Vicksburg, Colorado

Once a thriving mining settlement, the ghost town of Vicksburg is a testament to the industries that built the west.

A Hidden Ghost Town Off the Beaten Path

Vicksburg is off the beaten path. There aren’t any fancy signs pointing travelers in the direction of the once 700-resident strong mining settlement. At its peak, there were some 40 buildings, including a post office, school, blacksmith, a general store, two hotels, two billiard halls, an assay office, a livery stable, and a handful of saloons. There was a daily stagecoach transporting people to and from Granite and beyond. In current times, Vicksburg is effectively a ghost town, even through there are several cabins which remain seasonally occupied by residents who are descendants of some of the original settlers.

Vicksburg is on the National Register of Historic Sites. A small museum facility is maintained by the Clear Creek Canyon Historical Society, with a couple preserved buildings and old equipment which was used in the heyday of the small settlement. The museum is only staffed by volunteers in the warm months, but as early as April, it was accessible.

A welcome sign informing visitors about the site and that some of the cabins are still privately owned and occupied.

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Twin Lakes, Colorado

Just south of Leadville, the historic Twin Lakes area offers plenty of camping, hiking, and fishing in the majestic setting of the Colorado Sawatch mountain range.

First County Seat of the 17 Original Counties of Colorado

What is now known as Twin Lakes was once the site of Lake County’s first county seat, Dayton. Lake County was one of Colorado’s original 17 counties, established by the Colorado Legislature in 1861. Twin Lakes has been a tourist attraction since as early as the 1870s, when it became an important stop along the route to the gold and silver mines of Aspen. The Interlaken Hotel, located on the south side of Twin Lakes, was founded in 1879 and had some of the best amenities available of the time.

Wide panorama of the Twin Lakes area from the hills just north of Twin Lakes. Far right is the Mount Elbert Forebay reservoir, an excellent reservoir for fishing.

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Cripple Creek & Victor, CO

There’s nothing like having a cold one at a saloon which once served the same to miners over 100 years ago. New ownership, new patrons, but one thing is timeless throughout history: booze.

Mining history. Mining history is something which Colorado has plenty of. This visit to Cripple Creek and then Victor was another spur of the moment shindig. Instead of going straight from Salida back to Denver via US 285, we decided to take a slight detour and go via US 50 to Cripple Creek, and then via Rampart Range back to the Denver metro area.

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Gateway, CO – Uravan, CO

State Highway 141 is a scenic byway following the Dolores River. Gateway, CO is the backcountry gateway to Moab, UT via the La Sal Mountains.

The town of Gateway, CO is unique because it’s nestled less than 10 miles from the Colorado-Utah border. It is the location of the eastern termini of two backcountry 4×4 routes to Moab, UT. It is about 50 miles southwest of Grand Junction. Gateway is on Colorado State Highway 141 (SH-141), roughly where it meets the Dolores River, on the northwest side of the Uncompaghre Plateau.

In the parking lot of the general store
Gateway is a classic small town, with small town vibes. Although the town contains a couple tourist attractions, it hardly feels like a tourist trap. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to encounter a lot of traffic at all along SH-141. There is a general store (pictured above), with gas pumps, restrooms, drinks and snacks. During the summer time, there is also a food truck that operates in the parking lot of the general store. Most will make a pit-stop at the general store before continuing their journey.

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Collbran, CO / Grand Mesa

Collbran is a lowly mountain town with a unique charm, and history. The Grand Mesa is directly south, and a mighty feature of the Colorado Western Slope.

Detouring through Collbran, CO, in order to avoid Interstate 70 just confirms even more that the choosing the side route often leads to a greater journey, and is certainly worth it if you’re not in a hurry. This is a sensible side route if you’re traveling to Grand Junction (hint: ultimately to Moab) and not in a rush. It doesn’t tack on a lot of extra mileage (unless you go over the Grand Mesa), but it does tack on an additional 20-30 minutes compared to the same route via I-70. The first time around doing this, I decided to take a cruise over the Grand Mesa (in November, as you do), which was interesting and got a little squirrelly upon encountering a blizzard and a foot or so of snow. The Grand Mesa could be a trip in its own right and something warranting its own post, but I’m including a little bit on it since it’s worth mentioning and I wouldn’t have gone up there to begin with if I didn’t go through Collbran.


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Glenwood Springs, CO

So I tend to end up in random places with little to no planning somewhat more frequently than I like to admit. Such as spontaneous road trips to Laramie, or wherever, often times with no real good reason. What ended me up in Glenwood Springs was actually a little bit planned, however. Although in the “well check-in is by 7:00 so I should be there any time between 4 and 7. Since I don’t usually feel like doing tons of interstate driving in one go, I like to make Moab a two day trip from Fort Collins. Then you can relax and enjoy the journey. Well luck has it that Glenwood Springs is a great halfway point between Fort Collins and Moab. Since I’m also cheap and don’t see the need for flashy hotels for $90/night, it works because Glenwood also has a nice little hostel that’s only $25/night for a bunk. A bunk and a hot shower is all a man needs travelling. Since this was November the first time I stayed, I opted for the warm bunk as opposed to camping.

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Salida, CO

Something a little different was in the works for New Years this year. I wasn’t exactly feeling the whole “getting drunk and staying out way too late” thing that has happened the past however many New Years. I had a three day weekend off from work and no school, so naturally a short little trip was in order. Fortunately a friend was in the same boatso we  decided to go hang out in Salida for a change.

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Walden, CO

There’s not a ton to see in Walden. It is a small town, located right in the middle of the already sparsely populated north park. It is the county seat and most populated municipality of Jackson County. Most people who visit Walden are passing through.

I’ve been to Walden a handful of times. Most of the time it has been a pit-stop, but one time I decided to spend a little more time in Walden and get a sense of what the town’s about.

Moose Creek Cafe. Located on Main Street/State Highway 125

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