Lulu City was founded in 1879 during Colorado’s great silver and gold mining days in the upper Kawuneeche Valley in western Rocky Mountain National Park. Fort Collins merchant Benjamin Burnett grubstaked prospector John Rigdon to search the headwaters of the Colorado River for precious metal. Rigdon found a vein of silver and lead, so Burnet promptly plotted a 100-block town and named it for his daughter Lulu. Hundreds of miners flocked to Lulu City by late 1880, boosting the population to 500, and ten active mines dotted the area in 1881. Low-grade gold and silver ore, however, made most miners pack up and the town was mostly abandoned by 1885, with the post office closing in 1886. Three log cabins, a few foundations, and mine tailings are all that’s left of Lulu City now. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Hikers reach the remote townsite with an easy 6.2-mile roundtrip trek from the Colorado River Trailhead.
- The ghost town of Lulu City is reached from U.S. 34-Trail Ridge Road on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. From the park visitor center and entrance station, drive 9.5 miles north to the Colorado River Trailhead and a parking area on the left or west side of U.S. 34.
- From the trailhead, hike north on the Colorado River Trail on the eastern edge of Kawuneeche Valley, paralleling U.S. 34. Continue straight at an intersection with Red Mountain Trail at 0.6 miles and pass the Shipler Mine tailings at 1.8 miles and cabin ruins at 2.2 miles. At 3.0 miles is a junction with La Poudre Pass Trail. Go left and hike 0.1 miles to Lulu City ghost town in a meadow. The trail gains 300 feet of elevation.
- Little remains now of Lulu City except a crumbling cabin and several building platforms or foundations. The town lasted from 1879 to 1883, before most miners deserted the area. Lulu City boasted several saloons, post office, butcher shop, grocery store, and log cabins along its busy streets. Educational park signs interpret the townsite.
- While it’s a fun day hike out to Lulu City, you can also stay overnight in nearby backcountry campsites. These include Dutchtown Backcountry Campsite at the site of another 1880s ghost town west of Lulu City and Ditch, Box Canyon, and Skeleton Gulch Backcountry Campsites to the north.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green