Step into the past - visit our special heritage places!

photo of the guard station in 1920 with four people standing on porch

The Alpine Guard Station near Lake City, Colorado (1920).

Special Heritage Places on the GMUG National Forest

Historic Sites

  • Alpine Tunnel : A sight  to see for any train or history fanatic! Come explore the remaining 10 miles of railroad with numerous historical structures along the way including engine house, station buildings, water tanks, and much more! 
  • Alpine Guard Station:  During the 1920’s,  the area was home to one of the largest sheep grazing industry’s in the nation, with over 1,000,000 sheep! Times have changed since then, but one can still picture those ghostly figures of the past welcoming you. You may even hear the sound of those countless sheep in distance.
  • Atlas Mill:  Located on the hillside of Stony Mountain just above Canyon Creek Road near Ouray, lie the remains of this 1900s built mine! Although the production of minerals seceded long ago, the canyon in which it lies and the scattered remains of what once was can still stir the imagination!
  • Colorado Boy Mine:  If you find yourself headed out of Ouray towards Silverton, cast a glance up towards the lonely timber pines on the edge of Ironton Park and you  may catch a glimpse of the Colorado Boy Mine. While this mine is visible from the road, an air of seclusion shrouds it.   Those that venture the short hike to the site, can imagine the  past that lingers within.
  • Culturally Scarred Trees (CST) Although the forests have seen many changes since the 1800s, the Ute Indians left their mark not just in history, but literally imbedded on the Ponderosa Pines, which tell their unique story. Next time you go into the forest, look closely and you can find the stories of their lives!
  • Dorchester:  At one time Dorchester used to be a bustling town, at least by 1910 standards. Today all that remains of the town is the cabin style ranger station built in 1920. While the grandeur of this town has faded, the spirit of what once was still lingers!
  • Fairview Peak Fire Lookout– Fairview Peak boasts as the highest fire lookout in North America at an elevation of 13,214 feet! Only a short 45 minute hike to the top and you will find yourself basking in the gorgeous scenic views from this historic one room stone hut constructed in 1912 and perched high on the mountain top!
  • Fort Peabody:  What is perhaps exceptional about this fort is not only its unique history, but the breathtaking views in every direction, snow covered peaks, jagged red rocks, and rolling green hills - Fort Peabody has it all! 
  • Galloping Goose Rail to Trail:  Trains seem to bring us back in time and take us on adventures we never thought possible, The Galloping Goose trail is no different! Today this historical railroad has been transformed into a 15 mile path that takes you on a journey to forgotten historical landmarks, through deep mystical canyons, and past magnificent wildlife!
  • Lands' End Shelter House:  What is outstanding about this building is its breathtaking location; visitors can look down on the valley 6,000 feet below and on a clear day see all the way to the La Sal Mountains in Utah. The structure is also surrounded by gorgeous meadows filled with all the colors of the Colorado wild flowers in summer!
  • Raber Cabin:  This historic cabin holds within its walls the tales and stories of the early days of cow camps! Come experience it yourself by taking the 0.2 mile loop trail around the old lonely cabins and corral. 
  • Mountain King Mine:  This mine had a large mining operation and was operated for over 70 years. However, many decades have passed since those days and the sounds of the mine have faded deep into the canyon walls, but if you find yourself in the area of Ironton Park, you may want to pay this ole mine a visit and see if those sounds can be stirred once more!
  • Neosho Mine:  Perched on the edge of a black, rocky cliff overlooking the Million Dollar Highway near Ouray, are the historic structural remains of the Neosho Mine. It is viewed by thousands every year, but visited by few!
  • Historic Ranger Stations: Each of these historic ranger stations have their own unique tale to tell! Visitors can get even closer to the history that lies within the walls by staying the night!  These historic accomodations are available for overnight rental! If you are daring enough to spend a night out in the woods in one of these old cabins you may find yourself stepping back in
    • The Mesa Lakes Guard Station - located near Mesa Lakes on the Grand Mesa, these buildinga are surrounded by an aspen and mixed conifer forest overlooking green weltand meadows.This guard station has  the special character of the quiet retreat that welcomed rangers of long ago home after a long day in the forest. The two cabins, Moose Manor and Black Bear are available to rent.
    • Silesca Guard Station-  located on the Uncompahgre Plateau in the Ouray Ranger District. It is about 45 minutes from Montrose on Hwy 90 (rental information). 
    • Rental Information for all  Forest Service cabins.
  • Trout Lake Trestle :  Gaze out at the faded wooden tracks, smell the dampness of the air, feel the wind brush across your face, and listen for that distance train whistle blowing! You can almost see the thick black smoke rising into the air as the train comes full speed around the bend and feel the ground shake beneath you! Although decades have gone by since these lonely mountain tracks saw a train each wooden splinter of this trestle holds the memory of a time long passed!  
  • Ghost towns of the GMUG: Listen for the murmur of voices that swirl around the abandoned mining camps and towns scattered in some of the wests most extreme terrain.  One can only imagine the strength, and determination that powered men and some women to venture into the Rocky Mountains building roads, tunnels, mills, and mining towns, encountering trecherous conditions, and physical hardships to pursue their fortunes. 

Interpretive Sites - the following sites have interpretive panels or displays describing their historical significance.

  • Alpine Tunnel
  • Dorchester
  • Galloping Goose Trail
  • Lands’ End Observatory
  • Neosho Mine
  • Pieplant Mill-One of our larger historic mills on the GMUG, in its hay day around the turn of the 20th century, this mill had a capacity of 200 tons and employed 50 to 60 men! Today only the empty forgotten cabins of those men who once worked the mill can be found. Not far off, abandoned on the hillside are the faded remnants of the mill itself. Although the glory days of this mill have sinced vanished, Pieplant Mill is a great historical site to view for anyone who enjoys stepping back in time!
  • Raber Cabin  

Passport in Time- Volunteer Projects