Silverton, Colorado is located just under 50 miles north of Durango. It's a true mining town tucked away in the San Juan Mountains that still holds all of the charm (and more) that it did when it got it's start in the 1800s.
In 1860, prospectors began to explore the Ute Territory of the mountains and found both gold and silver in what we now know as the "Baker's Park" area. After the Civil War, miners returned and established Silverton as a legal town in 1874. The town attracted miners to its various mining camps for many years. Silverton was intended to be a respite from the harsh lifestyle of a minor and as a result, held many saloons and a red light district, Notorious Blair Street.
Silverton & The Train
A large part of the growth of Silverton in the late 1800s was the discovery of the town by the train. Known at the time as the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, the Durango Train successfully connected Silverton's mines with other mines around San Juan County. Today, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad still runs from Durango to Silverton and offers visitors a unique look at the history of Southwest Colorado as it relates to mining.
Silverton ceased to be an active mining town in the 1990s as the demand for gold and silver decreased. While there is still gold and silver left, much of what makes Silverton attractive today is the abundance of outdoor recreational activities. In total, the town of Silverton is only around 0.8 square miles according to the US Census Bureau. It's may be a small mountain town but it is also a site for many adventures.
During the warmer months every year, visitors can take the Durango Train up to Silverton for a day of outdoor exploration. You can do just about anything you can think of, including hiking, biking, camping, wildlife viewing, rafting, paddle boarding and more. One of the best parts of visiting in the summer is the opportunity to explore old mines. Places like the Old Hundred Gold Mine let you experience life underground, complete with mining demonstrations and an opportunity to pan for gold.
Like all of Southwest Colorado, Silverton is known for it's harsh, snowy winters. Visitors who brave the cold can take advantage of incredible backcountry skiing. There aren't any lifts or lodges, but making the trek is worth it. You can also ice fish, ice climb sled, snowmobile and more. Silverton is the perfect place to take a day trip to from Durango any time of year, but especially during winter months when the snow is falling and activities are in full swing.
On your next trip to Durango, take a day trip up to Silverton, CO. This quaint mountain town holds true to it's past and offers plenty of fun events and activities for visitors of all ages. It's a true wild-west experience for everyone who visits.