Nestled in the San Juan Mountains, Silverton Colorado is impressive
when you first see it. Come by way of the Durango-Silverton Narrow
Gage Railway for some of the best scenery. You'll go through
canyons and mountains, and the sheer drops to the river below
are breathtaking. Unfortunately, the train stops in Silverton
for just a couple hours before returning to Durango.
It may be better to come by car, either from Durango on Highway
550, or from Ouray on the same highway. The latter stretch is
called the "Million Dollar Highway," and if you do
come that way, you might want to stop in Ouray to use the large
hot springs pools. Once in Silverton, don't just drive down the
old-west main street. Continue on up to the ghost town of Animas
Forks for a few photos. Then return to town and stay a while.
In what other town can you see a gunfight in the streets, camp
three blocks from downtown, and look up to see snow-capped mountains
in all directions in June?
We're in our room at the historic Silverton Hostel as I write
this. If you are unfamiliar with them, a hostel is a place where
you rent a bed for the night. This is a great idea for a single
person who likes to meet other adventurers and travelers, but
you share a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. The Silverton Hostel
is a cross between a run-down hotel and rooming house, with beds,
private rooms like the one we have, and even space to pitch a
tent in the backyard if you're really on a budget.
At the front desk a sign says to pick a room - the keys are
in the doors. Use the phone at the desk to call to find someone
to pay, or you can pay when you see the manager later in the
day. If you miss the manager, there's an envelope on the back
of the door in each room, where you can just leave your money.
We found the manager, which was good, because she told us
that wireless internet was available now. It saved us a trip
to the Avalanche Cafe - although we'll visit there in the morning
for excellent green-chili omelets. Checking in simply meant signing
the credit card slip - no other paperwork. We cooked some food
in the kitchen and met a young man who had recently traveled
through Ecuador, where my wife is from.
In the afternoon we watched a gun fight/show in the streets.
Dancing at the Bent Elbow Saloon is the plan for tonight, followed
by whatever other bar has live music. When we were here previously
we danced to the music of "Too Little O2," a local
group whose original music ranged from Greek dance tunes to reggae
to rock and more. Locals and outsiders all had a great time.
Being isolated and at 9300 feet seems to help people get along
Things To Do And See Around Silverton
Want big wilderness? If so, this is the place for you. The
Weminuche Wilderness Area (to the east and south) is the largest
in Colorado, with hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and several
"fourteeners," (mountains over 14,000 feet) that can
be climbed without equipment. A large part of the area is above
timberline, and it is full of alpine lakes, waterfalls and wildlife.
The twenty-three mile drive to Ouray, at the northern end
of the "Million Dollar Highway," is an adventure, with
drops of hundreds of feet sometimes just inches from the edge
of the road. The scenery is incredible, but should be described
to the driver.
You can take Jeep tours that start in Silverton and head up
to the high tundra, as well as to ghost towns and old mines.
Rent a four-wheel drive vehicle yourself if you feel comfortable
with rough roads and large drops a foot away from the vehicle.
I can recommend the amazing "Alpine Loop," but at the
moment (mid-June) there may still be snow on some of the many
passes you'll cross.
In the evening you can sing karaoke at the Silverton Brewery
and Bar, (usually on Friday nights, in any case - but schedules
here are unpredictable). Last night the songs ranged from Rocky
Horror Picture Show music to country, hard rock and Selena. The
latter was sung by my wife in Spanish. Maybe that $3 margarita
was stronger than we thought.
10 Cheap Vacations