One of the most interesting boomtowns to visit in the Rocky Mountains is Silverton. It is set remote in the San Juan Mountains of the greater Rockies. It was a Gold Rush boomtown in the second half of the 1800s but went into decline soon after, with the last mine finally closing in 1992. Today it is listed as a National Historic Landmark District. The most eye-catching building in town is the imposing Grand Imperial Hotel which dates from 1883.
One of the best places to enjoy a scenic road trip is through the San Juan Mountains (and along the Million Dollar Highway). Silverton is a stunning Old West boomtown to visit, but perhaps a more iconic Wild West town is Tombstone, Arizona (set in the Sorona Desert close to the Mexican border and the site of the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral).
The Grand Imperial Hotel - An Authentic 1880s Immersion
Silverton's Grand Imperial Hotel was originally called the "Thomson Block" and was built by Mr. W.S. Thomson. It was completed in just under ten months and became known as the largest single-standing structure south of Denver. It was regarded as the Crown Jewel of Silverston and was the height of luxury in the Southwest.
- Built: 1883
The Grand Hotel was used for more than just lodging; it was also used as office space for local officials, the local Post Office, the town bank, the Bureau of Mines, a General Stone, a doctor's office, and the Silverston Standard Newspaper - phew!
- Restored: To Provide An Authentic 1880's Experience
As the mine's fortunes fell, so did the town - and the hotel. The hotel was sold and renamed the Imperial Hotel before settling on its current name - the Grand Imperial Hotel. It was purchased by the Harper family in 2015 (who also own the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad). They set about restoring it with an eye to providing full immersion into an authentic 1882's experience.
The Grand Hotel & The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
One of the main attractions of the old boomtown is the Durango And Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. They still operate old steam engines that chug their way up and down the mountains just like they have been doing since 1882.
Most of the experiences they offer are day rides to and from Silverton and other destinations. But they also offer their train and overnight package at the Grand Imperial Hotel.
With this package, one can kick back and relax with the 1880s experience by combining train travel with the old hotel. It is meant as a "Step Back in Time" experience and starts at the 1881 Durango Depot, where one embarks on an authentic historic locomotive. Seating options include Presidential, First Class, Deluxe, and Standard-class.
- Pricing: From $556.36 For Two
- Rooms: Single King Or Queen Bed Room
- Ride: 3.5 Hours One Way
The ride goes through the San Juan Mountains - the journey is a 3.5-hour ride through the valley. The train experience ends just two blocks short of the Grand Imperial Hotel.
Planning A Stay At The Grand Imperial Hotel
The Grand Imperial Hotel has a range of accommodation options. Many of the rooms have a 42" flat-screen TV and a walk-in shower. Some of the rooms are:
- Second Floor Family Suite: King Bedroom & Bedroom With Two Double Beds
- Second Floor Premium King Room: Also Offers Views of The San Juan Mountains
- Second Floor Queen Room: One Queen Size Bed
- Third Floor Mini-Suite: A Double Bed & Twin Size Pull-Out Sofa In The Sitting Room
- Third Floor Double Room: Double Size Bed And Claw Foot Tub
The Grand Imperial Hotel comes with a grand emporium, depot annex, coffee shop, and restaurant & saloon.
- Address: 1219 Greene Street, Silverton, CO 81433
- Phone: 970-387-5527
- Prices: Range $150 to $320 or more (Plus Additional Charges)
- Pets: Not Permitted
Prices vary between around $150 and $320 per night. It should also be noted there are significant extra charges on the base room rate. Additional charges include not only sales tax but also a historic preservation fee, a lodging tax, and a Silverton lodging tax. The additional fees add an extra $67 to the $320 per night fee for the Family Suite and $33 per night to the $150 for the standard single room.
- Check-In: 3.00 pm to 10.00 pm
- Check Out: 11.00 am
Next time one plans a trip to the San Juan Mountains, put the Grand Imperial Hotel on one's bucket list!