49 votes

Crystal Mill

Cty. Rd. 3, 7 Mi. Se Of Marble, Carbondale, Colorado 81623 USA

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“an absolutely gorgeous abandoned wonder”

The Crystal Mill, or the Old Mill is an 1892 wooden powerhouse located on an outcrop above the Crystal River in Crystal, Colorado, United States. Although called a mill, it is more correctly denoted as a compressor station, which used a water turbine to drive an air compressor. The compressed air was then used to power other machinery or tools. Today it stands as a Colorado icon. While it is often reputed to be the most photographed site in the state, this is logistically impossible, as compared to easily accessible and heavily visited Maroon Lake, near Aspen. The mill was constructed in 1893 by George C. Eaton and B.S. Phillips, promoters of the Sheep Mountain Tunnel and Mining Company. It was built as a power plant for the Sheep Mountain Tunnel. Originally it had a horizontal waterwheel which generated compressed air for miners in the nearby silver mines. It fell into disuse in 1917 when the Sheep Mountain Mine closed. The mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 5, 1985. The Crystal Mill is located 6 miles east of Marble in Gunnison County, just before the ghost town of Crystal. It is reachable only in the summer and fall months by a rough, one-lane, 4-wheel-drive road. If your vehicle does not have enough ground clearance, the mill can be reached on horseback, foot, mountain bike, or a guided jeep tour. The route is very rocky and visitors should be aware that on a busy summer or fall day, walkers and riders will encounter many vehicles. Jeep tours take between three and five hours roundtrip on average to travel between Marble and the Crystal Mill. Many visitors stop along the way for pictures of the scenery that includes mountains, the Crystal River, wildlife and meadows full of wildflowers. To get to the Crystal Mill, go through Marble just past Beaver Lake where the Lead King Loop trail to the mill begins. The trail forks about a mile into the journey. Visitors who go right get to the Crystal Mill in about one-and-a-half hours. Visitors who go left on the trail see more scenery, but the trip is about double the amount of time and distance. It's that same trail used by prospectors in the late 1800's. Many visitors to the Crystal Mill also enjoy visiting the adjacent ghost town of Crystal, which at its peak had an estimated population of 400 people. Nowadays, there are only a few structures left, with residents only present during the summer travel season. This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
June 14, 2016
Rated 5.0

The mill is indeed on private property, but the road to it is public and partially surrounded by private land. It is very clearly marked which land is private. View of the mill is publicly accessible. There are ropes and a sign asking to give a donation — clearly they welcome (or at very least tolerate) respectful visitors. The direct hike from Beaver Lake is about 10 miles round trip. The one-land road can also be (very slowly) driven with a high clearance 4x4.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
December 05, 2013

Crystal River Jeep Tours, operating out of Marble will get you there and back. http://www.smithfamilycolorado.com/CRJT

1 person found this review helpful

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Crystal Mill

Cty. Rd. 3, 7 Mi. Se Of Marble
Carbondale, Colorado
81623 USA

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  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
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