The Wild West vibe of early mining days still reverberates in Silverton, though never quite as powerfully as it will this month, when the niche sport of skijoring returns to the town’s former red-light district, known locally as “Notorious Blair Street.” The event (February 16 and 17) provides the perfect reason to visit the charming downtown and step through the bright storefront facades of yesteryear to discover what’s new. Plus, should you grow weary of city life, adrenaline fixes abound just beyond Silverton’s main streets.


Silverton Skijoring, founded in 2010, offers one of only five opportunities to witness the obscure sport in Colorado. (Bonus: Admission is free.) Not familiar? A horse and rider pull ski-clad daredevils through the snow, often over jumps, water-ski-style, at speeds as fast as 40 mph. (Organizers canceled last year’s event after a spooked horse ran into the crowd during the 2017 edition, injuring two people. New safety standards have improved the barriers between spectators and steeds.)

In skijoring, a horse and rider pull ski-clad daredevils through the snow, often over jumps, at speeds as fast as 40 mph. Photo courtesy of Ray Dileo.

Silverton SoapBox

Locals would have been devastated when this family-owned business shut down its Blair Street store last October, had it not been for the fact that it reopened a few blocks over a month later. Buy jars of soy candles and handmade-in-Silverton soaps, which incorporate oats (a natural exfoliant) and essential oils, at the new location. 1206 Green St.

Silverton Soapbox. Photo courtesy of Colin and Scottie Peterman

Ice Pirates Backcountry Adventures

This outfitter’s two-hour snowmobile tours (starting at $165) begin at Molas Pass. Be sure to bring a camera to capture views of the San Juan Mountains and frozen Molas Lake below.

Avalanche Brewing Company

From-scratch pizza—our favorite, the Meathead, lives up to its name with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and ham—pairs well with the chocolatey, brewed-on-site Pride of the West Porter. 1067 Blair St.

Courtesy of Avalanche Brewing Company.

Silverton Mountain

With 3,087 vertical feet of ungroomed terrain, Silverton Mountain is not for the new-to-skis. Experts, though, can ride the only chairlift ($179 for a daily lift ticket) or hire a helicopter ($1,190 per person for six drops) to transport them, with a guide, to 25,000 acres of steeps, chutes, and gullies. 6226 CO 110

Courtesy of Silverton Mountain.

The Avon

Originally a boarding home by day with a bordello in the basement by night, this 1904 edifice now hosts a 14-room hotel. The renovated Avon, opened in 2018, kept the original Douglas fir floors in most rooms but added modern flourishes such as a surround sound speaker system in the basement music venue, plus a bar made of slate and granite slabs and flecks of real gold. $40 per night for hostel-style lodging, or private rooms start at $95 per night; 144 E. 10th St.

Kendall Mountain Ski Area

The family-friendly slopes of Kendall Mountain ($17 to $25 for daily lift tickets) offer a cushy alternative for skiers wary of Silverton Mountain. If skiing’s not your thing, try snowshoes or visit the ice rink and sledding hill. 1 Kendall Place

This article was originally published in 5280 February 2019.
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil
Angela Ufheil is a Denver-based journalist and 5280's former digital senior associate editor.