As a first timer to Durango Colorado, or any historic Old West mining town, you have a mental list of places that you should visit, things you should see and do, but really, you have little background knowledge. When thinking of Colorado, towns like Denver, Vail, Aspen, and Telluride come to mind. You arrive, expecting to see mountains….lots of mountains. And you do. You wake up each day thinking that you could get used to the view of the rugged peaks of the Rockies. But what you didn’t realize is that beyond those mountains, there is so much more history and tradition in the little towns that get forgotten unless you know to look. Towns like Silverton Colorado, historic, magical towns that make you glad you made the time to do more than just ski during your vacation.
Driving to Silverton Colorado
Ok, or maybe that is just me. Maybe it is just me that agreed to take a winter drive up and over, down and around a mountain, to the magical town of Silverton. Once a mining town, connected to Durango by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Silverton sits at 9,318 feet and makes you feel like you have stepped back in time, to the days of the Wild West. Silverton is a National Historic Landmark, and that mountain road that you drive up and over, down and around, is part of the San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway connecting Silverton to Ouray. The drive is worth mentioning, because on a snowy day, you might think twice before attempting to visit Silverton. Unless of course you are a backcountry skier, in which case this is the mountain for you as evidenced by the large number of cars pulled over to the side and mountain woods dotted with ski trails.
Shopping in Silverton
Truthfully, winter may not be the best time to visit Silverton as the train is only open Thursday through Sunday and does not reach Silverton (it stops in Cascade Canyon). On the other hand, winter is the perfect time to visit Silverton to imagine what it might have been like in the olden days.
Exploring Silverton, especially in the winter, is also probably best on a week day or Saturday, since most of the adorable shops, restaurants, and saloon like establishments were closed on the bitter cold Sunday morning that we visited. Closed shops or not, it is hard not to be transfixed by the colorful buildings and wide streets that look like something out of an old Western movie.
Deliciousness in Silverton
Finding refuge from the cold, we found ourselves welcomed into the only open establishment, quickly realizing that Cafe Mobius was more than just a coffee shop. This neighborhood treasure, where locals come in and get their “regular” beverage without even asking, was like looking into the window of a family room where friends sit down to read the paper or catch up. And
Although I doubt that cappuccinos were around during the olden times in Silverton, the incredibly kind Megan Kimmel, general manager of Cafe Mobius, served up an absolutely perfect cappuccino and delicious hot chocolate (with bonus sprinkles).
Although it would have been nice to peek inside the gift and antique shops, I am not sure that Silverton would have had the same magic and mystique had it not been covered in snow and empty of tourists.
People are not kidding when they say that Silverton Colorado is unlike any place else you have visited. Winter or not, up and over, down and around the mountain, Silverton is one of those, magical, transport you back in time towns.
Have you ever been to Silverton? Or maybe another town that stuck with you as a magical place?