Clear Creek Canyon is full of ruins from Colorado’s early mining days. There are four remaining ghost towns in the canyon, which lies just west of Clear Creek Reservoir from Highway 24.
Clear Creek runs the length of the canyon and is a tributary to the Arkansas River. Miners began prospecting tributaries to the Arkansas River in the 1860’s. Most of the old mining towns reached their heyday around 1890.
Vicksburg and Winfield are the best preserved out of the four. They are both located on County Road 390, which is almost halfway between Leadville and Buena Vista.
Camping at Clear Creek Canyon
There is one campground at Clear Creek Reservoir and countless, free dispersed campsites on the road back to Winfield.
Take Highway 24 north from Buena Vista or south from Leadville to CR 390/Clear Creek Res. Take this 2WD road back to the ghost towns. Winfield is the last town you reach 12 miles back.
The 2WD road should be good for most cars, but it does receive heavy truck traffic, so expect bumps. It’s open in the winter, but the road is not plowed, so the other seasons are best for seeing the ruins.
Beaver City was the first mining camp in Clear Creek Canyon. Two of the original twenty buildings remain. It’s the first old town you reach on CR 390.
Vicksburg was the second largest town in the canyon, with around 600-700 people during its peak. A museum is open some weekends during the summer. There’s also a recording outside that tells the local history, available 24/7. Many of the cabins in Vicksburg are privately owned, and seasonally occupied.
Another smaller town with several original buildings remaining. It’s located just past Vicksburg and Winfield. There are several cabins remaining.
Prospecting was done in the Winfield area in 1867, but the town didn’t reach it’s heyday until 1890. It had 1500 hundred residents and was the largest town in the canyon. There is a furnished school house and miner’s cabin, open on select weekends in summer.
This content was originally published here.