I knew about Silverton long before we visited. My husband is obsessed with trains and the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad had been on his radar for years. Actually, it’s an interesting hobby and we’ve ended up riding on trains all over the world. Those who retire in Silverton, Colorado, if only for a season, can ride the train and join the hearty 640 year round citizens who call this home.
Silverton is actually an old mining town and you can still tour some of the gold and silver mines where hundreds of millions of dollars of ore has been extracted since the 1860’s. The One Hundred Mile Gold Mine Tour is a must see attraction (but not if you are claustrophobic) where you ride a little train 1500 feet into the mine. At the end of the tour you can try your hand at panning for gold – and you get to keep what you find!
The little community grew when those early miners staked their claims and all supplies were brought over the Continental divide by mule. Did we tell you that Silverton sits at 9,300 feet in elevation? Eventually a road was built from Del Norte and the railroad really opened up the area when it came through in 1882, connecting many of the little towns in the area.
If you are into winter sports – you have just found heaven. Two really great resorts, The Silverton Mountain Ski Area and the Kendall Mountain Resort have every single thing you can imagine. This is where Olympian Shawn White practices his half-pipe moves. If you are completely out of your mind, a helicopter will take you to the top of the mountain and you can ski down. There miles and miles of groomed cross country trails, snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice skating and all things cold.
Those who visit in the summertime go backpacking, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, biking and on and on. You can visit the mines, drive the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray, Colorado (another great little town), visit a ghost town, and just enjoy the mountains.
The town has interesting little shops, restaurants and year round activities.
If you fall in love with Silverton and want to live here, this is what you will find. Homes are in the $252,000 (up to the millions) range and some are only used during ski season. Long term rentals are available in the $1,400 range. There are condos available for various lengths of time.
The crime rate is very low.
The weather at 9,000+ feet is on the cool side. January sees an average low at -4 degrees F. and highs in the mid 30’s. In July daytime temperatures are in the mid 70’s and get back down to the low 40’s at night. Silverton gets 173 inches of snow each year and 26 inches of rain.
There are 3 RV parks in the area and its a good idea to have summer reservations. The city owned park does not have utilities and the sites are pretty narrow.
The scenery is gorgeous no matter when you visit. The train whistle is blowing! You have to come to Silverton, at least once in your life!
Tell us what you think of Silverton in the comments section below!