Red Mountain Mining District

The Red Mountain Mining District is a historic mining area located between Silverton and Ouray along US 550, the “Million Dollar Highway”. It was the site of a silver mining boom lasting rom 1882 until 1893. The Red Mountain Mining District extends for over five miles from Ironton Park in the north to just south of Red Mountain Pass along US 550. At its peak the district included some 40 mines and six small towns; Albany, Congress, Chattanooga, Guston, Ironton and Red Mountain Town. With the exception of Ironton, there is little left of any of the towns.

Red Mountain Mining District Map 1891

Red Mountain #1, 2, and 3

Red Mountain #2

Red Mountain #3


Heading south from Ouray US 550 climbs steeply through some switchbacks before flattening out around 9,600 feet at Ironton Park at the northern edge of the mining district. The remains of the old mining town of Ironton are located along Ouray County Road 20D on the east side of US 550. The northern end of CR 20D, located at the Mineral Creek Staging Area, parallels US 550 for about a mile, then joins US 550 again at its southern end. There are old buildings along the length of CR 20D, but the best preserved are in the Ironton townsite at its southern end. There are camping areas located along the middle portion of CR 20D.

Still is a bulding, sort of
North end of CR 20D

Building interior

Sign at south junction of CR 20D and US 550

A little about Ironton

Well preserved two-story building

Building interior

Milled log cabin

Red Mountain Creek

One more building

A few structures of the Larson Brothers Mine are located across US 550 from Ironton Park. These include the boarding house and mine entrance.

Boarding house/office building
Larson Brothers Mine

Building interior

Larson Brothers Mine

Ore cart rails leading into the mine adit

Adit interior leading to shaft

Joker Tunnel

The Joker Tunnel Mine is a gold mine located between Ironton and Red Mountain Overlook. It was a gold mine located at an altitude of 10,200 ft. I came across it during my reasearch and wanted to photograph it. Unfortunately access to the mine was closed off. I did get photos of the mine dumps and old boarding house through the trees. Maybe better luck next time.

The Joker (37°55'20.2794"N, 107°41'35.16"W)

Unfortunately, off limits

Mine dumps

Boarding House near Joker Tunnel

Red Mountain Overlook and Idarado Mining Company

The Red Mountain Overlook is a mandatory stop when touring the Red Mountain Mining District. It's located midway between Ouray (11.4 miles) and Silverton (12.3 miles). Several viewing areas and informational signs on the history of the Red Mountain Mining District are situated around the overlook. There are views of some of the more iconic mines of the district to the east across U.S. 550. The Idarado Mine is located just across the highway to the south.

The Idarado Mining Company is a conglomeration of old mines of the Red Mountain Mining District. The company acquired the Treasury Tunnel and mill in Pandora in 1939. The treasury tunnel was driven in 1896. The tunnel begins at the Idarado Mine and ends at the Pandora Mill near Telluride. It extends 5 miles under the mountains via a series of adits and shafts that drop 1,500 feet. The elevated trestle leading into the mine is across the highway from the overlook.
Idarado purchased ten houses from the bankrupt Sunnyside Mine in Eureka and moved them to Red Mountain for employee housing. Four of these historic structures are still perched behind Red Mountain Overlook. The houses were closed for renovation when I took the photos below in August of 2021.
Red Mountain Mining District continues for another mile south from the Idorado Mine, ending just beyond Red Mountain Pass.

Genesee-Vanderbilt Mine
View from Red Mountain Overlook

Yankee Girl Mine (1/4 mile east)
View from Red Mountain Overlook

Idarado Mining Company

Idarado Mine trestle

Miner's house

Painted curtains

Two-story miner's house

Mines along Ouray County Road 31

Some of the most famous mines of the Red Mountain Mining District are located along Ouray County Road 31. The short (2.5 miles) road passes by the Guston, Yankee Girl, Genesee-Vanderbilt, and National Bell Mines. A short side trip will also take you to the Cora Bell Mine. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. CR 31 connects with U.S. 550 at both its north and south ends. Click the link to drive Ouray CR 31.

Mines along Ouray County Road 31

Yankee Girl Mine

Genessee Mine

National Belle Mine

Mines along Forest Road 825

Forest Road 825 (aka San Juan CR 14) is located just to the east of US 550 and south of Red Mountain Pass. Several mines that are historically part of the Red Mountain Mining District are located along this road. These include Brooklyn, Congress, Carbon Lake, Koehler Tunnel, and Longfellow Mines. Click the link to visit some of these mines.

Mines along Forest Road 825

Brooklyn Mine

Carbon Lake Mine

Longfellow Mine

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