Clear Creek Canyon is located in the San Isabel National Forest between Buena Vista and Leadville. Take Highway 24 to Clear Creek Reservoir, then head west on Chaffee County Road 390. The first 4 to 5 miles of dirt road are pretty smooth. Beyond there, the road gets bumpy as it follows Clear Creek past the ghost towns of Beaver City, Vicksburg, Rockdale, & Winfield. Unless there is snow on the road, a two wheel drive car will get you all the way to Winfield.
After driving approximately 6 miles on Chaffee Co Rd 390, Beaver City is the first ghost town you will arrive at. Just beyond the roadside sign is the first cabin. A 2nd cabin, Dawson Cabin, is a little further up the road. Dawson Cabin has been maintained and is available to rent from the USFS for $50/night. These 2 cabins are all that remain of the original twenty homes in Beaver City.
Located about 8 miles into Clear Creek Canyon, Vicksburg's population reached over 600 at one time. From the parking area, follow a path past several old buildings and artifacts from area mines. One of the buildings has a push button with a recording about local history. This building is furnished and sometimes opened on weekends in the summer months.
The original cabins on the north side of the tree-lined street are privately owned.
Two miles west of Vicksburg is a sign for the Crescent Mining Camp. Turn left here and you are in Rockdale, also known as Silverdale in the early 1880's. Two of the four cabins are available to rent from the USFS.
From Rockdale, you may be able to take a side trip to the remains of the old fish hatchery at Clohesy Lake. Follow the road past all 4 cabins to Clear Creek. The trip requires creek crossings in a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, which may be impossible in early summer when melting snow has them at an elevated level.
Follow Chaffee Co Rd 390 two miles beyond Rockdale (about 12 miles from Hwy 24) to the town of Winfield. Winfield was the largest town in the area, reaching a population of 1500 people at its peak. Today there is an old school house and the Ball Cabin. Both buildings are furnished and include old photos of the town along with informative kiosks. The school has a push button for a recording with historical information. Several privately owned cabins are located in town as well. A camping area with an outhouse is located just across the Clear Creek bridge.
Beyond Winfield, four-wheel drive is required. The remains of the Banker Mine are about 1.5 miles up the road.
Area Activities / Directions
Camping - A campground is just west of the Clear Creek Reservoir or there are a number of dispersed campsites along Chaffee Co Rd 390
Fishing & Boating - Salmon, trout, & muskies can be found in Clear Creek Reservoir
Hiking - Missouri Gulch Trail, Sheep Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.
From Leadville - Take US 24 south 20 miles to Chaffee County Road 390/Clear Creek Reservoir
From Buena Vista - Take US 24 north 15 miles to Co Rd 390/Clear Creek Reservoir and then head west