Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Silverton, CO

  • Published 2021/11/02

Seated at the top of the San Juan Mountain Ranges in Colorado, Silverton is considered a popular snowboarding and skiing destination.

With an elevation of about 9,000 feet, Silverton is a popular destination for adventurers each year.

For most, it’s the best place for camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures.

However, this small-town charm in southwestern Colorado is abundant in history, natural attractions, good food, and local hospitality.

If you want to uncover history and culture, this old mining town’s centuries-old buildings, mines, and structures will tell you many great stories.

Despite its tiny population of 500-plus people, it has a lot of great things to offer.

Being on the National Historic Landmark District list makes Silverton more than just the adjacent town of Durango.

So, here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Silverton, CO:

Tour the Historic Silverton Downtown

View of Historic Silverton Downtown

Bob Pool /

Traveling to another place wouldn’t be complete without visiting its town center.

Thus, Silverton’s historic downtown should be on your list to visit when you’re there.

Since the town has a rich historical past, you should walk around its downtown and be mesmerized by its centuries-old buildings preserved excellently to maintain its old small-town appeal.

View of Historic Silverton Downtown

Nick Fox /

To complete your experience, head to its specialty shops and restaurants.

Your walk through the downtown won’t be a waste of time since there are already designated historic landmarks in most of the area.

It means you will pass by historical landmarks such as the Teller House, the Grand Imperial Hotel, the San Juan County Historical Society office, and old commercial buildings that are standing firm until today.

Wander at the Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour

Located just outside of Silverton, another attraction nearby Silverton is the Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour.

For historical fanatics, it’s one attraction you shouldn’t miss once after visiting Silverton’s famous hotels and downtown.

There, you will discover what the locals do with their daily grind at the mines over a century ago.

If you’re into deep cave tours, this one is perfect for you since they offer tours deep into the old mines onboard an old mining cart.

You will have a unique experience to witness what’s inside a mine and interact with antique mining equipment.

To complete your experience there, the touring company lets you pan for real gold, copper, and silver at no added cost.

Conquer the Untamed Animas River

For a whole new level of adventure, head to the Animas River for white water rafting expeditions.

The Animas River rafting is an activity you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Silverton.

It is one of its top activities in Silverton because of its thrilling rafting adventure along the Animas River.

You can choose from a day of rafting or a multi-day white water rafting excursion.

If you’re an experienced rafter, you can conquer the Upper Animas River, which is considered the most challenging river in the country.

Hike on the Ice Lakes Trail

View of Ice Lakes Trail

Sarah B Hendrickson /

To reach the beautiful Ice Lake Trail, you should start your trekking journey at the Silverton basecamp of the national forest in San Juan County.

Lowkey, the Ice Lake Trail is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the country.

The journey usually starts in Silverton and leads to several beautiful lakes, rivers, meadows, and waterfalls.

View of Ice Lakes Trail

Kristi Blokhin /

Ultimately, it will lead to the two lakes that completely froze up every winter.

The frozen lakes give visitors a mesmerizing winter wonderland that they won’t forget.

However, getting there is quite challenging.

View of Ice Lakes Trail

Kristi Blokhin /

Endure a 7-mile expedition to reach the Ice Lake while another 8.4-mile trek to reach the Island Lake.

Adding challenge is the slight increase of elevation of about 2,500 feet en-route to the lake.

However, the jaw-dropping beauty of the frozen lakes rewards your tiring journey upon reaching the area.

View of Ice Lakes Trail

Kristi Blokhin /

Take a Step Back in Time Teller House Hotel

Another historic hotel in Silverton will captivate you with its old beauty and history.

The Teller House Hotel in Silverton is one of the historical places in Silverton that’s on the National Register of Historic Places’ list along with the Grand Imperial Hotel.

Its historical significance to the town of Silverton earned its inclusion to the historical governing body’s list.

This hotel, built in the 1890s, is famous for its beautiful Victorian and old woodwork design.

The hotel’s name was a tribute to Silverton businessman Henry Moore Teller who helped the town’s economic growth.

If you want to learn more about Silverton’s history, you can visit its mini-museum, and if you’re going to stay for the rest of the night, the hotel offers good-quality accommodation.

It has ten fully-furnished guestrooms with antique Victorian furniture along with excellent amenities such as Wi-Fi, television, a radiator, and many more.

Jump Off a Helicopter at the Ski Silverton Mountain

The Ski Silverton Mountain is another snowboarding and skiing destination that is not for the faint-hearted.

Experience the heart-pounding helicopter drop on your snowboard or ski while descending hundreds of feet on a snow trail.

This place has more vertical and technical trails to experience authentic mountain snowboarding and skiing than the Kendall Mountain Ski Area.

If you’re an experienced snowboarder or skier, this place is your perfect destination for an exhilarating helicopter drop descending the snowy Silverton Mountain.

It has a total of 22,00 acres of snowy terrain that is exclusive for those who visit there.

Revisit History at San Juan County Historical Society

To preserve the rich history of Silverton and the rest of the San Juan County, this non-profit organization, the San Juan County Historical Society, was formed in 1964.

They maintain Silverton and San Juan’s historic mines, smelters, mills, and boarding houses, which helped the entire county flourish.

The San Juan County Historical Society helped establish historical landmarks not just in Silverton but also in Mayflower, Narrow Gauge Railroad, and Durango.

Their main headquarters is in downtown Silverton in a three-story building that houses restoration, curation, and a mini-museum that you can visit.

