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Alma was born out of the fires of a smelter. Local mines dug up high quality ore, but the best silver processing plants were in England. By building mills and smelters in Park County, mining investors could make a fortune just by saving the cost of trans-Atlantic shipping. Alma grew up around a smelter and at 10,578’, become the nation’s highest incorporated town.
The Buckskin Gulch road leads past the historic cemetery and multiple mining sites. An historic guide booklet is available for the five mile drive up to Kite Lake. The ghost town, Buckskin Joe, has a legendary origin: a prospector shot at a deer and struck gold instead.
The Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area is about six miles from town. Some of the trees on the wind-swept ridge are at least a thousand years old.
A second road to the west leads to Mosquito Pass. The 22-mile high-clearance jeep trail crosses a 13,185-foot saddle and drops into Leadville.
The turbulent local geology that produced gold and silver also created crystals. The Sweet Home Mine produces the deep red rhodochrosite crystals. One of the world’s largest samples ever found came from Alma and is now on display in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.