Rocky Mountains: Phantom Canyon


After visiting Colorado Mountain Lavender, we headed down to Canyon City to find the turn for Phantom Canyon Road. This road starts north of Florence, CO and ends at Victor, a mining town. This is approximately 35 miles of unpaved road that takes a minimum of 2 hours one way. The area is beautiful with yellow-orange rock formations, short green scrub trees, and a stream bubbling through the canyon.

Most of Phantom Canyon Road drives through land managed by the Bureau of Land Management but does pass through some privately owned section. There are signs on the road that mark when moving from public to private land and back. You can camp in specific areas of Phantom Canyon and according to it is free to camp here. If you want to know more about, check out my backroads road trip post about where to stay. There are a couple of restrooms in the canyon but they are far into the drive and far apart. I also, don’t remember them having running water so bring plenty and hand sanitizer. I also suggest bring a snack as the drive in either direction is a long ways from anything – which makes this a fantastic escape.

Phantom Canyon, once upon a time, had a railroad running through it, the Florence – Cripple Creek Railroad. This railroad operated from 1894 to 1912, the tracks were eventually removed and a road now winds along the canyon where a train once rumbled as it carried gold from the mountains around Cripple Creek. Since this road was once a narrow gauge railroad the road is very narrow and people drive both directions. I suggest driving slower than you think you should do to the tight turns. Someone did come around a bend rather quickly coming the opposite direction from us and we probably would have been in an accident if we had been driving faster.

If you take the Phantom Canyon road be aware that it will be a long slow drive. There are tunnels and bridges and fantastic scenery that are meant to be enjoyed. Make sure to check out my video below. Have you ever been to Phantom Canyon, if yes what did you think? If not, would you go? Let me know in the comments. In the mean time, remember to leave no trace and safe travels!

A little bit of lavender and a bit of rocky canyon.

Thank you KW Photography for allowing me to use your wonderful photos!

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