Silverton is a small town in San Juan County in Southwestern Colorado. Once famous for its mining resources, it is now becoming famous with the extreme sports set, for a famously tough endurance run (the Hardrock Hundred) and a ski resort that focuses on giving skiers a back-country experience.
Silverton is on US 550, the famed “Million Dollar Highway” that connects Durango and Ouray, passing through incredible mountain scenery and over several high passes. However, most visitors to Silverton arrive instead by railroad, specifically the Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad, +1-888-872-4607. This scenic line originates in Durango and runs along the Animas River, with a few stops along the way at trailheads for hiking and backpacking. The depot in Silverton is a short walk from the downtown area.
The town is tiny, and from the train station you’ll be able to get to anywhere in town by foot or bike within minutes. (Allow a little extra time for walking because of the 9000-foot elevation.) If you’re venturing into the hinterlands, consider renting a jeep from one of these outfitters:
- Red Mountain Motel, RV Park and Jeep Rentals, 664 Greene St., +1-888-970-5512 or +1 970 387-5512.
- Silver Summit, 640 Mineral St., +1-800-352-1637 or +1 970 387-0240.
- Triangle Jeep Rental[dead link], 864 Greene St., +1 970 387-9990 or +1-877-522-2354.
If you arrive via the narrow-gauge and will be departing the same day, you won’t have time for much more than a walk around the many historic buildings downtown. The town maintains a web site[dead link] with a recommended route and information on the history of the buildings, many of them photogenic.
- [dead link]Silverton Gunfighters Association. Stages mock gunfights on 12th Street when the narrow-gauge train rolls in (around 5:30PM) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during peak season. The show, put on by local volunteers, is not quite as spectacular as when paid stuntmen did it some years ago, but it’s still fun to watch.