Rockhounding Colorado: Bullion King Mine, Silverton/Ouray
WARNING: This site is very high in altitude, be aware of the effects of altitude when digging for specimens. Altitude sickness can be very harmful, stay hydrated and do not overwork yourself. In addition always take proper precautions when digging and driving in these mountainous areas.
This site hosts one mineral specimen of interest, limonite after pyrite in cubic form. That is what we found, and anticipate you finding as well. Although it may seem cut and dry for variety, the site is definitely worth the stop! The beautiful cubes of limonite are bright and near perfect! Additionally they are quite large and can form in intriguing clusters, the specimens we found neared a centimeter across! There were several other larger cubes that we simply could not dislodge from the hard host rock. Overall you are bound to find some nice specimens of limonite after pyrite when visiting this site.
The area is rich with cubes of limonite, their presence seemingly infinite. This being said, they are very easily found but very difficult to apprehend. This is because the grey host rock is very hard and very difficult to break. This means you a.) need significant man power to dislodge sizable pieces of the host rock with cubes, b.) you settle for the smaller pieces already dislodged or c.) you get lucky and find a large chunk that is easily dislodged (we all hope for this last one to be true). You are likely going to encounter either a or b. Given this we recommend picks, hammers, and chisels to try dislodging the cubes. As always when using these tools please wear the proper attire (goggles, long sleeves, pants, boots, etc) and Cholla Lapidary/Rockhounding Reviews is NOT responsible for your possible injury. Overall even with difficulties apprehending the cube we were very satisfied with our findings at the mine.
The road to the Bullion King could is not for the faint hearted. The mountains in this area are incredibly steep, and the mine is near the top of the mountain range. The road to access the mine scales the mountainside with many hairpins and steep edges. Given this, if you are afraid of heights or do not have a smaller 4x4 vehicle that you are very confident in, we do not suggest accessing the site. The several switchbacks on the ascent do make it difficult for larger vehicles to climb. All that being said, there are much worse roads in the area and the rocks after the ascent are worth the trip!
The towns of Silverton and Ouray are a rockhound's paradise. We will have more reviews in the near future discussing these locations. Both offer many amenities, as well as the surrounding areas being perfect for rockhounding, hiking, camping, and site seeing. While in Silverton we found the tour of the gold mill to the east of town phenomenal! This was highly educational and gave an in-depth view on the refinement process for ore processing! The other mining related attraction is the Old Hundred Mine tour, a superb trip underground in an ore cart. On this you are able to gain a view into the life of a old time miner during Silverton's heyday and apprehend a better understanding of the local mining history. In addition Silverton is home to the Silverton-Durango railroad, a fascinating train ride through the canyon to the south of Silverton!
We mark two locations on the map, the mine and where the outcroppings of cubes start along the road. While rockhounding we found the outcroppings to be more bountiful than the mine itself so we recommend you search the road cuts and outcroppings for cubes as well as the mine.