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Camp Bird Mine - 13 Things to Know Before Visiting

Camp Bird Mine, Colorado 81301, USA

Outdoors- Other
1 Day Treks
Old Ruins

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About Camp Bird Mine

The Camp Bird Mine was a gold and silver mine located in Ouray County. It was one of the most productive mines in the San Juans, and at its peak, it employed over 400 workers. The mine operated for over 20 years, until it was finally closed in 1991. During its time, the Camp Bird Mine produced over $50 million worth of gold and silver. Today, the mine is a popular tourist attraction, and visitors can take a tour of the tunnels and see the equipment that was used to extract the precious metals.

Things to Do at Camp Bird Mine

Camp Bird Mine is located in Ouray County, Colorado. The area is rich in history and there are plenty of things to do for visitors of all ages. For those interested in history, the Camp Bird Mine offers guided tours of the mine itself as well as the nearby ghost town of Ironton. Visitors can also explore the many hiking trails in the area or take a scenic drive through the beautiful San Juan Mountains. Ouray County is also home to several hot springs, which are perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring. 

History of Camp Bird Mine

The mine was established in 1896 by prospector George Sanborn. It was originally operated as an underground mine, but later became an open-pit mine. By the early 1900s, the Camp Bird Mine was one of the richest gold mines in Colorado, producing over $20 million worth of gold. The mine continued to operate until 1950, when it was closed due to declining gold prices.

By 1899, the mine was producing over $1 million worth of gold per year. The mine continued to operate until World War II, when it was forced to close due to a shortage of workers. In total, the Camp Bird Mine produced over $30 million worth of gold. Today, the mine is a popular tourist attraction. 

Best Time to Visit Camp Bird Mine

The best time to visit Camp Bird Mine is in the summer. The weather is warm and dry, making it ideal for hiking and exploring the area. The mine is open to the public from June through September, and during this time you can see the inside of the mine, tour the historic buildings, and pan for gold. 

Tips for Visiting Camp Bird Mine

  1. Check the weather forecast before you go. Camp Bird Mine is located in a high mountain valley, and weather conditions can change rapidly. Be sure to dress accordingly and pack supplies for inclement weather.
  2. Bring a flashlight or headlamp. You'll need it for exploring the dark tunnels of the mine.
  3. Be prepared for a workout. There are some steep sections inside the mine, and you'll be doing a lot of walking (and climbing, if you want to explore all of the tunnels).
  4.  Keep your hands to yourself. Please don't touch any of the historic artifacts inside the mine. Not only is it disrespectful, but you could also damage them irreparably with your oils and sweat. If you want to take photos of artifacts, use a flash diffuser to avoid causing glare or reflections.
  5. Don't wander off the path. The tunnels can be maze-like, and it's easy to get lost if you're not paying attention to where you're going. If you do get turned around, stop and backtrack until you find a familiar landmark or the main path again. Better yet, stick with a group so you don't have to worry about getting lost at all!

Interesting Facts and Trivias About Camp Bird Mine

  1. Visitors to the Camp Bird Mine can take a tour of the mine's facilities and see firsthand how the mining process took place.
  2. The Camp Bird Mine is the only gold mine in Colorado that you can tour without a guide.
  3. Many of the original buildings and equipment are still on-site, making the Camp Bird Mine a fascinating glimpse into Colorado's mining history.
  4. By 1880, the Camp Bird Mine was producing over $100,000 worth of gold each year.
  5. The mine continued to operate until 1953 when it finally closed its doors for good.
  6. Visitors can explore the remains of the mine shafts and see firsthand where the gold was extracted from the rock.

How Much Time Did Visitors Spend at Camp Bird Mine

The guided tour of the mine lasts approximately one hour, and visitors are encouraged to allow plenty of time to explore the site before heading back into town. 

How to Reach Camp Bird Mine

The mine is located just outside the town of Ouray, and it can be reached by a number of different routes. From Ouray, the mine can be reached by taking County Road 3 south for about two miles. This road leads to a parking area near the base of the mining claim. From here, visitors can either hike or take a four-wheel drive vehicle up the claim.

Entrance Fee of Camp Bird Mine

The entrance fee for the mine is $5 per person. Children under the age of 6 are free.

Opening Hours of Camp Bird Mine

The mine is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Attractions Near Camp Bird Mine

Kennebec Trailhead
Kennebec Trailhead3.61km from Camp Bird Mine

This magnificent trail cuts straight up through the Kennebec Valley, curving back and forth with the mighty river while overlooking woods and mountains. It runs from Embden to Bingham and makes for very comfortable travel. The surface of the trail is crushed gravel, and it's ideal for bikers, walkers, skiers, snowmobilers - just about anyone.

Hesperus Mountain
Hesperus Mountain4.72km from Camp Bird Mine

Hesperus Mountain is the highest peak in Montezuma County. The mountain is located in the San Juan National Forest, and its summit offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Hesperus Mountain is popular with hikers and campers, and there are several trails that lead to the top. The summit can also be reached by car, and there is a small parking lot at the trailhead. Visitors to Hesperus Mountain are sure to be impressed by its beauty, and the hike to the top is well worth the effort.

La Plata Canyon
La Plata Canyon6.58km from Camp Bird Mine

La Plata Canyon is located west of Durango in the San Juan National Forest area of southwest Colorado. Rugged mountains and snow-melt waterfalls await visitors to this verdant, river-cut canyon.Although this trail is not singletrack, it offers nice views and wildflowers the further up you go, making the climb worth it. This trail is approximately 9.25 miles in length from the main parking area and gains over 2,800 feet.

Hesperus Ski Area
Hesperus Ski Area14.43km from Camp Bird Mine

Hesperus Ski Area is 8,880 feet above sea level. 80% of the skiable terrain is lighted for night skiing. It has 13 runs, of which 30% are beginner difficulty, 20% are intermediate and 50% are of expert difficulty. It also features one rope tow and one double chair lift. There is also a full service snack bar, ski and snowboard rentals, ski and snowboard lessons and a tubing hill.

Hermosa Creek Trail
Hermosa Creek Trail16.53km from Camp Bird Mine

The Hermosa Creek Trail is one of the best and most popular trails in the Durango area. There are several route options including an out and back on the singletrack portion of Hermosa Creek Trail. The main trail is very obvious. You will see several trail junctions along the way, but the main Hermosa Creek Trail is always the most well-worn route.

Dalton Ranch Golf Club
Dalton Ranch Golf Club18.32km from Camp Bird Mine

Dalton Ranch Golf Club is a semi – private 18 hole golf course located in the magnificent Animas Valley, north of Durango, Colorado.This isn’t only a place to get a spectacular round of golf in - the Club hosts multiple programs for children and families. Swimming lessons, pickleball, and golf classes are available for children.

Where is Camp Bird Mine

Discover More Attractions in Ouray County, Where Camp Bird Mine Is Located

Ouray County
Ouray County
31 attractions

Ouray County is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, offering something for everyone regardless of their preferred activity. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders flock to the county's slopes, while in the summer months hikers and climbers take to the mountains. There are also ample opportunities for jeeping, fishing, horseback riding, and more.