So, if you want to thoroughly learn Silverton and San Juan County’s rich mining history, visit the San Juan County Historical Society.

Traverse the Majestic Million Dollar Highway Scenic Byway

View of the Mountain peak to Durango and Silverton

Kristi Blokhin /

The Million Dollar Highway is known as the most picturesque thoroughfares of Colorado.

The road’s construction costs about $10,000 per square mile, which earned its name the “Million Dollar Highway.”

However, the road’s construction was crucial in connecting New Mexico and Colorado, especially the towns like Silverton connected with the rest of the region.

View of the Mountain peak to Durango and Silverton

Kristi Blokhin /

If you’re in Silverton, you can traverse the highway to Ouray, which will force you to make several stops to take pictures of the majestic San Juan mountains.

However, the Million Dollar Mountain is quite technical because of its sharp curves, steep climbs, and exposed cliffs, so drive safely always.

Grab Some Craft Beers at Golden Block Brewery

If you’re done strolling around downtown Silverton or perhaps you came from a tiring yet wonderful trek on the mountains, head to Golden Block Brewery for a mug of freshly brewed craft beer.

Aside from their six-craft beers of IPAs and ales, the Golden Block Brewery also offers mouthwatering wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, and salads that make a perfect beer match.

Their brewery makes beer on-site and serves it fresh every time.

Also, the Golden Block Brewery is host to several town activities, making it one of the main places to go when you’re in Silverton.

Taste Authentic Cornish Pasty at the Eureka Station Restaurant

Silverton never runs out of surprising and flavorful things you should experience.

Despite its location, Silverton’s Eureka Station Restaurant serves authentic Cornish Pasty to locals and visitors year-round.

The Eureka Station Restaurant identifies itself as a Cornish Tavern which specializes in Cornish delicacies.

The restaurant is at Blair Street in downtown Silverton.

Of course, their primary specialty is the Cornish Pasty, a prevalent staple brought by Celtic and Briton immigrants to the country in the 1800s.

Aside from the pasty, they also have an excellent rotating menu featuring seasonal dishes that will surely give you a wonderful gastro experience.

Visit Mayflower Gold Mill

The Mayflower Gold Mill is situated just about two miles outside of Silverton.

It is an important historical landmark if you want further to understand San Juan County’s rich mining history.

The mill operated in 1930 and closed in 1991.

Later on, they converted it into a historical landmark and now serve as a tourist attraction.

Currently, the Mayflower Gold Mill is taken care of by the San Juan County Historical Society.

The mill offers regular guided tours and non-guided tours for visitors.

You can interact with different milling equipment in the area to fully immerse in how the miners and people of San Juan County work daily.

To complete your experience, head to its gift shop to score exciting memorabilia and souvenir items.

Take a Rest at Grand Imperial Hotel

View of Grand Imperial Hotel

Kristi Blokhin /

If you want a cozy place to stay while learning history, check in at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton’s downtown.

The hotel is considered the most well-known accommodation in Silverton after being commissioned in 1882.

W.S Thomson, a New York Native, funded and built the hotel to serve as the social center in San Juan County.

It took ten months to complete the hotel by using granite as its foundation.

Today, the Grand Imperial Hotel is more than just an attraction.

It also serves as the former town seat for housing numerous public offices in the early 1940s.

In 1951, it underwent a major renovation and was reopened permanently as a hotel until today.

Ride the Snowy Slopes at the Kendall Mountain Ski Area

Despite its relatively small size, the Kendall Mountain ski area remains popular with both tourists and locals.

Compared to other ski and snowboard sights in Colorado, this place is perfect for beginners and kids who want to try this extreme sport.

Today, the Kendall Mountain ski area is the best place for people to learn snowboarding and skiing.

It has a terrain that is not as technical as other sights in Colorado, but for those who want more thrill, they have a total of four trails, with some having rails and jumps for skiers to do their tricks.

They also have a chair lift to reach the higher point of the ski area.

They have skiing and snowboarding lessons there and have snowboard and ski equipment rental.

Treat Yourself to Good Food and Booze at the Avalanche Brewing Company

This restaurant located at the heart of Silverton earned four stars on Yelp from 130 reviews because of its delicious gourmet menu offering.

They specialize in beer match food such as Mexican food, pizza, burgers, and many more.

Visitors often leave an excellent review of this restaurant not just for their delicious food but the atmosphere and the warm hospitality.

After conquering the snowy slopes of the San Juan mountains, head to Avalanche Brewing Company for a hearty meal and a pint of fine beer.

The restaurant recently moved to a much bigger location at 1151 Greene St. in Silverton.

Tour Around Silverton Aboard ATV

The Middleton Motorsports offers tourists a chance to roam around Silverton and its famous treks and mountains aboard their All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) and other vehicles.

They have snowmobiles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, and dirt bikes to rent.

It’s perfect for Silverton’s treks, mountains, and unpaved pathways.

Middleton Motorsports’ machines will be your perfect partner for a whole day of adventure.

Plus, they also offer services for visitors who bring their motorsports vehicles to Silverton.

To visit Middleton Sports for their ATVs or their dirt bike, head to 315 Greene Street in Silverton.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Silverton, CO!

If you want to balance adventure and history for your next travel, Silverton must be the next place you should visit.

Its rich mining history, old-town vibes, and snowy mountains perfect for ski adventure is the ideal recipe for a one-of-a-kind adventure that you shouldn’t miss.

So, why wait?

Lace up your boots, pack your gear up, and head to this charming small town!

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