This ghost town is full of history, dozens of mine roads and mines, homesteads, tunnels and amazing scenery.
Red Mountain Mining District lies between Ouray and Silverton on Highway 550 (better known as the Million Dollar Highway). County Road 31 exits off the highway, threads through the mountinous district, runs parallel to the highway, and eventually dumps you back on Highway 550. If you stop at the Scenic Overlook above the Idarado Mining Complex, you will be looking across at the Red Mountain Mining District. See those tiny 4x4s waaaay over there driving around? That can be you.
It takes about 20 minutes to drive through Red Mountain Mining District, but that’s without stopping to take photos or to explore the many side roads in the area. If you begin by turning on CR 31 and drive in the direction from Silverton to Ouray, you will see the townsite of Red Mountain Town, which is just a swampy are on the right. The townsite was eventually moved farther in, closer to the National Belle Mine, which quickly comes up on your left on a mountainside known as “the Knob.” If you take the side road to the base of “the Knob” you will better see the crumbling remnants of the National Belle. It opened in 1883 after workmen discovered a huge cavern filled with silver and galena. One small structure can still be found at the base of “the Knob.” It’s the town jail, so check it out!
This trail takes you up on the mountainside among the old mines and looks over the old townsites of Red Mountain town, Red Mountain City, Guston, and several other towns that made up the District.
The Yankee Girl Mine
One of the coolest, most impressive and most photographed mines in Colorado is the Yankee Girl Mine, which appear bow you on the left as you wind around the mountain. The Yankee Girl was discovered on August 14, 1882 and was considered the mother lode, as it became one of the richest, most profitable and famous mines in in the history of silver mining in the Unites States. After the Yankee Girl Mine was discovered, people poured into the Red Mountain Mining District and it became a famous, rowdy, rich town.
Photo Opp: Today, the Yankee Girl Mine’s headframe is all that remains. You can walk right up to it and a shaft is covered by boards and warnings, so be careful. The Yankee Girl Mine graces many postcards that come out of Colorado.
The Red Mountain Mining District is covered with mine roads, so take your time to explore both in your 4WD and on foot. Imagine how it looked in the 1800s, with saloons, restaurants, businesses, schools, and even a post office!
Continue the trail until it comes back out on Highway 550. turn right to go into Ouray, or turn left to head to Silverton.