Buena Vista, Colorado

Nearby Ghost Towns

If old western ghost towns is your interest, there are many nearby ghost towns within relatively short distance from Buena Vista. The history of Colorado's settlement and mining era are noted by these towns, as prospectors moved from camp to camp seeking fortune through materials under the ground. As it was for many mining operations, mining either went "belly up" or economic markets turned hostile, in which many of these isolated towns in the mountains eventually were abandoned. I am by no means a historian, but I made a list below of interesting ghost towns to visit with directions in the Buena Vista greater area. Most of these towns do not offer services, so be forewarned.

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St. Elmo, Colorado

St. Elmo - St. Elmo is arguably one of the most in tact ghost towns in all of Colorado, with approximately 30 to 40 original buildings still standing. Take Chaffee County Road 162 west at Nathrop and head west into the canyon. You'll pass the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Agnes Vaille Falls and large aspen groves.
St. Elmo Links:
  • St. Elmo General Store
  • St. Elmo Web Site
  • Hancock, Colorado Hancock - From St. Elmo, follow signs to the road that was once an old railroad grade. Driving a high-clearance vehicle is probably a very good idea.
    Hancock Links:
  • Hancock Ghost Town
  • Tincup, Colorado Tincup - If you have a sturdy 4-wheel drive vehicle, one can reach Tincup by traveling a few miles west over Tincup Pass from St. Elmo. The more common route is to travel over Cottonwood Pass to Taylor Park Reservoir in Gunnison County, head south a few miles and follow the signs to the Tincup turnoff. I should note that during the summer, many live in Tincup and some might debate whether this is truly a ghost town.
    Tincup Links:
  • Tincup History and Photos
  • Pictures of Tincup
  • Vicksburg, Colorado

    Winfield, Colorado

    Vicksburg and Winfield - From Buena Vista, travel north on Highway 24 and travel west at Clear Creek Reservoir (Chaffee County Road 390). The old mining towns turned ghost towns of Vicksburg and Winfield are located in the canyon. Winfield served as the larger town and during its peak was home to 1,500 residents.
    Vicksburg & Winfield Links:
  • Leadville Historic Society
  • Pictures of Vicksburg and Winfield
  • Photo Collection of Winfield
  • Granite, Colorado Granite - At one time, a few thousand residents called Granite home and it served as the county seat for Lake County. This was when the land consisting of Chaffee County was included in Lake County. The town population dwindled when better mining prospects were found elsewhere. Today, State Highway 24 runs through it and six year-round residents live in Grante.
    Granite Links:
  • Hike to Granite Overlook
  • Pictures of Granite
  • Independence, Colorado Independence - Independence is located just west of Independence Pass and the Continental Divide. The winters were long and brutal and when mining went "belly up," much of the town was deserted with many heading downhill to the town of Aspen. Today, one can walk around the remains of Independence as it is located adjacent to Highway 82 with a parking area. Independence Links:
  • Pictures of Independence
  • Bonanza, Colorado Bonanza - Bonanza is located west of Villa Grove in Saguache County, located south of Chaffee County. To get there, take Highway 285 south through Poncha Springs and Poncha Pass. Just before arriving in the small town of Villa Grove, the turn off for Bonanza is on your right (west).
    Bonanza Links:
  • SLV Dweller's Bonanza Site
  • Pictures of Bonanza
  • Turret, Colorado Turret - The ghost town of Turret is located approximately twelve miles northeast of Salida in the mountains. Take Chaffee County Road 175 out of Salida and follow signs.
    Turret Links:
  • Turret Photos and Information
  • March 2006 Visit to Turret

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