St. Elmo, CO

I recently paid a visit to the ghost town of St. Elmo, located in Chaffee County. Turn off US Hwy 285 onto County Road 162 at Nathrop and continue on until you get to St. Elmo. It's about 17 miles from Nathrop to St. Elmo, which sits at an elevation of 9,961 feet. On the way in you pass Mt. Princeton Hots Springs Resort and several other hot springs. Once you enter San Isabel National Forest you leave civilization behind and the drive through Chalk Creek Canyon becomes very scenic. Turns out that St. Elmo is not completely a ghost town. Much or all of the town is privately owned, and I believe that the owners and/or some employees live there. St. Elmo has a general store and a small B&B.

Entering San Isabel National Forest

Chalk Creek Drive (County Road 162)

Chalk Creek Drive (County Road 162)

Chalk Creek

Main Street, St. Elmo

End of the line, start of the trail

St. Elmo Buildings

Several of the buildings were being renovated when I visited St. Elmo, and I only got a peek inside one of them. Bad timing on my part. I believe city hall is the building that I could go inside, but I'm not 100% sure.

Stark Bros. Store/Post Office

Interior of City Hall?

Interior of City Hall?

Dan Clark Home circa 1881

Williams House c. 1880

Whitney Fobes Main House c. 1882

American House Hotel Parlour c. 1882

Building on Main Street

The Ghost Town Guest House B&B

St. Elmo General Store

St. Elmo General Store is a "full service" general store, selling just about anything and everything. It even has a large inventory of antiques for sale.

St. Elmo General Store

Interior of General Store

Lots of antiques

Lots of old wagon wheels

More stuff

Interesting arrangement

Old Wagon for Sale

Former gas station
Now antique annex


There are numerous feeders around the general store that attract lots and lots of hummingbirds. There are also legions of chipmunks and ground squirrels. There's even an area with lots of helter-skelter planks where visitors can sit and feed the little guys.

Hummingbirds at the general store

Hummingbirds at the general store

More hummingbirds at the general store


Up close and personal ground squirrel

Humans bonding with rodents

Bonus - Chalk Lake Campground

If you would like to stay a while and you're into camping and/or fishing then Chalk Lake Campground is the place for you. It's located a couple of miles down Chalk Creek Drive from St. Elmo. Bring your RV or tent and fishin' pole. Chalk Lake is restocked with Rainbow trout on a regular basis.

Chalk Lake Campground

Good place for RVs

Good place for tents

Good water

Good facilities

Bonus - Chalk Cliffs Trout Rearing Unit

A mile or two after turning onto County Road 162 from US HWY 285 turn right onto County Road 287 to get to the Chalk Cliffs Fish Hatchery. Chalk Cliffs is the second largest of the 19 Colorado State fish hatcheries. The unit has a concrete raceway and seven holding ponds, and raises around 700,000 Rainbow trout annually. Chalk Cliffs hatchery stocks waters along the Front Range from Loveland to New Mexico, and east almost to Kansas. The volunteer on duty at the visitor center was super friendly and knowledgeable. Best of all, he gave me lots of fish food. Kudos.

Welcome to Chalk Cliffs Hatchery

Visitor Center

Visitor Center with educational materials

Wildlife Displays

Hatchery Panorama

Trout in Raceway

Holding Pond

Trout in Holding Pond

Feeding the Fish

Ducks on a Pond

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