for miners, as well as power other mining machines in the area. The mill was abandoned in 1917 after the silver mine closed down. Crystal Mill would likely be completely gone if it hadn’t been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The rustic mill, scenic valley, and clear blue waterfalls are truly a photographer’s wet dream.
13. Gold Camp Road
While Gold Camp road won’t get you rich, it does offer a handful of abandoned mining tunnels, and random old abandoned structures along the way. Located in the Cheyenne Canyon Park, the road and tunnels were created to transport ore from Cripple Creek future west for processing.
The road is suitable for most vehicles, especially if you have a 4×4. The path is roughly 9 miles long with numerous tunnels along the way. According to folklore, two tunnels are allegedly haunted – which I’m not sure.
These dangerous tunnels contain colorful Zircon crystals and other rare either minerals such as cryolite and tysonite, but no gold. If you do go, bring a hard hat, let someone know where you’ll be, and bring a few powerful light sources.
14. Climax, CO
If abandoned towns really turn you on then well Climax Colorado will make you… Nevermind. Unlike most mines during the gold and silver rush Climax was known for its massive deposits of molybdenum ore which are used in high-strength metal alloys.
When the town was populated, it was the highest human settlement in the Unite States at 11,360 feet above sea level. The mine ceased operation sometime before the mid-60s, and everyone relocated since the mine was the only source of income in the area.
Today, the mine has actually reopened, but there are still a few abandoned homes tucked away in the woods if you do make it to the mine.
15. Como Roundhouse
Como is a very small town, so seeing this architectural oddity puzzles many people who pass through right away. In 1881 Italian stonemasons constructed the roundhouse as a depot for trains on the newly built Pacific Railroad.
Along with the roundhouse, a hotel was constructed in the late 1880s as well for travelers who stopped off in Como. Sadly, the hotel burned to the ground in 1896 during renovations. The last train to leave Como left in 1937. Due to almost no demand for rail service, the tracks were pulled and Como isolated itself from the rest of the world.
16. Saint Elmo Ghost Town
Saint Elmo is one of the most well preserved abandoned places in Colorado, and arguably one of the most popular ghost towns in the state. At its peak in 1881, Saint Elmo drew in 2000 residents who traveled from across the country seeking riches from gold and silver.
One of the most successful mines in the region called the Mary Murphy Mine extracted over $60,000,000 worth of gold during its time in operation. While all the other mines dried up around it, the Murphy Mine continued to operate until the railroad was abandoned in 1922.
Like most abandoned mining towns, Saint Elmo’s population left when the mining industry collapsed. Today explorers can check out the preserved buildings in town, or even rent a 4×4 vehicle and head up to some of the nearby mines for exploration.
17. Rosedale Elementary School
Rosedale Elementry was built in 1924 and ultimately closed due to financial troubles and low enrollment in 2005. The property was owned by the Archdiocese of Denver, which controls numerous schools around the city.
The schools remain in excellent condition despite being vacant for all these years. According to experts, the property was assessed at $3.2 million but would require roughly $15.7 million to complete necessary renovations.
While the school hangs in the balance, this creates an opportunity for photographers to photography it and explore it, and explore it in its decayed state.
18. Animas Forks
Animas Forks (not Animal Forks like I first read it), is an old vacant mining town located on the Alpine Loop. 450 residents called this town home in 1876 where they built 30 homes, numerous stores, and of course a saloon.
Unlike most abandoned places in Colorado, Animas Forks wasn’t first deserted due to a lack of mining. Brutal winters had punished this small town year after year. In 1884 a storm that lasted for 23 days buried the town in 25 feet of snow. In order to move from building to building, residents had to dig tunnels out of the snow.
A lack of railroad, employment, and unforgivable winters forced many of the residents to move elsewhere, many of them relocating to Silverton. By 1910, nearly everyone was gone. Much of the mining equipment was saved and relocated to mines in Eureka.
Today you can explore this old ghost town, just make sure you visit during the warm season and have a 4×4 vehicle. The journey to reach this town is nearly impossible for low-clearance vehicles.
19. Leadville Mining District
While the town of Leadville is alive and well, its mines and original settlements have been long abandoned. The original settlers built and live in what they called Oro City just a few miles from present-day Leadville. Oro is Spanish for gold, but ironically there wasn’t much gold to be found in that mine.
Leadville however prospered for quite some time. Founded in 1877, the town thrived on silver deposits in the area. During its peak, more than 15,000 people settled in the area. The town even had running water and electricity in some buildings, which was uncommon for boomtowns at the time.
Over time, more than 30 additional mines opened up in the area, bringing in more silver, lead, and even gold. When the mines were empty, Leadville survived by shifting its focus from mining to tourism. The town host several history and mining museums, and is home to high altitude training areas where athletes test the limits of their body.
Urban explorers can venture into many mines scattered throughout the area, or explore the crumbling original structures located just east of the city.
20. Ashcroft, CO
The ghost town of Ashcroft is located about 10 miles from Aspin, is one of the easier ghost towns to reach by car. While many of the buildings are gone, there are still a good number of original structures still standing.
The town was formed in 1882 when two prospectors left Leadville in search of silver. They hit it big and found large amounts of silver in the area. In just under two weeks, streets were laid out, a courthouse was built, and the town of Ashcroft was born.
Ashcroft quickly grew in size, and in just two years reached 2000 residents. The town had over 20 saloons, which was even a lot back in those days. During its lifetime, the town produced over 14,000 ounces of silver. Of course when the silver was gone, so were the people. In 1939, the town’s last resident Jack Leahy died, officially making Ashcroft a ghost town.
Ashcroft is unique in that there are still originally structures standing. Of all the abandoned places in Colorado, Ashcroft is one of the best-preserved non-commercial ghost towns in the region.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Michigan, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.