July 2023 – Creede, Colorado, is a very small town that is tucked into a canyon at the end of the road in a remote part of Colorado. With just 257 residents (2020 census), it is the most populated place in Mineral County. What’s more, it’s the only incorporated municipality in all of Mineral County to boot!
Despite its small size and remote location, Creede hosted the Colorado State Mining Championships for three days and was our choice this year to celebrate the 4th of July.
Like many Colorado towns, Creede has its roots in mining. Silver was discovered in the area around Willow Creek in 1869.
20 years after that initial silver discovery, Nicolas Creede yelled “Holy Moses” when he hit the “Holy Moses” silver vein on East Willow Creek. The town’s name was soon changed from “Willow” (for the creek) to “Creede” (for Mr. Creede)!
The town quickly became a silver boom town. Within three years it grew from 600 residents to 15,000, and its name was changed to Creede!
Nicolas Creede wasn’t done with his discoveries yet, though. He also found an amethyst vein along West Willow Creek which turned out to be the richest in US history.
In no time, not only were there silver mines, but there were amethyst mines with names like “Happy Thought Mine” and “Last Chance Mine.”
A plaque out along Willow Creek shows a photo of Creede in 1892 when the town was booming. There were buildings under construction, piles of lumber, people milling around, and a horse drawn buggy all filling the dirt street and wooden sidewalk.
At the peak of the boom, Creede was growing by 300 people a day. Every inch of flat ground in the area was built upon.
A photo of a line of mules loaded down with lumber shows just how challenging it was to build the mines, the homes and all the commercial establishments at such a fast rate back in those days. The mountains were steep and the trails were narrow!
Unfortunately, silver prices plummeted with the passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893. Amethyst mining alone wasn’t enough to sustain the crowds, and Creede’s population quickly plummeted to just 1,000 people!
Today, Creede’s Main Street is once again a lively and colorful place. It’s full of tourist boutique stores and eateries, and in the summertime the tourists outnumber the locals by many to one. Most of the roads in town are paved these days, and the sidewalk on Main Street is concrete!
The miner’s pick-axe and shovel are icons for this area, and we spotted them on signs and in artwork around town.
As we had found in most of Colorado, except for Rocky Mountain National Park, dogs are welcome in Creede! Their owners, however…well, they can come too, I guess…
Being snow and ski country, it was only fitting that a row of chairs outside a store were made of old skis. Even better, the cup holders were ski bindings!
We visited Creede in early July, and flowers were blooming everywhere.
After window shopping for a while, we wandered to the far north end of town where the pavement ends and Main Street becomes Forest Road 503, a gravel road.
This was a really scenic spot and we returned several times during our stay.
If you continue beyond this pretty spot, you are on the Bachelor Loop, a dirt road loop that goes past several old mines. It is an interesting drive that can be done in a passenger car or a Jeep or side-by-side, and that’s where we saw the plaque with old photos of Creede and the mules.
As we travel around with our RZR, we’re finding that the issue of side-by-sides and ATVs being allowed to drive around on the streets is handled differently in every town and state.
Creede has a very good system. The town is long and narrow (it fits into the mouth of a canyon) and the streets form a grid pattern. So, there’s a long Main Street down the middle and a few other long streets that run parallel to it on either side. Then there are a bunch of short cross streets that connect these roads.
Side-by-sides are not allowed on Main Street, but they’re allowed on two outer dirt roads that run parallel to it. They’re also allowed on a few of the cross streets.
So, if you’re driving a side-by-side, you can get close to where you want to go, park, and walk the remaining little bit.
We found Creede’s Main Street was really crowded with cars all day long, largely because the southern portion of it is also the major “highway” in the area. Keeping the side-by-sides to the smaller outer streets works out really well for everyone.
We visited Creede during the 4th of July week, and when we came into town on the big day, we found a fantastic chalk drawing of the Statue of Liberty on the sidewalk.
Buddy was dressed in his Independence Day finest, ready to watch the parade.
There was a lot of excitement as the town geared up for the parade. Buddy wasn’t the only one who dressed for the occasion. We saw lots of wild and creative outfits!
Little kids decorated the pavement with chalk while some very buff looking bigger kids posed for us as they waited on their float for the parade to begin.
Creede’s 4th of July parade was unique, probably due to the commmunity’s small size. There was no American flag carried by proud military veterans. There were no high school bands to play the Star Spangled Banner. And there weren’t any dance teams or rodeo queens.
However, there was still a lot of spirit. After the Grand Marshal drove by sitting on the trunk of a convertible Austin Healey, a solo bagpipe player appeared.
Lots of vehicles were decorated to the hilt, and there were literally dozens of side-by-sides too!
Every single vehicle that went by threw out candy (or bead necklaces) for the kids. Many would stop for a minute to pass the candy directly into the kids’ outstretched hands.
Most kids came well prepared for collecting candy and brought large bags for their loot. A few adults also handed out bags to ensure no child went without!
It was like Halloween. But the candy came to the kids rather than the kids going door to door to ask for it. Afterwards, the street was littered with candy that hadn’t been snatched up!
A beautiful display of handmade quilts went by, and then a toddler wobbled down the street driving her own wee side-by-side. It turned out that her mother was at the controls behind her. So cute!
