The Best Summer Getaways: Silverton, Colorado

Climb a fourteener

May 14, 2012
Outside Magazine
The San Juans near Silverton

The San Juans near Silverton    Photo: Dan Leeth

Handies Peak may be high (14,048 feet) and remote (the trailhead is two hours down a rowdy four-wheel-drive road). But it’s one of Colorado’s few 14,000-foot peaks that is completely nontechnical—meaning it’s ideal for rookies. Base yourself in the old mining town and recreation hub of Silverton—90 minutes from the Durango airport—and rent a four-wheel drive from Silver Summit RV Park and JeepRentals (from $150 per day). Drive 21 miles north over Cinnamon Pass, camp at the American Basin trailhead, and wake up early on summit day to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. The trail leads about four miles through wildflower-choked meadows, rugged rockfall, and the occasional family of bighorn sheep to a bald summit with stunning views. The next day, head back to Silverton and crash at the 1896 Teller House Hotel (from $89). Better yet: come July 4 weekend and stay in Silverton on the big night, when local firemen unleash an outsize display of fireworks that echo off the steep valley walls.