This southern Colorado hamlet was the site of Colorado’s last great silver boom in the 1890s. It only lasted a few years but left an indelible mark on the landscape, with amazingly well-preserved mine structures – many of them built in impossibly steep places – in the hills above town. Passenger cars can take the Bachelor Loop through the mining district, while four-wheel-drive enthusiasts can explore deeper into the district. The boom days also left behind a rich legacy of Old West lore, such as the fact that Robert Ford, the man who killed Jesse James, was himself shot to death here.
It isn’t just history buffs who come here. Creede is home to the headwaters of the Rio Grande River with amazing fishing along its quiet banks. Farther upriver is North Clear Creek Falls, located along Colorado Highway 149, making it one of the most photographed waterfalls in Colorado. A beetle epidemic and massive wildlife have denuded the area of many of its trees, which is great for elk hunters, who have made this one of the most popular hunting regions of southern Colorado.
Hikers have many trail options. Starting right in town, the Inspiration Point Trail is a steep two miles with a view at the top that lives up to its name. Or grab an overnight pack and head to Wheeler Geologic Area in the La Garita Wilderness, a remote canyon with eroded hoodoos and rock formations to rival the famous Bryce Canyon. If your vehicle is rugged enough, you can drive over Stony Pass, which was the first wagon route connecting the San Juan Mountain mines with the outside world.
Winter is slow time here. Slumgullion and Spring Creek passes to the north offer great snowmobiling and Nordic skiing, and nearby Wolf Creek Ski Area boasts the most snow in Colorado. The town itself largely shuts down, but at least the Tommyknocker Saloon stays open.