Buddy loved it all, and at the end he suddenly threw his head back and let out a howl!
Throughout the 4th of July festivities, the three day long Colorado State Mining Championships were going on in town too!
Miners showed off all kinds of unusual skills as they tried to best each other. One competition was a race to see who could drill into a huge boulder to a certain depth fastest. It was incredible to watch these men handle that drill. It takes a huge amount of strength and coordination to keep it under control!
On the evening of the 4th of July, there was a fireworks display right over the big new RV park just south of town. (The park is Mountain Views at River’s Edge RV Resort — excellent and popular, book early!).
We decided to head up onto a hillside to watch the show from a distance. It was a cool vantage point that was slightly higher than the fireworks.
Lights in the neighboring homes were lit up, which added a special intimacy to the show.
Creede is a little bit out of the way. However, if you find yourself on the Silver Byway Scenic Drive, it’s a natural place to stop and a great place to hang around in an RV for a while!
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More info about Creede, Colorado:
Places we’ve celebrated the 4th of July
- 4th of July in Cody, Wyoming – The Cody Stampede Parade!
- An Exuberant 4th of July in Othello, Washington!
- An Old Time Country 4th of July – Custer, South Dakota
- Kanab, Utah, 4th of July – Stars & Stripes in the Red Rocks!
Other blog posts about small towns:
- An Idaho Panhandle RV Trip on US-95: Sandpoint, Moscow & McCall
- Buena Vista Colorado – What a Place for an RV Breakdown!
- Buffalo Wyoming – Cowboys, Cowgirls and Sheriff Walt Longmire!
- Chanute, KS – Tour of NuWa / Hitchhiker RV Factory
- Costalegre: La Manzanilla – Exotic animals & RVing Copper Canyon!
- Custer South Dakota Highlights on an RV Trip
- Eastern Wyoming Small Towns – An RV Trip through Wyoming’s Quiet Side!
- Finding Enchantment…in Encampment, Wyoming!
- Huatulco Farewell – Fabulous Memories of a great stay
- Joseph, Oregon – At Heaven’s Door!
- Kanab & Alton, UT – Whoa!!!
- Lake Michigan – Charming coastal towns
- Mackinac Island, Michigan – A Precious Walk Back in Time!
- Maysville, Kentucky – Come for the History, Stay for the People!
- McCall, Idaho – Summer Beach Fun on Pretty Payette Lake
- North Lake Michigan – Alluring Coastal Towns
- On the road to Baker City, Oregon
- Parowan UT – Vermillion Castle and County Fair
- Pátzcuaro – A “Magical City” with a colorful outdoor market
- Picturesque Medieval Charm an Hour from Paris – Moret sur Loing
- Pomeroy, Washington – An Impromptu Sunday Stroll!
- Rockport, Massachusetts – Quaint Charm on Boston’s North Shore
- Sedona, Arizona – Great Beer, Coffee, Red Rocks & Psychics!
- The Artsy Side of Sun Valley, ID
- Walker, Minnesota – A Hidden Jewel in the 10,000 Lakes
More from our travels in Colorado:
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO – Steep and Deep!
- Brilliant Fall Foliage + Snow in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
- Buena Vista Colorado – What a Place for an RV Breakdown!
- Burro Days! Burro Races, Llamas & Outhouses in Fairplay CO
- Colorado GOLD – A Fall Foliage Photography Workshop
- Colorado National Monument & Fruita CO – Red Rocks, Cycling & Wine!
- Colorado’s San Juan Skyway – An RV Trip in Dazzling Fall Color!
- Colorado’s Stunning Scenic Drives…by Porsche!
- Cowboy Poetry Gatherings in Durango, Colorado, and Alpine, Texas!
- Crested Butte – Wildflower Capital of Colorado!
- Lake Granby Colorado RV Trip – A Summer Beach Vacation!
- Lakes and Light in Wyoming and Colorado
- Mesa Verde National Park, CO – Life on the Edge with the Ancients
- Ouray – Finding the COLOR in Colorado on an RV Trip!
- Remote RV Camping: Antero Reservoir & Blue River Colorado
- Ridgway, CO – Peak fall foliage on the Dallas Divide – WOW!!
- Rocky Mountain High: Alpine Beauty in Colorado + Trout Lake!
- Rocky Mountain National Park & Trail Ridge Road: RV? Dog??
- Romance at Maroon Bells Colorado!
- RV Trip on Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway – Ouray to Silverton
- San Juan Mountains Colorado – And then it Snowed!
- Silver Thread Scenic Byway in Colorado – Fire in the Sky!
- Telluride Gondola Ride in Colorado – FREE and Dog Friendly!
- Where All News is Good News – At the Saguache Crescent in CO
Our most recent posts:
- News & Tidbits from the Roads Less Traveled 09/29/23
- Buena Vista Colorado – What a Place for an RV Breakdown! 09/15/23
- What’s not to love about RV life? Breakdowns & Repairs! 09/08/23
- Rocky Mountain National Park & Trail Ridge Road: RV? Dog?? 09/01/23
- Lake Granby Colorado RV Trip – A Summer Beach Vacation! 08/25/23