At 11,000 feet and nestled within the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, Animas Forks Ghost Town harkens back to the days of prospectors and gold mines.  Miners built the town’s first cabins in 1873 when they moved to the area in search of gold. At its height, Animas Forks had 450 residences and 30 cabins, a hotel, a saloon, a general store and a post office. It even had its own newspaper! But most of the gold mining in the area had ceased by 1910, and Animas Forks was a ghost town by 1920.

Today, more than 100,000 people take a step back in time each year by visiting the abandoned town, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can find Animas Forks along the Alpine Loop Backcountry Byway, 12 miles northeast of Silverton, Colo. The best way to explore the region is in the summer by Jeep, as many of the byway’s roads are unpaved and the area is generally snowy and muddy by late fall. Nine of the original buildings still stand and are open to entry, thanks to collaboration with San Juan County and various partner groups to stabilize and restore them.

View more stops along #mypubliclandsroadtrip with our @esri storymaps:


Sedum lanceolatum is in the family Crassulaceae. Commonly known as yellow stonecrop, it is native to western North America in montane and subalpine areas. This succulent plant produces small fleshy leaves that only grow up to an inch long. These leaves are generally red until they fully mature. The plant bears bundles of large yellow flowers during the summer. It is believed that this plant evolved in isolation from other species of stonecrop during the last ice age. When glaciers used to cover most of North America, small ice free islands of land harbored many species of plants which were essentially isolated from other populations. This isolation over time is thought to have given rise to the yellow stonecrop.


Colorado rivers offer floats through scenic canyons, lush landscapes and historical resources.

The predominately free-flowing San Miguel River extends 72 miles from high alpine meadows and waterfalls above Telluride to a deep red sandstone canyon confluence with the Dolores River. The San Miguel offers a variety of runs, all within the class II+ to III range. The Dolores River flows for more than 200 miles through southwestern Colorado, starting high in the San Juan Mountains and descending to its confluence with the Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah border.

Last week, BLM Colorado staff, local residents and local organizations – including Colorado Water Conservation Board, The Nature Conservancy, Rimrocker Historical Society, Sheep Mountain Alliance, American Whitewater, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Rig to Flip and county commissioners – floated sections of the San Miguel and Dolores rivers for a first-hand look at river conditions, riparian health and local history.

Photos of San Miguel River shown here by Dana Wilson, BLM.

I will be on greatly limited communication (Tumblr & Skype mobile only) from this Saturday (July 9th) through next Sunday (July 17th).

We’re going to Ouray, Colorado to relax in the hot springs, hike in the San Juan Mountains, and ride motorcycles all week! I might share some photos here if folks are interested. I will be checking Tumblr off and on all week, but if there’s something you know you’d like me to see, please tag me in it!

This hiatus applies to all character sub-blogs as well: