We took an extended Labor Day holiday this past weekend and hopped into the adventure mobile to head up to Colorado. The route to our destination totaled an 11.5 hour drive (not including pit stops) because we wanted to make a stop at Monument Valley and Four Corners (which is on my bucket list). Our plan:
Unfortunately, while crawling/jumping/exploring Animas Forks, I lost the memory card containing pictures of Monument Valley, Four Corners and part of exploring Animas Forks and the caves we ventured into. I was, and still am, completely bummed about this. BUT, my husband, being the awesome husband that he is, suggested taking the route through Four Corners and Monument Valley again on the way home. So our itinerary went like this instead:
I was bummed about missing out on the Petrified Forest National Park since it's on my Arizona To Do List, but Monument Valley (after the Grand Canyon) is the epic symbol of Arizona. Anyway, since I lost that memory card, our adventure will start part way through our exploration of Animas Forks!
The first building in Animas Forks went up in 1873. By the late 1870's, it had grown large enough to boast of a hotel! By early 1900's, mining was on the decline and the last mine closed in 1910. It became a ghost town in the 1920's.
The route to Animas Forks is part of the Alpine Loop National Back Country Byway. The entire Byway itself consists of 65 miles of unpaved road and requires a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle after hitting the ghost town of Animas Forks. If you're in a... say, Honda Civic (good car, BTW), you can still make it to Animas Forks, but after that you would need a 4x4.
At 2 points, we got out to explore 2 caves. One cave was shallow, another went much deeper and was very muddy. We also found wild cat foot prints and quickly scurried out of the 2nd cave shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, the photos of the cave and our... misadventure, of climbing over a waterfall to get back to the jeep were on the memory card that was lost. Along with photos of the first 3 buildings we explored in Animas Forks. Here are the rest of the abandoned cabins though:
There was another abandoned building just up the road:
But not quite:
We headed back after exploring this last building so we could check out Historic, downtown Silverton. We did make one last stop on the Alpine Loop to check out an abandoned car:
Downtown Silverton seemed to consist more of restaurants and Native American crafts/jewelry stores. Afterwards, we headed back on Route 550, which is littered with abandoned mining cabins and more recent houses. We stopped off at the view point overlooking the Yankee Girl Mine that is on Red Mountain:
Here are other abandoned houses (the more recent variety) that were near the look out point:
Can you imagine what it must've been like raising a family in the 1870's in such a remote place? Apparently the winters were so difficult that every fall, the people in Animas Forks migrated to Silverton, which probably wasn't THAT much better during wintertime!
I wonder when Tucson is going to become a ghost town.....⇐ Ice Lakes Trail | Mount Rainier ⇒