The Bachelor Loop Road Near Creede, CO

South Fork, CO

About 20 miles north of our base in South Fork is the community of Creede. The little town, sitting at an elevation of 8,800′, has a population of 220 permanent residents. But during the summer that number grows due to summer residents and the many tourists who visit the area.

Like so many towns in the west, Creede was founded as a mining town. Creede was the last silver boom town in Colorado in the 19th century. It grew from a population of 600 in 1889 to more than 10,000 people in December 1891. The Creede mines operated continuously from 1890 until 1985, and were served by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.

Early in its existence Creede was a rough and tumble gambling town. While Creede was booming, the capital city of Denver was experiencing a reform movement against gambling clubs and saloons. Many owners of gambling houses in Denver relocated to Creede’s business district. One of these was Robert Ford, the man who killed outlaw Jesse James. On June 5, 1892 a fire destroyed most of Creede’s business district. Three days later, on June 8, Ed O’Kelley walked into Robert Ford’s makeshift tent-saloon and shot him dead.

While the gambling era brought some people to the town, the real money was in mining. Mines north of town produced large amounts of silver, gold, zinc, lead, and copper. Our main objective for our visit was to drive the Bachelor Loop Historic Tour, a 17 mile drive through the historic mining district in the steep hills above the town. It is a local recommendation that two wheel drive vehicles do the loop in a clockwise direction, while four wheel drive vehicles can go counterclockwise. That is because the road just north of town goes up steeply in an area called the Black Pitch. A clockwise direction has you coming down the pitch, rather than up. We did the counterclockwise route but didn’t find the road that difficult.

In the town photo above you can see a canyon in the background. That is the road leading up to the loop. As we drove out of the town to begin the loop we noticed a large opening in the rock face on our left. Turns out it is home to the town fire truck. Just next to it, also cut into the rock, is the town community center and the Underground Mine Museum. We’ll tell you more about this museum in our next post.

Creede Fire Department

Across from the fire department and community center we came upon two ponds surrounded by gravel.

We didn’t know what the ponds were used for until we saw the sign on a small building next to them.

We then noticed the lights surrounding the ponds and a couple of hockey sticks floating in the shallow water. We stopped (for a second time) at the visitor center in town after driving the loop and were told the two ponds are quite busy during the winter. They even have a Zamboni (ice surfacing machine) in a small garage next to the skate shack. Forgot your skates? The skate shack is like an unattended lending library. Just borrow a pair of skates and return them when you are done.

The start of the loop road

The first mine we came to was the Commodore Mine. The mine had buildings on five levels above the road and was called one of the greatest silver mines on earth, with production taking place between 1891 and 1976.

five levels of the Commodore Mine
Humphreys Mill | The Elements Unearthed
The mine in 1904

Across from the mine is the remains of the Commodore Ore House and Chutes. Here ore from the mine was loaded into wagons for a trip down to the beginning of the rail line.

Continuing up the road
Another old mine
The road levels off at the top of the canyon
The Aspens are beginning to change
Looking down at Chreede as we begin to descend

After finishing the Bachelor Loop we returned to the beginning of the canyon to visit the Underground Mine Museum. We’ll tell you about that in our next post.

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17 Responses to The Bachelor Loop Road Near Creede, CO

  1. Joe Taylor says:

    What a fun ride and great adventure! It’s amazing how those mining towns and the folks who lived there survived for even a few days, much less years! Love the photo that shows where the road levels out at the top of the canyon!

  2. Nancy says:

    Okay… this is right up our alley! I’m saving all your posts to an email to myself and sweet man. We would enjoy going here.
    Thank you for such fabulous information!

  3. Debbie L says:

    Amazing photography!!! We visited the Beckley Mine and Museum recently in West Virginia. Those miners were very rugged men. Our “guide” came from a long line of miners. He did his time so the presentation was so engaging. Looking forward to your next post. I need to write ours up….as it will also detail our decision about a class B. 😉

    • placestheygo says:

      Having a miner lead a tour would certainly make it come to life even more than our audio. Looking forward to hearing your class B thoughts.

      • Debbie L says:

        The miner was so talented, a bit of a comedian! He was 2nd or 3rd generation.
        I want to get the blog written but having a hard time! In essence, we’ve followed various forums. The issues are just too numerous to imagine. Getting problems fixed is also a nightmare. The investment would not be worth the reward. We’re heartbroken as it seemed like the answer to our wanderlust. We have a back up plan so trying to get it going. Stay tuned!

  4. Jeff Pierce says:

    Pond Hockey! Now that would be fun to watch!
    The canyon entrance looks like it would be too narrow for your jeep, creating a spectacular ride.

    • placestheygo says:

      Hearing the stories about the ponds from a local was great. They have a big three on three tournament every year on MLK weekend. Brings in the crowds. Bleachers, lights, and free rentals show just how serious they are.

  5. Sue says:

    Love the iconic Creede shot and the historic mine photo. the loop drive looks like it’s right up my alley and we’ll make sure to go the correct way when we do it! That area has been on my “list” for awhile now…..soon?

  6. jimandbarb says:

    Not much prettier than those changing aspens! Don’t you just love the history and lore of those old mining towns?

    • placestheygo says:

      This is our second fall visit to this general area of the state. The golden aspen don’t get old. We have visited so many old mining sites and each one seems new with its own stories of these rugged people.

  7. Diana says:

    This looks like a great little drive and town! We haven’t made it to this area of the state yet, so I am bookmarking this for when we do.

  8. Laurel says:

    What a spectacular setting for that little town! Your photo could be a postcard for the town. And that loop drive is gorgeous. The Skate Shack is so cool…I love the spirit of little towns!

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Laurel! Spirit is a perfect word for the town especially after we talked to the local woman at VC. You could tell how much she loved her town as she shared with us. I’m glad we went back to get the whole pond story. It is the center piece in the town in the winter.

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