Summitville is the site of an old abandoned mining town and a more-recently abandoned open-pit gold mine. Although the mine seriously polluted the area’s creeks and rivers in the 1980s and 1990s, the surrounding spruce-fir forests remain some of the healthiest and most extensive in the state. A good map will be essential, as the road system is substantial. In addition to the usual high-elevation wildlife like Red Crossbills, Gray Jays, Pine Grosbeaks, elk, marmots, pine martens, porcupines, and snowshoe hares, the intrepid and lucky might find Boreal Owls here at night in summer and fall. If the weather is good and the transmission tower road has been maintained, you may be able to drive up to near the summit of Grayback Mountain, above treeline, where the tundra can produce butterflies such as Phoebus Parnassian and Mead’s Sulphur. This is a remote and seemingly pristine area with numerous rewards for nature watchers.
County: Rio Grande
Attractions: Historic mining area. Many original outbuildings still standing.
Habitat: Spruce-Fir Forest
Directions: On US 160 in Mineral County just west of the Rio Grande County line, cross bridge over South Fork of the Rio Grande river on FR 380 (south). Follow FR 380 14 miles south and east to Summitville. There are a variety of other forest service roads that will also lead you here.
Delorme: 89 A5
Roads of Colorado: 141 E4
Dates of Access: Roads not maintained in winter
Ownership: US Forest Service
Restrictions: Beware poor road conditions. Please respect and help preserve old buildings.
Lodging: Primitive camping
Handicapped Access: Viewing from car