Tucked high in the mountains approximately 12 miles northeast of Silverton, Colorado, Animas Forks ghost town is a hidden gem steeped in the history of the Centennial State’s mining era. It’s located on a 65-mile off-roading route known as the Alpine Loop, but can also be reached by a rough dirt road that some two-wheel drive vehicles could handle. Off-road vehicle recommended. Check current conditions prior to embarking on this adventure.

Animas Forks old picture
Animas Forks in its heyday. Picture taken around 1878.
Animas Forks Spencer MCKee
Animas Forks stays crowded today on warm weather days…it’s just filled with tourists instead of miners. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

As goes with many mining era towns, Animas Forks sprung to life in less than three years before quickly fizzling out decades later. The first cabin in town was built in 1873, paving the way for this remote mining community to be bustling in 1876, soon complete with a post office, a general store, a hotel, and 30 cabins.

Animas Forks panoramic
A panoramic of Animas Forks. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

At the turn of the century, mining profits from the area around Animas Forks started to drop, making life in the town less practical. By 1910, the last mine in the area closed, soon to be dismantled and relocated to a spot much closer to Silverton in 1917.

Animas Forks parking
Here’s a look at the off-roading vehicles we drove to the ghost town as part of a tour with a Polaris Adventures’ outfitting company, Rock Pirates, out of Silverton. If you get the chance, this is the experience I would recommend. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Animas Forks is one of Colorado’s best preserved ghost towns, providing a great look into Colorado’s storied past. Most of the tourists that visit choose to come via off-road vehicle or Jeep. Don’t have either? It’s easy to rent in nearby Silverton.

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