This mountain town is more than just a pit stop when you're stuck in I-70 traffic

It's a pretty big stop for folks heading to some of Colorado's biggest ski slopes.

SILVERTHORNE, COLO. - Located in the heart of Summit County, Silverthorne is popular stop for skiers and snowboarders in the winter, fisherman in the spring and summer, and shoppers all year long.

It’s also home to about 4,000 people who are lucky enough to live in this convenient Colorado mountain town.

The beginnings of Silverthone

In 1881 a prominent hotel owner, judge, and businessman from Breckenridge purchased 160 acres of land between the Blue River and what is now Hwy 9. That land would eventually become the town of Silverthorne.

Judge Marshall Silverthorn has dreams of large profits from gold mining. Shortly after acquiring the land, he applied for a mining patent.

But, as was the case with many of these areas, not much gold was found.

Silverthorn died in 1887 and left the plot of land to his daughters.

For just over 50 years, the land was bought and resold by various mining companies without ever really taking off. Then, in 1961 work began on the Dillon Dam.

The project, commissioned by Denver Water, brought hundreds of construction workers to the area.

Silverthorne (which had an “e” added to its name because it was fashionable) became a camp for the workers. From that point on, the town grew.

Silverthorne was officially incorporated on September 5, 1967. At that time the 400-acre town had a population just under 400.

For the next several years it functioned primarily as a convenient stop for travelers on I-70 to stop for gas and maybe a snack or meal. And then, the Silverthorne Outlet Stores were built.

A retail hub

Although they had already been open, the Outlets at Silverthorne went through a major overhaul in 2005 and have been the region's major shopping district ever since.

It gave people a reason to come to the town itself for more than just a stop on the way to the mountains.

Today, the Outlets are home 47 stores including popular brands like Bath & Body Works, Zumies, Columbia Sportswear and Le Creuset. They are housed in three villages connected by the beautiful Blue River or a free shuttle.

Silverthorne's food choices run the gamut, too. Mountain Lyon Café (381 Blue River Pkwy) is a hearty breakfast and lunch hangout worth a stop. If it's too crowded, Sunshine Café (250 Summit Pl.) is another great option. 

Other places to grab a bite include Italian-food spot Sauce on the Blue (358 Blue River Pkwy) and Carniceria Santa Cruz (1161 Blue River Pkwy), which serves Mexican food.

For beer-lovers, The Baker's Brewery (531 Silverthorne Lane) serves casual American fare, plus craft beers like the Cotton Mouth Killer (IPA), the Buzzbird Belgian Wheat and the Barking Dog Brown.

The Blue River

Winding its way all the way through town, the Blue River is one of the other primary attractions in Silverthorne.

Part of the river is designated ‘Gold Medal’ water.

This title is given out sparingly by the Colorado Wildlife Commission and represents the best spots to catch large trout. To qualify, the water must have 60 pounds of fish per acre and at least 12 of them must be 14 inches or larger. Of the 9,000 miles of streams in Colorado only 329 are considered ‘Gold Medal’ quality.

This makes it a popular spot for anglers hoping to reel in a massive fish. And since some of the best fishing spots are in the heart of town, it’s also a fun place to watch fly fisherman cast while sipping a cup of coffee in the shade.

The 3.5-mile Blue River trail also follows the meandering waters through town.

It’s a relatively flat, shaded and paved path that’s very popular with walkers, joggers, dog-walkers and bikers. Four bridges cross the river, providing gorgeous views into and along the water below.

Those taking a walk or bike ride should also keep an eye out for Osprey, a common site along the river.

Living in and visiting Silverthorne

I-70 is notoriously jam-packed, especially on the weekends making Silverthorne a popular stop along the route. Several businesses in the town are also among those encouraging drivers to get out of their cars during peak traffic times. For example, the Silverthorne Recreation Center offers a $2 off admission coupon (available here) to travelers who want to soak in their hot tubs or let the kids play on their water slides for an hour or two instead of sitting in traffic for about the same amount of time.

Silverthorne also has several hotels and property rentals available to I-70 travelers. In December 2015, the 88-room Hampton Inn & Suites opened bringing the Silverthorne-Dillon market its first new, nationally-branded hotel in more than 14 years.

Each Saturday through the summer, Silverthorne hosts a free concert series at Rainbow Park. Called the Sunset at the Summit, the concerts begin at 7 p.m. each night and feature a variety of local bands. This week is the second in the series and they will continue to run through August 12.

The town also hosts a small weekly farmer’s market each Tuesday as well as a variety of other shows throughout the year at the Silverthorne Pavilion and Performing Arts Center.

For people looking to make Silverthorne a home, the median home price is about the same as Denver, standing at $394,500, according to real estate website Trulia.com. Inventory problems there, like much of the state, are still an issue, however.

More homes are on the way, though. Developer The Everist Cos. is busy building 240 homes on 416 acres of land in Silverthorne that has belonged to the Everist family for two decades in a housing development called Summit Sky Ranch. Homes there start at $600,000 and range in size from 1,550 square feet to 4,000 square feet, with 35 lots reserved for custom homes. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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