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Thread: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

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  1. #1
    Milton Tierney's Avatar
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    Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    Next year, 2018, like to take a trip to St. Elmo ghost town in CO. Planning to fly into Colorado Springs and drive to the ghost town.
    Need some advice; has anyone visited the town, what do you think of the town, what is the best time of year to visit and conditions?

  2. #2

    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Milton Tierney View Post
    Next year, 2018, like to take a trip to St. Elmo ghost town in CO. Planning to fly into Colorado Springs and drive to the ghost town.
    Need some advice; has anyone visited the town, what do you think of the town, what is the best time of year to visit and conditions?

    I visited there many times during my four-wheeling days in the San Juans. It is a quaint little town with plenty of photo opportunities. Last time I was there, someone had opened a neat little eating place. Since you get there by way of Tincup Pass, it depends on the snowfall this past winter. We normally got through in late summer and would visit the Gunnison Chamber of Commerce office first, as they have a board with the updated status of all four-wheel passes in the area. Although the pass is rugged, it is one of the more easier passes to traverse in the area. We have some Colorado members on here who can advise you on this year's snowfall. Have fun!

  3. #3

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    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    I've never been there, but in the region. It would be best, as suggested, to contact Chamber's of Commerce or National Forest offices about snow levels, AND ROAD CONDITIONS. They are not always the same.

    Going over Hancock or Tincup pass can usually only be made in late July, but that is a big IF. Plus, you better have four wheel drive, high clearance, great tires, and four-wheeling skills. Since you are coming from the Springs, avoid that unless you want an adventure of that type. Just go to Salida, then north to Natrop and west on road 162 -- much shorter and no passes.

    If my memory serves me well, St.Elmo really was a ghost town up until maybe 20 or 30 years ago when "tourists" started trashing it/ripping it apart. As I recall, and I could be wrong, someone bought it and turned it into a museum/tourist trap kind of thing -- with its plusses and minuses. I'm sure the internet and Chambers of commerce can help with those details.

  4. #4

    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    I've never been there, but in the region. It would be best, as suggested, to contact Chamber's of Commerce or National Forest offices about snow levels, AND ROAD CONDITIONS. They are not always the same.

    Going over Hancock or Tincup pass can usually only be made in late July, but that is a big IF. Plus, you better have four wheel drive, high clearance, great tires, and four-wheeling skills. Since you are coming from the Springs, avoid that unless you want an adventure of that type. Just go to Salida, then north to Natrop and west on road 162 -- much shorter and no passes.

    If my memory serves me well, St.Elmo really was a ghost town up until maybe 20 or 30 years ago when "tourists" started trashing it/ripping it apart. As I recall, and I could be wrong, someone bought it and turned it into a museum/tourist trap kind of thing -- with its plusses and minuses. I'm sure the internet and Chambers of commerce can help with those details.
    I think you are right about the commercialization of St Elmo, but I still think the trip is worth it to shoot the old buildings, if nothing else. I was assuming the OP is aware that it is a four-wheel pass to get there. Although it doesn't present with 900-1000 foot drop-offs within a foot or two of your tires such as as the case with Black Bear Pass, it can still cause vehicle damage and/or possible bodily injury. It was my very first four-wheel pass drive many years ago and my son's in 2013. Just remember one of the Cardinal Rules is not to drive immediately after one of the afternoon showers that occur almost daily, but to wait until the rocks have dried out before continuing. Off-camber angles and wet rocks can be a deadly combination. A couple from St Louis who were very experienced at this type of diving were killed by ignoring this rule. Although many have died on the more treacherous passes over the years, common sense and patience really helps prevent tragedy.

  5. #5

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    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    There's no need to go over any pass or difficult road. The shortest route is the easiest -- and by far the quickest, leaving more time for photos.

    I once tried to go over Tincup pass, but the road was WAY too rough. I once tried to get to Hancock pass but ended near the top due to a snowfield across the road. The jeep trail there is the track for an old narrow gauge railroad -- barely wide enough for one car. My passenger in the backseat was on the floor for the entire trip!

  6. #6
    Milton Tierney's Avatar
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    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    Hmmmm, should explain more. I would like to fly to Colorado from Maryland and rent a vehicle to visit St. Elmo. Should I fly into Colorado Springs or Denver? 30+ years ago I passed through CO and would like to go back to visit with my wife in July or Aug. Both of us are in our late 60’s and she a little trouble walking steep terrain. One of the things on her bucket list is to see a ghost town. I have seen a few, but she hasn’t.

    Looking at Google maps, the road “Chalk Creek Dr., rt.162”going into St. Elmo doesn’t look bad from 20 miles up. The photos of the town look like she could handle the terrain ok and would be an interesting place to see. But, Google map cannot compete with boots on the ground so asking for help from fellow LF’s.

    Is this a “fool’s errand”? Is there a similar ghost town to St. Elmo to visit in CO or another state that would be easier to excess?

  7. #7

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    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    No problem. Colorado Springs is the way to go -- unless you can get a much cheaper, or timely, flight into Denver. Going to Denver will add over an hour to your drive. Drive west from the Springs to Salida. Drive north to Nathrop (really just a crossroads). Drive west on Chalk Creek Dr. (Route 162). It's a short drive. Just follow all the other tourists (you can spot them by the out-of-state plates). There's no need to go over any pass or difficult road. My guess is about an hour and a half, scenic drive.

  8. #8

    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    No problem. Colorado Springs is the way to go -- unless you can get a much cheaper, or timely, flight into Denver. Going to Denver will add over an hour to your drive. Drive west from the Springs to Salida. Drive north to Nathrop (really just a crossroads). Drive west on Chalk Creek Dr. (Route 162). It's a short drive. Just follow all the other tourists (you can spot them by the out-of-state plates). There's no need to go over any pass or difficult road. My guess is about an hour and a half, scenic drive.
    What xkaes said. I always went to St Elmo starting on the Gunnison side, which requires four-wheel drive. If you come up starting from the Buena Vista side, the road changes from paved to dirt, but four-wheel drive not needed. I took lots of photos of St Elmo over the years and still recommend it. Since tourism is Colorado's big money maker, I can't complain when I encounter other tourists. Just need a little patience when setting up the camera and might have to wait for folks to move at times.

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    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    Yeah, I hadn't thought about that. Getting a picture in St. Elmo WITHOUT any people in it might prove a challenge. But you have two options. First, the owners of the town probably rent out actors in period costumes that will fit into the scene perfectly. Just brush up on your directorial skills. Second, get up early before the other tourists. The light will be better for photography at that time as well.

  10. #10
    Milton Tierney's Avatar
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    Re: Ghost Town,St. Elmo CO.

    Understand, worked for Smithsonian in Wash. D.C. for 25 years. Tourist can be a real challenge at times.

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