Silverton, Colorado


Silverton is one of my favorite Colorado mountain towns. It’s remote, authentic, and largely untouched by the modern world. Add the ability to visit by road (the Million Dollar Highway and San Juan Skyway) or train (the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad), and the nearby 4-wheel-drive roads, and you have a very enjoyable destination.

My Visit

This was far from my most perfect visit to Silverton, Colorado, thanks to some clouds and rain.  I’ve written about this town a few times before, including my 2012 visit to Silverton, my 2006 visit during winter, and a visit in 2005, when I explored some of the 4-wheel-drive roads north of town.  But, on this trip, I hit one attraction that I had previously missed:

The Christ of the Mines Shrine stands on the slope of Anvil Mountain.  From the shrine…

… you get a nice view of the entire town.

The shrine features a 16-foot-tall statue of Jesus with arms outstretched.  The statue was installed in the late 1950’s, during an economic downturn in Silverton.  Almost immediately after the shrine was built, the economy turned the corner and improved greatly.

My visit to Silverton was rainy and foggy.  If you’d rather see sunny pictures, check out the 2012 visit.

Silverton’s historic 1908 City Hall is located on Greene Street, the town’s main street.

Silverton doesn’t have any of the typical franchise hotels that you’ll find in other cities, but there are plenty of nice historic properties, including the well-ranked Wyman Hotel.

It even offers a hotel room inside a caboose!

Yes, trains are big in Silverton, thanks to the Durango – Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  You’ll find railroad-related items in many of the downtown stores.  Downtown may feel somewhat empty, but then…

… the train arrives, and a long line of tourists pours out onto the streets.

This is a real steam-engine train!  It felt good to get near the engine on this cold, damp day.

Fortunately, I had eaten lunch before the crowds arrived.  I returned to a favorite spot, which I had discovered in 2012.

It’s impossible to miss Thee Pitts Again BBQ, thanks to its bright pink facade.

The pink theme continues inside.  You’ll probably notice a picture of Guy Fieri in the window, and an endless loop of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives playing on a TV.  The restaurant’s other location (in Scottsdale, Arizona) was featured on the show.

The pulled pork sandwich is on the expensive side ($10 for what you see here — a sandwich, pickle, and mug full of cole slaw).  But, it’s darned tasty.

While I ordered a simple sandwich, as you can see, they have a full menu.

After lunch, I made the return trip to Ouray, headed north on US 550.  But, I should mention, if you head south for just a mile or two, you’ll find a great view of the town.

South of town, after you’ve climbed a few hundred feet, look for a narrow spot at the side of the road, just big enough to pull off.  The entire valley, and all of Silverton, spreads out below.

It’s even better on a sunny day!

The Bottom Line

I’ve visited Silverton in the snow, in the rain, and during the sunny summer months. There really is no bad time to pay a visit. If you have extra time on your hands, and an appropriate vehicle, explore some of the 4-wheel drive roads that begin in Silverton (like the drive up to the Animas Forks ghost town). Or, stay in town and hang out with the tourists, and enjoy some barbeque!

The Bottom Line

Silverton, Colorado is located on US 550, part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. It’s about 48 miles north of Durango — about an hour’s drive, if you don’t stop to enjoy the incredible scenery. Another great town, Ouray, is about 20 miles north, over Red Mountain Pass and the spectacular Million Dollar Highway.

Note that Silverton is only a few miles from Telluride, Colorado, as the crow flies — but the drive takes nearly two hours, and requires a loop around the mountains. Keep this in mind when booking hotel rooms.

Drivelapse Video

Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Ouray to Silverton, then Durango, via US 550:

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