You’ll need a Jeep or a similar vehicle and nerves of steel to reach this ghost town high above Telluride in the San Juan Mountains. But for history buffs, it’ll be worth it, as the drive over Imogene Pass will take you past innumerable old mines and boomtowns in one of Colorado’s most famous mining districts. You’ll marvel at how past residents lived in such a place, accessible without snow gear only a few months of the year, 3,000 feet above their Telluride neighbors. The town sprung up when gold and silver was struck and it eventually became home to 900 souls. Tomboy lasted longer than most boomtowns, until the late 1920s, when the ore ran out. Today it’s a popular summer stop on the rough road between Telluride and Ouray, and despite the high elevation and brutal weather, some of the buildings are in remarkably good shape.
- The Imogene Pass Road is narrow, rough, with steep drop-offs and water hazards, so be sure you have the right vehicle and experience to attempt this drive. If in doubt, you can walk the road or book a guided trip out of Telluride.
- For a longer adventure, continue over Imogene Pass into Yankee Boy Basin, another valley full of old mines, and then into Ouray for lunch or a hot springs dip. Or drive up Yankee Boy Basin and hike Mount Sneffels, one of Colorado’s prettiest fourteeners.
- Keep an eye on the skies. The ghost town is above timberline, with little protection from the weather, and storms can be sudden and violent in the San Juans.
Recommended season(s): Mid-summer to early fall
—R. Scott Rappold