Ouray Has a Mine Tour: Learn About Colorado Mining Country!
Bachelor Syracuse Mine Tour in Ouray is a Great Thing to Do with Kids While Visiting Southwest Colorado
Just days ago, if someone had asked what a ‘Single Jack” was you may have thought the term had something to do with online dating. After spending a few hours at the Bachelor Syracuse Mine Tour, this and many other terms and phrases will have new meaning.
A short drive north of Ouray, off of County Road 14, hours of entertainment is to be had for the whole family. Mine tours run promptly every hour on the hour, but fear not if you arrive at 1:15; there are plenty of things to see and do while waiting for the next trip into the mine.
There is a working blacksmith shop, where the smith is forging all sorts of metal works most of which are functional tools. Standing behind the safety line, it is fascinating to watch as a red hot piece of metal is shaped into a horseshoe, hammerhead, or knife blade. All questions are good naturedly answered as the host hammers away.
Either before or after the mine tour, don’t miss out on panning for your own gold or silver! In the gift shop you can gear up, then head down to the water and learn the art of gold panning. You also get a jar to put in all the spoils of your efforts, so happy panning!
Don’t eat before you head up either! The Bachelors Café serves a phenomenal breakfast, and the brisket sandwich special at lunch is fantastic. It is a blast to watch the chef cook up our meal as he banters with guests and co workers, bringing smiles and belly chuckles as your mouth waters from the smell of your meal on his grill.
Now, no trip to the Mine would be complete without at least a visit to Fence Post and The Bachelor’s Stable. Whether you are a seasoned rider or have never been near a horse, the easy happy demeanor of Fence and his staff put you in the frame of mind of a Cowboy. Of course, they may not let you rope any calves, but a leisurely ride in the hills around the mine on one of their beautiful and well trained horses is an experience not to be missed!
OK, so it’s time for the mine tour! Before boarding the ore car which will take you deep into the mine, you have to gear up. This may be one of the funnest parts of the tour, as everyone gets into a hard hat and rain jacket. The young man guiding you to the hats and jackets is friendly and informative, making a few little jokes as everyone dons their new attire. He lets everyone know that there won’t be a lot of water dripping on you; the jackets are mainly for warmth as the temperature is quite a few degrees cooler inside of the mine. I think the hats are just cool.
Once everyone is geared up, it’s time to board the ore cars. Everyone straddles the benches of a car, and the journey begins. It is hard not to imagine what it must have been like even just a few years ago for real miners taking this same journey every day, but not stopping at the first alcove, travelling deeper into the mountain in the search of veins of silver and gold. In the cavern the tour guide stops, it is difficult to comprehend the strength and drive of the men who once filled this and so many other mines in search of wealth. Even more so when the guide turns out the lights to give one a better sense of the near absolute darkness the miners toiled in day and night.
Perhaps the impression that your hard hat was important for its cool factor alone was a bit hasty, as you can almost feel the weight of the rocks overhead recede upon emerging back into the outside world. After having returned all your miners gear, the gold and silver in the gift shop seems to have a little bit more meaning after having seen how difficult it is to get. Of course, there are also hard hats for the kids in a plethora of colors, which can’t possibly be left on the shelves.
Then it’s back in the car, and a return drive back down County Road 14. You may have seen the signs for Lake Lenore on the way up the hill, but now coming back down, it is impossible to miss the lake itself, and even harder to avoid a quick side trip to gaze at this beautiful little mountain lake.
Farther down the road, you can’t help but marvel at the splendor of the landscape before you, and perhaps feel a twinge of envy for the folks lucky enough to live up on this hill and enjoy this view every day. Of course, it’s fantastic to be able to go home and tell all of your friends about the amazing adventures you’ve had, and there is still a nice long soak at the Box Canyon Lodge to look forward to!
Here are other ways to learn about San Juan Mountain Mining history too!
About the author: Maria Ziemba works at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs and raises her daughter in Ouray. She loves greeting our guests and sharing stories and advice for visitors to Ouray and destinations beyond in Southwest Colorado.