You know it’s not a roadtrip unless we end up exploring abandoned places…
Coming down the Bachelors Loop back towards Creede to head back to South Fork, we pulled off so I could take a better look at a structure partially obscured by trees and snow. Of course that ended up with me grabbing my camera and dragging myself (and the bf) to go up and over the hill, to better explore what looked more and and more interesting by the second.
I’m still not quite sure what this place is/was to be perfectly honest. When I looked at the Bachelor Loop map more close, it looks like this isn’t actually on there? The closest spot is #15, which is the Creede Cemetery (where I took the photo of that church from the end of my last post) but after that is #14 which is the Creede Scenic Overlook (again from where I took last posts photos). I remember passing a sign that said “Ponderosa” but thats about the best my memory serves me and no matter how much googling i’ve done, i’ve come up with nothing to give a name to this abandoned structure. To be sure, I also don’t remember any “Private Property” signs- which we saw a lot of while doing the other parts of the Bachelor Loop- and given the graffiti we saw inside plus the general air of disuse, i’m pretty sure I didn’t go stumbling through just anywhere.
What I do know for certain is that it was entirely unexpected but more wonderfully interesting and i’m always happy to get a chance to explore gems like this, even if I can’t always put a name to them.
The plans were, as always, loose and easily changeable. We woke up decently early to head from South Fork towards Creede and take the Bachelors Loop Tour before heading on over to Lake City. By the way, the only reason we planned to go to Lake City is because the bf had mentioned this as a place I should visit more than a dozen times since our last visit and it was my goal to once and for all just make it out there, damn any and all impediments…of course that steely eyed determination and my own hubris would end up being my downfall but, more on that later.
I had actually previously visited Creede and the beginnings of the Bachelor loop but last time we had been driving a sedan and hadn’t been able to make it more than partially up the loop. This time, we were better prepared BUT unfortunately we didn’t take the weather into consideration and ended up having to stop even before we started, as the part of the loop that starts right past the mining museum was closed off with cinder blocks. And so that was disappointing but, I still got a chance to see the familiar structures from before and had fun driving through the sleepy town of Creede (it would be the first of many times we passed through it) before we headed back to our cabin to regroup for the day.
We had counted on using the next day to drive out to the Great Sand Dunes NP but after the bf looked up the weather forecast and saw a projected thunderstorm heading into that area, we headed back to South Fork to chill for a couple of hours before making the decision to finish out the day there. That part of the day at least, turned out to be perfectly planned.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’re probably a least a little familiar with my love for ghost towns and places where time’s been less than kind. From my explorations here in Texas around some Sherman Factories to my great overabundance of places I found to explore in Death Valley NP, like the ghost town of Rhyolite and the Skidoo Stamp Mill,i’m always up for exploring anywhere with even a little bit of grime settled in the stone. And like i’ve told the boyfriend- it’s not a roadtrip unless there’s a ghost town somewhere on the itinerary.
To be perfectly honest though, we weren’t expecting to find any ghost towns on this last trip to Colorado, not because there aren’t any (there are SO many) but because they’re all mainly situated up in the mountains and are inaccessible during the winter season. The only reason we decided to try and make out way to this one was because we happened to be in the area. After leaving Rocky Mountain NP we didn’t really have set plans for what to do next and since we were just a short-ish drive from Nederland we decided why not, lets go for it.
The road to go up to the remains of Caribou is situated just before the main center of Nederland (which btw, is a super cool little town that I would recommend visiting just for itself if you’ve the spare time, it reminded me of the area around Salvation Mountain something fierce) and while it was somewhat muddy and a bit winding, the pay off at the end was well worth it. There’s not much left of the former silver mining town, but then again, I never go expecting much. Whats mainly there, the draw if you will, is two large stone buildings, which I know, doesn’t sound like it would be worth a trip… but for someone like me, it was fantastic.
The weather was cold but crisp and if anything the snow surrounding the buildings (and nestled inside them) made the whole scene even more picturesque, which was a small departure from the usual vibe I get when I visit these kinds of places (that vibe being of mild depression or creepiness….which is to be expected). That feeling of history however, that was still very much there.
– a good post to check out if your interested in reading up on the town more or if you happen to be in the area and just maybe would like to stop on by : UncoveredColorado, Caribou
There’s been so many articles, think-pieces, documentaries, podcast episodes and yes, even blog-posts done about the Salton Sea that if I were to try and compile a list of them it would take me longer than it did to drive out there. So this post isn’t going to be me explaining how the Salton Sea happened (an engineering disaster) or it’s history of glamour and now near destitution. For that I’ll direct you to this article/podcast on the subject,A Sea Worth It’s Salt, produced by one of my favorite podcasts, 99% Invisible.
This post is just me sharing the photos I took on the trip out there, and inviting anyone who has an interest in the odd, interesting or just plain weird to visit this area, and not just Sea. We came out here because i’ve had a strong fascination with the area since I still lived in California, starting when I was around 13 or so, and the pull this whole place has that makes weirdness converge like nowhere else. It’s less than an hours drive from Joshua Tree National Park, so it’s definetly easy to make it a day trip and while the whole beach was deserted when we visited, the visitor center staffed a wonderfully charming guy who put on some music while me and the bf browsed for postcards and who seemed genuinely passionate about working there.
We didn’t take a dip in the waters of the Sea before we left, because no matter how beach-y and idyllic it may look, your feet are actually crunching down on dead fish and tiny fishbones instead of just sand. The weather had skyrocketed up to the high 90’s as well, so we booked it out down the road towards Salvation Mountain, but pulled into Bombay Beach first, to check out the abandoned houses we’d read were scattered all over. To tell you the truth though, this place was definetly more populated than we expected and the further away from the main road we go, the more Mad Max things started to become. Our bright orange Jeep was definetly an outsider and before long we left to keep heading out towards our original destination.
Visit for the novelty, for the weirdness, even just for the sense of odd peacefulness you get as the water laps up the shore and you step over dead fish to look out across the great expanse. Maybe I just like weird places and maybe my wanting to visit since I was a teenager clouds my judgement a little, but both the Salton Sea and Bombay Beach were amazing places to visit and get to explore, that sense of being off the beaten path never felt so strong as when I was there.
There’s places you visit where you feel like if you could just reach out and touch the right surface, you might get a true glimpse into the past.
I pick the places I visit based on just one thing- my interest in them. There’s places in Death Valley National Park that are known as “must visit” places that we skipped over (like Zabriskie Point) either because I didn’t feel like battling the crowds to get to them or because there were other places I wanted to see more. No one recommended the ghost town site of Skidoo and yet, it was my most favorite part of the trip.
Rhyolite would be a close second except for the fun fact that technically, it’s not actually part of Death Valley NP. It lies just outside the boundaries of the park, on the way to the town of Beatty and U.S. Route 95 (which will take you back to Las Vegas). If you’re heading out of the park in that direction or you happen to be taking the difficult way into Titus Canyon, which IS in the parks boundaries, then I highly recommend taking a small detour to check this place out. Or you can go like I did, aiming full on ready just for this ghost town and nothing else.
There were only a few people walking around when we got here, and as the sun crept lower and lower, the eeriness of the town grew. I really enjoy visiting and exploring abandoned areas and structures- there’s just something about places that time has passed on by that just tugs at something deep within me- and Rhyolite is so far the best of these places i’ve visited. If you’re at all interested in places like this and your in the area (or even if your not) I couldn’t recommend making a trip out here more than I already have.