Creede, Colorado: A Year-Round Destination for Outdoor Fun


Known as the “last silver boom town,” Creede offers visitors over 100 years of Wild West history combined with world-class outdoor recreation. From hiking and fishing to theater and seasonal festivals, Creede is a Colorado town that provides something for everyone.


  • Creede is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery with ample hiking, biking, fishing, and winter sports.
  • It has a unique mining heritage visible through historic landmarks like the Underground Mining Museum.
  • The town hosts special events year-round, like the Creede Repertory Theatre and the Fall Colors Festival.
  • Accommodations range from family-friendly resorts to cozy mountain cabins.
  • Families enjoy activities like train rides, mine tours, and seasonal camps.
  • Spring through fall offers the best weather, but winter sports are also popular.

Breathtaking Natural Surroundings

The seat of Mineral County, Creede, is enveloped by the 1.8 million-acre Rio Grande National Forest, which provides easy access to some of Colorado’s most spectacular wilderness. Over millennia, volcanic activity, glaciers, and erosion have shaped the area, creating dramatic peaks, valleys, and canyon walls.

Visitors can take in the sweeping views along one of the nearby scenic byways. The Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway connects Creede to Lake City 55 miles to the north. Highlights along the route include vista points overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge and Sherman, the abandoned mining town turned ghost town. To the south of Creede, Pagosa Springs is known for its hot springs.

For an unforgettable mountain drive, Cottonwood Pass takes travelers 12,126 feet above sea level, with panoramas of the surrounding fourteeners along the way. The road twists through aspen groves and past alpine lakes before descending into the quaint mining settlement of Buena Vista.

Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Creede for its wealth of recreational opportunities across stunning landscapes. Over 200 miles of trails cater to hikers and mountain bikers of all abilities. Fishermen can cast a line for trout in the Rio Grande, its tributaries, and high alpine lakes. The area even offers prime spots for foraging wild mushrooms and berries in late summer.

From Silver Boom to Cultural Renaissance

While Creede’s wilderness is its top draw today, the town wouldn’t exist without the silver mining boom of the 1800s. Settlers first rushed to the canyon in 1889 when prospector Nicholas Creede uncovered a vein of silver so pure it could be pulled from the ground by hand. Within a year, Creede’s population exploded to over 10,000 people.

Even before the silver prospector’s discoveries, Creede had a colorful history. This mountain town was the site of Bob Ford’s Old Bar, where Jesse James was killed. Visitors can tour the historic Creede Underground Mining Museum for a glimpse into the town’s rough-and-tumble mining days. Once an active mine tunnel, the museum delves into the technology that made Creede one of the world’s most productive silver camps. Other landmarks, such as the old Denver and Rio Grande Railroad depot and the 1892 City Hall building, recall Creede’s legacy as a lawless frontier town.

While the last mine closed in 1985, Creede has continued to evolve as a haven for art and culture. For over 50 years, the Creede Repertory Theatre has put on critically acclaimed performances in rotating repertory. History and theater buffs flock to Creede each summer to take in a diverse lineup of dramas, musicals, and comedies at the company’s intimate theater.

Beyond the performing arts, Creede also hosts regular cultural events that embody its free-spirited mountain spirit. In late September, the Fall Colors Festival fills the streets with local arts and crafts, beer tastings, and performances by folk musicians. And the underground mining heritage takes center stage once more during the annual Boom Days celebration each June.

Four Distinct Seasons: Endless Things To Do

One of Creede’s charms is that every season offers entirely different experiences. As the wildflowers fade in fall, the hillsides transform into a sea of shimmering gold aspens – a sight that attracts leaf peepers from across the state. Autumn also promises crisp air and snow-dusted peaks, making it ideal for hiking and biking scenic trails like the Bachelor Loop. Late September brings the Creede Mountain Run, where runners climb over 2,600 feet from the canyon floor to the 10,222-foot summit of Willow Creek Pass.

As winter sets in, outdoor enthusiasts trade hiking boots for skis to carve through fresh powder at Wolf Creek Ski Area. Located just 12 miles from Creede, Wolf Creek receives some of the highest annual snowfall in Colorado and boasts excellent backcountry terrain. Meanwhile, in town, visitors can go on horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, and even an underground mine tour 1,500 feet below the frozen surface.

When the wildflowers return in June, so too do opportunities for family adventures. Train rides through the canyon, interactive mining tours, and panning for gems allow kids to experience Creede’s history hands-on. Families also flock to Creede each summer for year-round favorites like hiking to overlooks along the Bachelor Loop, riding the historic carousel, and swimming in the hot springs pool fed by natural geothermal waters.

