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Dealer’s Choice

Spring in Silverton means gravel grinding, hiking, and skiing. Come on down and indulge in your outdoor pleasure.

Picture Silverton and what comes to mind? The tiny powder skiing Mecca nestled in an ancient volcanic caldera and surrounded by the skyscraping peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Even though Silverton is largely known for its prolific skiing and old-fashioned Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, spring there offers access to some of the best outdoor recreation in Colorado. Hop on the gravel grinder for gut-busting rides, lace up your running shoes and traipse along miles of perfect of singletrack, and (if your legs and knees are still up for it after the winter) break out your skis and boards to harvest the San Juans’ famous corn snow. No matter what you do with your day, Silverton’s bars and restaurants are waiting—and plentiful.

Eureka! Finding the Motherload of High-Alpine Gravel Grinding
Gravel roads abound in Silverton, left over from the area’s once-thriving hardrock mining industry. As such, if you’re hankering to hop on your gravel bike and put some miles between you and cell service, you’re in the right place. One highlighted route is Silverton to Eureka, a tiny ghost town northeast of Silverton built on the banks of the Animas River. The 15-mile out-and-back offers stunning views and a chance to check out the area’s mining history. From Main Street, head northeast on CR-2 and out to Eureka, then turn around and ride back. Bonus: You can buy ice cream sandwiches for a mid-ride refuel at the Eureka Miner and Prospector, a seasonal country store built across the river from the abandoned Sunnyside Mill.

Hit the Trail on Molas Pass
Spring in the Rockies usually signals one thing: melting snow. While the San Juans surrounding Silverton are usually locked-in until June, the area’s abundance of trails start to reveal themselves by late May/early June. From the parking lot on Molas Pass, the endeavoring hiker or trail runner will find themselves in single-track heaven. Get there by heading south out of Silverton on Highway 550 for about 10 minutes, then pulling into the parking lot on the left side of the road. From there, it’s dealer’s choice! In the mood to camp out surrounded by stunning peaks and alpine lakes? Hit the 10-mile round-trip Crater Lake Trail. Just looking for a quick jaunt to take in the views and look at the newly blooming wildflowers? Jog up the 3.6-mile Twin Sisters Trail.

Ski the Grande Couloir
Still in denial that ski season is coming to an end? We’ve been there. For the more stubborn winter-sports enthusiasts among us, Silverton is the perfect place to squeeze out a couple more turns once the lifts have stopped spinning. The best place to go is Velocity Basin, which holds snow until July and is just a short drive north from Silverton on CO 110A. Follow the road for about 20 minutes, then park at the Gladstone Mine, gear up, and hike or skin the remaining mile and a half on County Road 52. Once you’re in Velocity Basin, options for harvesting corn abound. Just remember that it is avalanche terrain and not patrolled, so make sure you have the proper gear and know-how to navigate the terrain safely. If you’re brave enough and if conditions permit, you can even skim the pond at the bottom of the basin.

Fuel the Fun
Whether you’re just starting your day of adventure or coming back from an epic excursion, Silverton offers a healthy variety of options to fuel your fun. Hit up Coffee Bear on Main Street to sip a latte and map out your adventure. At the end of your fun, take a stroll down the lowkey main drag and choose from the several breweries and restaurants that offer good grub and that lovely small-town hospitality.
For more information on places to stay, things to do, and where to engage in something totally Silverton-y go to the Silverton Area Chamber of Commerce’s website and the Visit Silverton page: silvertonchamber

PHOTOS (TOP TO BOTTOM) Wikimedia Commons, Scout Edmondson (x2)

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