St Elmo and Tincup Pass


While the sun has come back (thank you, Lord), in recent days, the one thing you can count on in the Colorado mountains is that a thunderstorm will pass through in the afternoon.


One of the things Randy and I don’t want to see happen is getting caught up in the mountains during a storm.  The roads can turn muddy and slick real quick.


On Sunday, the weather was decent enough to take a drive to St Elmo and up to the top of Tincup Pass.


With Mount Antero on one side and  Mount Princeton on the other, it is a beautiful fifteen mile drive to St Elmo.


We had traveled just over fifty miles before we even got the wheels of the Jeep on the county road that leads up to St Elmo.


I am an image collector of strange and different signs.  This sign is at the top of my list of one of the most unusual I have seen.


This area is loaded with hot springs, and resorts with hot spring pools.  The largest resort that I saw, Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort, had at least four pools, one with a water slide.  One doesn’t have to be a guest at the lodge to enjoy the hot springs pools.  There is a daily rate if you just want to pop in to swim or soak.


Chalk Creek is named after the white clay cliffs that stand at the entrance to the Chalk Creek valley.  The cliffs are a result of deposits made by the hot springs.


St Elmo claims to be a ghost town, it’s decline brought on by the downturn in the mining industry.


Originally named ‘Forest City’, the town was founded in 1880.  When the mining for gold and silver started, the town had a population of nearly 2,000.


Since there were many other towns with the same name, the town changed it’s name to St Elmo.  The name is from a novel that Griffith Evans was reading at the time.  Mr Evans was a founding father of Forest City / St Elmo.


I wonder, are there any founding mothers?

During the mining peak of the 1890’s, there were 150 patented mines in the St Elmo area.  The most profitable mine, The Mary Murphy Mine, recovered over $60,000.00 worth of gold.


Today, St Elmo is considered an inhabited ghost town.  It is a very popular tourist attraction.  As you can see by the above picture, there were quite a few people in town.


Many buildings have been refurbished and turned into a business.  I was disappointed, as this is not the kind of ghost town I want to see.


After maneuvering our way through the congestion of Seattle, I mean St Elmo, Randy turned the Jeep towards the trail leading to Tincup Pass.


The first portion of the route is very rocky.  It was probably the bumpiest trail we have been on.


It was a long six miles!  I wore my seatbelt, which is something I don’t often do when we are out exploring in the Jeep.


St Elmo and Tincup Pass is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in these parts of Colorado.


The trail was a virtual highway of RZR’s, dirt bikes, ATV’s, mountain bikers, hikers, campers and Jeeps.


There were even a couple of brave soul’s that took the family mini-van up the pass.


When a brand-new Tahoe pulled over to let us pass, I made up a story about a couple of divorced dads who had their kids for the weekend.  One dad convinced his ex-wife to let him borrow her new Tahoe because the little ones would be more comfortable in it, since his pal and his kids were along for the day.


Of course, the ex-husband did not tell the ex-wife the plan was to go 4-wheeling in her new Tahoe.  She didn’t find out until the kids were home, dad had gone back to his lonely bachelor apartment and little Jimmy told mommy what kind of fun they had.


I need to write a book.


With all the traffic on the trail and campers here and there along the road, Randy and I were surprised to see any kind of a critter.


“Momma.  Momma!  Wait for me!”


Randy thought this might be a chukar, which is part of the pheasant family.  The Google images I found didn’t match up to a chukar and I still haven’t figured out what type of bird this is.


There were quite a few very nice campsites along the trail, some single sites and some for groups.  Randy has mentioned buying a tent and spending a night out in the great outdoors.  When, if, this ever comes to be, I will hand him a pillow and the packed ice chest and say, ‘See ya tomorrow.’


As one can imagine, the scenery was beautiful.


It would be a beautiful trip to see the fall colors.


Because of the snow on the pass, it is not unusual for the road to the top to be closed up until June 30th.


Playin’ in the snow.

Randy is used to me asking him to stop and back up so that I can take a picture of something.  Usually a wildflower.  This trip, with all types of off-road vehicles whizzing back and forth on the road, I knew that safety was more important than the pictures.


Tincup Pass gets its name from Jim Taylor, a prospector who in 1860 brought his gold strike back to camp in his tin cup.


Our plan was to go over Tincup Pass, through Hancock Pass and on to Hancock, another ghost town.


The Forest Service, however, has closed the Hancock side of the pass to motor vehicle traffic.  This is to preserve the alpine soil.


There was a steady stream of traffic on the way down.  Everyone was heading towards home on a Sunday afternoon.


Had Randy and I known how popular this area is, we would have found a different place to explore.


Roxy and Otis found a spot to play hide and seek.


Roxy spies Otis …


… Here he comes, not a care in the world.


Since what goes up must come down, and what drives fifty miles to a trail has to drive fifty miles back, the four of us were very tired peeps and pups.  It was an early night for us all.

Adventurously Yours Signature02-05-2015

2 thoughts on “St Elmo and Tincup Pass

  1. Wow what a beautiful place. That town looks super interesting. I’m pretty sure your bird is a grouse.

What do you think?