A few months back we studied cowboys in school and John became obsessed with visiting cowboy towns, aka Ghost Towns. We visited a local reconstructed ghost town about an hour from our house called the J. Lorraine Ghost Town after I saw it highlighted on the show Day Trippers. Both kids had an amazing time and of course dressed the part for their visit, complete with jeans and cowboy hats and bandannas. It was a nice surprise that the area we would be visiting during our end of Summer vacation had a famous ghost town, The St Elmo Ghost Town. We were quick to add it to our itinerary.
St Elmo Ghost Town: Location
Located 10,000 feet deep in the Sawatch Range, 20 miles southwest of Buena Vista Colorado in the Upper Arkansas Valley. St. Elmo Ghost Town sits beautifully preserved and waiting for visitors. Rich in history and interesting tales.
St Elmo Ghost Town: What to Do
When you visit St. Elmo Ghost Town you aren’t going to find a shiny tourist attraction. You are going to find the town well preserved and interesting. If you are there for a day of off-roading there are many trails around the area that are equipped only for 4 wheel drive vehicles and give you a beautiful view of the Sawatch Range. You will see many jeeps, razors and other off road vehicles. Many of these can be rented in near by towns like Salida or Buena Vista. We had an amazing time the day we rented a jeep and spent the day exploring.
When you pull into town stop into the Miner’s Exchange to pick up snacks, souvenirs and chipmunk food. Directly in front of the Miner’s Exchange the chipmunks gather and they are just waiting for you to bring them seeds. We hand fed the little critters and the kids loved it. John was unsure what to do at first but within a few minutes he settled and had them eating out of the palm of his hand. I love the look of astonishment on his face when the first one came right up to him. So glad I captured it.
Make sure to walk the actual town and take in all of the amazing structures. You can stay in an existing cabin if you are interested in staying overnight. We walked along the buildings taking them in, several have interiors that you can enter and see dated photos and read some history on the exact building.
We decided to walk down the the creek that runs through town and play in the water a bit. While cooling off the kids “panned for gold” and had a great time finding tiny little specks of something shiny in the water. So bring a few sifting pans to let the kids play for sure.
All in all it was a great adventure. We spent about 3 hours total round trip from the main road. So play a half day trip or pack a lunch and spend the full day exploring all of those awesome trails around the area. The St. Elmo Ghost Town is a must see for sure.