"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, August 21, 2021

1 Road, 4 Ghost Towns - Colorado

Buena Vista, Colorado
Boondocking - National Forest 


On Saturday we drove north a bit to check out some old ghost/mining towns just outside Buena Vista.  I love how patriotic they are out here.  Route 24 has the American flags posted from Salida up through Buena Vista.

We stopped in Buena Vista at the Farmers Market to grab some baked goodies to take along on our drive.  They have a cute park and pond here at the market.
The bridge we crossed to get to the market.
The valley starts to close as you get closer to Clear Creek Canyon.
Turning on CR390 past Clear Creek Reservoir will take you on a nice drive through Clear Creek Canyon.  Most of the mining on Clear Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River (above), started in the 1860s and peaked by the 1890s. 

First you come up to the only structure left of Beaver City, a town that once had 20 structures.

An old road brings you to Dawson Cabin which you can rent for $50 a night, run by the forest service.

Vicksburg was the second largest town in the canyon with 600-700 residents at its peak.  There is a museum that is open sometimes in the summer and recordings that play outside some of the buildings.  



A gate to nowhere.
Many of these cabins that line what used to be tree lined Main Street are privately owned.


You can walk quite a ways down the old road imagining what else used to be here.



Rockdale is another small town that still has a few cabins standing.  They can also be rented out.

You can wander about and hike around here.  There is an active mining claim right along the river.  Interesting name.


Interesting part of this section of the river is that many off-roaders drive through it.  I don't know how long they can drive this portion but it looked like fun.
Here is one Jeep driving through.
Then they exit around another part and join back up on the dirt road.
Lastly you come upon the largest town, Winfield.  It  had over 1500 residents at one time.



The old schoolhouse.


There is a memorial marker for a Flight for Life crash that happened back in 1994.

Interesting to see this sign as I had a customer, back when we owned an olive oil store, that used to participate in this extreme 100 mile bicycle race in the high mountains between 9200 - 12,600 feet elevation.  Crazy!
Plenty of trails to hike along here too.  We drove a bit further down a very bumpy road not sure if our wide dually would fit the narrow road to get to the cemetery.  There also was no where to turn around so if it got to be too much, it would mean backing up a long way.




We explored around and had our picnic lunch here before heading back.
One of many draws where you can see avalanche damage.  It wipes out all the trees and drags them down the mountainside.  In the clearing Aspens usually grown back first.
You can see some of the trees that have been snapped off and piled up at the bottom.
It was a long day but we love days like this.  Just exploring and enjoying the gorgeous outdoors.
Our final day we had cooler but decent weather so we wanted to get the kayak out.  On the way to Cottonwood Lake on CR344.  Here's a picture of that family owned drive-in we went to in the last blogpost.
This is a nice lake surrounded by the steep mountains in Chalk Canyon.  An area filled with lakes, ghost towns, hiking trails and endless off road fun!

We tried some fishing but it was late in the day with long shadows and the wind picking up.

I love the Aspen forests in this valley.
This very tall fir stood out amongst all the Aspen.
We ended our day and time in Buena Vista with a stop at Deerhammer Distillery.  We've been here before and Steve really likes it.
We also ordered some chili to warm us up.  Then it was back home for a final campfire.