From classical theater to cowboy-mounted shooting contests, Creede’s quirky events lineup continues all summer. One beloved tradition is the Creede Mountain Theatre Project, where talented students from around the country write, produce, and perform original plays. Aspiring thespians aged 7 to 18 can apply to the one-of-a-kind summer camp each spring.

Lodging and Dining: Comfort with Character

At the end of an unforgettable day outdoors, Creede offers many unique places to unwind. Channel the town’s pioneer spirit by staying in a restored 19th-century cabin or boarding house. For a true escape, choose one of the secluded cabins just minutes outside of town but seemingly worlds away. Most local accommodations provide easy access to the Rio Grande for fishing right from your doorstep.

In addition to boutique hotels and private vacation rentals, Creede boasts an impressive selection of resorts and dude ranches. The Creede Hotel and Restaurant has welcomed guests at the edge of town since 1892. Visitors can dine at the hotel’s scenic restaurant, The Old Firehouse, before relaxing by the courtyard fire pits. The all-inclusive Creede Creekside Cabins are just up the road, offering modern cabins clustered around a playground and clubhouse.

Of course, the best way to sample Creede’s mining town culture is through its hearty cuisine. Tuck into buffalo burgers and elk sausage at local institutions like the Tommyknocker Tavern, named for the mischievous sprites of mining folklore. Or stop by the General Store for house-smoked barbecue paired with craft beers from the region’s many microbreweries.

For fine dining with a taste of the Southwest, Kip’s Grill and Cantina serves upscale takes on Tex-Mex dishes on their creekside patio.

Making Memories with the Whole Family

With its laid-back attitude and wealth of kid-friendly activities, Creede makes the perfect family getaway. The best place to start is exploring the historic Creede Underground Mining Museum. The mile-long tour transports visitors deep inside Bachelor Mine as guides recount tales from its wild past. Kids can even try their hand at panning for amethysts, quartz crystals, and other gems at the mine’s sluice.

Above ground, families can experience the Old West by riding on the country’s last narrow gauge railroad. The Creede Historical Society Museum also provides interactive exhibits and scavenger hunts for budding historians. Just across the street in City Park, kids can let loose at the playground, petting zoo, and vintage carousel.

Kids and kids-at-heart can soar over the mountains by zipline for a high-flying adventure. Adventuresome families can also book a whitewater rafting trip, climb a via Ferrata course, or saddle up for a horseback ride. With so many activities, events, and gorgeous scenery, Creede promises memories to last a lifetime.

Planning Your Creede Adventure

While Creede offers year-round excitement, late spring to early fall provides the most pleasant weather for outdoor adventures. Summertime ushers in the warmest temperatures and long days primed for hiking, biking, camping, and sightseeing. Be sure to book accommodations and theater tickets early, as rooms fill up fast during the peak visitor season.

Fall rewards travelers with fewer crowds, stunning foliage of golden aspens, and seasonal festivals. The weather is generally mild, though nights grow cold. Be prepared with layers and bring traction devices if hiking early when trails can still be icy. Late fall may bring light snow at higher elevations.

Tire chains and emergency supplies should be used for winter trips when driving the mountain passes to Creede, as heavy snow is common. The town receives over 300 inches of snow per year, making it nirvana for skiers and snowboarders. Be sure to book ski rentals/lessons and snowmobile tours well in advance.

No matter when you visit, Creede provides gorgeous scenery straight out of the Old West. With historic charm, cultural events, boundless wilderness, and family adventures, Creede beckons as your next Colorado mountain getaway.


What is there to do in Creede besides outdoor activities?

In addition to endless trails and scenic drives perfect for hiking and biking, Creede offers historic mine tours, museums, shopping at local artisan boutiques, horseback riding, and cultural events like plays at the renowned Creede Repertory Theatre.

Does Creede get crowded in summer?

Summertime is considered the peak tourist season, bringing more visitors for the nice weather, outdoor recreation, and events like the Creede Mountain Theatre Project. Still, Creede does not get nearly as crowded as better-known mountain towns. Lodging does book up more, so reserve early.

Is Creede a good winter vacation spot?

Definitely! Creede transforms into a snow-covered playground each winter, perfect for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more. The town gets over 300 inches of snow per year and has stunning scenery. Visit in winter for fewer crowds and lower room rates.

What is the best way to get to Creede?

Creede is remote, located high in the San Juan Mountains between South Fork and Lake City. The most convenient airport is Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional (GUC), 85 miles away. You can rent a car or use a shuttle service to access Creede. The drive from Denver International Airport takes about 5 hours.

Is there cell phone reception and internet access in Creede?

Cell phone coverage can be spotty in the mountains around Creede, especially in remote cabins. In town, most accommodations offer WIFI access for internet browsing, emails, etc. For connectivity on the trails, download maps offline before your trip.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.