Location: Central Colorado
On County Road 3, 6 miles east of Colorado Hwy 133, 28 miles south of Carbondale, 58 miles southwest of Aspen and 86 miles northeast of Gunnison, Co.
Marble (7,956-ft.) is an authentic, unpretentious hamlet nestled in the upper Crystal River Valley surrounded by the tall peaks of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass and Raggeds Wilderness Areas. The tiny town is a reminder of what Colorado use to be, a place of quiet natural beauty unspoiled by ski and condo developments.
Put away your cell phone before you get to town. It doesn’t work here. The only pay phone is located next to the fire station, as is the only mail box. You’ll not mind disconnecting from the outside world since you will be well occupied with your favorite outdoor activities; hiking, biking, fishing, four-wheeling and horseback riding – just to name a few.
Marble Hiking Trails
Distance: 4.2 miles (Round Trip)
This trail, our personal favorite, has waterfalls, wildflowers, a pristine lake and gigantic views of the Lead King Basin and backside of the Maroon Bells. Additionally, you can and should combine this trip with 4WD or ATV circumnavigation of the Lead King Basin road with stops in Crystal City and the Crystal Mill.
Distance: 7.4 miles (Round Trip)
This lightly used trail ascends beautiful Buckskin Basin to a stunning pass with wonderful views of Capitol Peak, Snowmass Mountain and Mount Daly.
Distance: 2.5 - 6.8 miles (Round Trip)
The Anthracite Pass trail features excellent views of Treasure Mountain and Marble Peak with Mount Daly in the distance. The trail is a nice 3.5-4.5 hour hike that can be hiked from late June to October (snow dependent).
Distance: 9.4 miles (Loop)
This great loop hike starts by ascending the pretty Raspberry Creek Valley to Marble Peak (11,314-ft.). The trail then descends to Anthracite Pass and returns via the Raspberry Creek/Anthracite Pass trail. From the peak enjoy panoramic views of Snowmass Mountain, Capital Peak, Treasure Mountain and beyond.
The town, founded in 1899, is famous for the Yule Marble Quarry located at an elevation of 9,500-ft. The quarry, first discovered in the late 1870’s, produces a beautiful, flawless white marble that was used to build the Lincoln Memorial in 1916 and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in 1931.
The quarry, and by extension, the town have seen goods days and bad. A marble fabrication mill, the largest of its kind at the time, was completely destroyed by an avalanche in 1912. After being rebuilt, a large portion of the mill was consumed by a large fire in 1925 resulting in its permanent closure. During World War II the quarry closed and its steel equipment was sold for scrap to support the war effort. With the closure Marble essentially became a ghost town.
Over the intervening years the quarry has gone through a number of owners that have opened and then closed the quarry a few times. RED Graniti, an Italian Company, now owns the quarry which is again producing marble. The quarry is closed to the public but visitors are allowed to explore the remains of the old mill, now the Marble Mill Site Park, located in town about 100 yards south of the fire station.
In the 1960’s people began moving back to the area, lured by the natural beauty of the peaceful valley filled with outdoor recreation opportunities. Some of the town’s historic buildings still stand and have been restored, such as the Marble School, Haxby House, St. Paul’s Church, The William Parry House, the Town Hall and the Marble City Bank building, now the home of the Marble Hub and Coffee Bar. Note the Marble Hub serves as the visitor center and offers public wi-fi access. Take a stroll around town to see the original structures.
The old mining road between Marble and Crystal City through Lead King Basin is now a popular and challenging jeep/ATV road. The 11-mile Lead King Basin loop is only recommended for experienced drivers. The Crystal Mill, a photogenic wood mill built in 1893, the ghost town of Crystal and the beautiful scenery are the main attractions along the route. I recommend allocating time for the beautiful hike to Geneva Lake if you drive the loop.
The Mill and the ghost town are located 6 miles east of Marble and are accessible in the summer via the very rocky one-lane road. You need a high clearance 4WD vehicle to reach the sites. Contact Crystal River Jeeps for a tour. Check on local conditions before setting out on your own. You can also walk to the sites along the road.
The Crystal River, which runs through the town of Marble, supports wild populations of brown, rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout along with mountain whitefish. Locals recommend fishing the stretch of the river above town. There is also public access to the river along CO Highway 133. Beaver Lake, located to the west of town, is stocked with trout and a favorite destination for families. Beautiful Geneva Lake is a beautiful backcountry lake for fishing, although it can be crowded with backpackers on the weekends in the summer.
Redstone, a former coal mining town along the banks of the Crystal River on CO Highway 133, is located eleven miles from Marble. The town has been preserved and restored and is now a delightful village of summer homes, antique shops, art galleries and handicraft boutiques. The main attraction is Redstone Castle, the 42 room estate of coal and steel baron John Cleveholm Osgood. Tours include the main rooms on the first level and a few of the bedrooms on the upper floors. There are some nice B&B’s, lodges and cabins in town along with three restaurant and a general store.
Food, Lodging and Services
There is limited lodging in Marble. See the Marble Chamber of Commerce site for the current list of options. Slo Groovin’ BBQ, at 101 W 1st Street, is the best and only place to eat, unless you are staying at a lodge offering dining services. Redstone, located 11 miles north from Marble along CO 133, offers a variety of accommodations and three restaurants. The Marble Grocery Store sells some basic items and is only open in the summer. There is also a small general store in Redstone. The nearest full-service grocery stores are in Carbondale, 28 miles north of CO Highway 133, and Paonia, 35 miles south on CO Highway 133.
The National Forest service operates the Bogan Flats Campground, located 1.5 miles up CO 3 (the road to Marble) along the Crystal River. Sites are reservable on recreation.gov. Mari Daes RV Park, at 215 W Park Street in Marble, offers camping and RV sites with a bath house, electric and water hookups and a dump station.
For those with a high-clearance 4WD, there are Forest Service designated car camping sites along the jeep road to Crystal City.