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Snapshots of Silverton, an iconic mining town of the Wild West

By: Spencer McKee

One of the best places in the country for outdoor recreation enthusiasts, Silverton, Colorado is a one-of-a-kind mountain town.

Welcome to Silverton, Colorado, home to less than 1,000 residents.
Silverton has a rich history in mining with several ghost towns nearby, including Animas Forks.
Off-roading is huge in Silverton, allowing access to a huge swath of backcountry. One local outfitter we’d recommend is Rock Pirates, a Polaris Adventures partner.
By hopping in an off-road vehicle, you can explore parts of the back country in hours instead of days. During our tour with Rock Pirates and Polaris Adventures, we were able to see several waterfalls, a ghost town, and a massive alpine bowl during a half-day trip.
Silverton also has a lively main street bustling with restaurants, shops, and bars, including Handlebars Restaurant Saloon.
Rocky Mountain Oysters in Silverton
If you’re stopping at Handlebars, make sure you try the Rocky Mountain Oysters.
Part of the charm of Silverton is it’s tiny size. The entire town is walkable, just a few blocks in any direction.
Silverton also has a great appeal thanks to it’s Wild West feel.
The streets are lined with colorful buildings in front of a mountainous backdrop.
Everywhere in the town is very off-road vehicle friendly, with ATVs being allowed on the streets.
You’ll find that some even choose to use ATVs as their main form of transportation. They’re parked everywhere around town.
Island Lake - San Juan National Forest - OutThere Colorado
Silverton is also known for it’s backcountry hiking, including the Ice Lakes Basin trail. This trail eventually leads to Island Lake.
As you’re hiking around the backcountry, you’ll find remnants of buildings that are more than a century old.
Sound Democrat mine is one of the lesser-known mines that you can safely enter.
Colorado Road Trip Game - OutThere Colorado
A lot of the off-road trails are accessible by anything that’s got four-wheel drive and high enough clearance.
Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - Winter Train on Curve - Courtesy of Visit Durango - OutThere Colorado
One unique way to get to Silverton is via the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Photo courtesy of Visit Durango.
D&SNGRR - OutThere Colorado
Just be ready to make portions of the ride cliffside.
Million Dollar Highway
Another unique way to get to Silverton is by using Red Mountain Pass. Flanked by massive cliffs, this drive isn’t for the faint of heart. In this shot, we’re headed down the road on three-wheeled Polaris Slingshots with Rock Pirates and Polaris Adventures.
Silverton Skiing
Silverton is also a great place to visit during the winter, with Silverton Mountain offering some of the most extreme terrain in Colorado.
Jim Seaver Carves Down Ropety Dope at Silverton Mountain - OutThere Colorado
Jim Seaver carves down Ropety Dope at Silverton Mountain Ski Area. The cliffs, chutes, and cirques of Silverton are some of the steepest in-bounds skiing in the country.
Ski-jouring is also a popular winter sport in Silverton, Colorado. It involves a skier being pulled by a horse over ramps.
Christ statue in Silverton by Spencer McKee
During your visit, keep an eye toward the hills. There’s a massive statue of Jesus built to commemorate a certain narrowly-missed disaster.
Silverton - OutThere Colorado
If you’re debating on the time of year to visit, we recommend the early fall. You’ll get a blast of colorful trees and the backcountry will still be snow-free in most spots.
Photo Credit: ArtyAlison (iStock)

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