Ironton Townsite

Round Trip Distance: 0.6 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 9806 - 9875 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Ironton
Fee: none
Attractions: Mining ghost town

The Ironton Townsite is located off of the Million Dollar Highway south of Ouray, Colorado. Ironton is one of the newest mining ghost towns in the state of Colorado. It was first settled in 1883 and had a peak population of over 1000 residents (Wikipedia) Its last resident, Milton Larsen, lived there until his death in the 1960's. Now it sits as a reminder of the past with frequent travelers along the Million Dollar Highway stopping to visit its remaining buildings.

To get to the trailhead drive south out of Ouray on Highway 550 for about 8 miles. The sign in this photo is on the left hand side of the road.

There isn't a lot of room to park where the trailhead sign is at the turnoff. Most passenger cars should be able to drive the tenth of a mile from the highway to the townsite. If not there are several wide spots in the road where you can park without blocking the way.

Most of the buildings are standing just as they have been for the past decades that have passed since anyone called them home. The Ouray County Historical Society does what it can to preserve as much of the rich history as possible.

These houses are sure to bring back a lot of memories for some of the older visitors.

They might remember the arsenic wallpaper with its distinct smell. Often times it was the only barrier that kept the wind from blowing through the cracks in the walls that had little or no insulation.

An old victorian house is one of the larger buildings and one of the most popular for visitors.

Much of the townsite is slowly being taken over by the forest where trails through the trees now serve as sidewalks to get from place to place.

Ironton is spread out along the rust stained banks of Red Mountain Creek. The water contains a lot of heavy metals that leech from the tailings piles of the many abandoned mines and the mineral rich slopes of Red Mountain. One can imagine the health problems the local residents may have experienced drinking the tainted water while sitting in their arsenic enshrouded homes heated by wood burning stoves. Yup, 'those were the days'.

We noticed at least one outhouse still standing but if you aren't careful the first step where the floor is rotted away might land you in the basement.

It is Ouray County Road 20D that runs by Ironton. There are several primitive camping spots along the road. There is room in a few places to accommodate a large RV.

It is surprising how many folks stop and tour the Ironton Townsite. There are other short trails to do in the area such as the Colorado Boy, Beaver/Belfast Mine and the Mears trail. Some of the longer hikes in the Ironton Park area include Hayden Mountain, the Richmond trail and Gray Copper Falls. There are also several popular routes for OHV enthusiasts to explore. As far as the Ironton Townsite goes if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.