Silverton, Colorado is a great mountain town for vacation. But tragedy left the small town struggling to stay afloat. What can you do to help?

Downtown Silverton, Colorado
Downtown Silverton, Colorado
Photo by Mary Kooiker
Not for reuse

Tragedy strikes again and again for Silverton, Colorado

  • June 2018, the train that runs tourists between Durango and Silverton, Colorado was the cause of a forest fire. The train will not be running. Indefinitely.
  • Winter of 2018-2019 caused an avalanche that left trails unpassable.
  • December 2019 a historic building downtown Silverton burned. The town lost power, phone service, and half of its community water source. As of today. The burned building and two other businesses next to it stand empty.
  • June 2020 Washout at Elk River closes train from Durango to Silverton for eight to sixteen weeks.
  • Covid-19, spring 2020, shut down the mountain community for weeks. This caused a devastating effect on the communities’ tourist economy. Furthermore, Covid-19 has caused a shortage of food supplies and employees for businesses that are trying to stay open.

I recently took a bike trip to Silverton, Colorado. There, my fiancé and I rented a Jeep and traversed a few of the mountain passes that were open. The trip was bittersweet. I was on Cloud 9 to go Jeeping in the mountain ranges of Silverton, Colorado, but the town was not filled with groups of tourists. It was quiet and empty. By 6 in the evening, most of the shops and restaurants were closed, and the streets were silent. The hotel where we stayed had no amenities open. During the day most of the shops didn’t open at all.

When we spoke with the local people, the continuous tragic strikes against the small mountain community were wreaking havoc on their lives, dreams, and businesses. They couldn’t get food delivered. They couldn’t get employees. They no longer get the many tourists from the trains. Many passes were closed. They weren’t getting tourists from the mountain towns of Durango, Ouray, Lake City, and Telluride.

Traverse the mountain passes of Silverton, Colorado
Traverse the mountain passes of Silverton, Colorado
Photo by Mary Kooiker
Not for Reuse

What can we tourists, travelers, and vacationers do to help Silverton?

I felt so bad for these good people. Their lives and dreams, and even the town are at stake. What can tourists do about it? GO TO SILVERTON, COLORADO! Silverton is officially open for the season on July 1. Yet, they are still facing the financial consequences of so many difficult times.

Here’s what you can do, and not do, to help Silverton get on their feet again

  • Do book a room. Don’t complain if some amenities-such as attached restaurants or bars-are closed.
  • Do rent Jeeps and side-by-sides. Don’t cancel because the train isn’t running. Matter-of-fact, tourists that usually book a train, drive instead!
  • Do go hiking and camping!
  • Do eat out. Support the restaurants that are open. Be patient with the restaurant owners and employees. The social distancing rules they have to follow aren’t their choice or fault. Order what’s available on the menu. Don’t complain about what isn’t available.
  • Do patronize the shops that are open. They need your business! Don’t complain about the shops that aren’t open. It isn’t their fault.

In the 21st century, little mountain towns shouldn’t die out. It isn’t the 1800s anymore. Let’s not allow a favorite tourist attraction to become a ghost town. Save Silverton, Colorado!


How do you help small towns on your travels? Do you help small towns? Let us know in the comments down below.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss out on travel ideas, tips, and tricks to make the best of your Colorado trips!