Town Profiles: Tincup

Visit Tincup: In this series of town profiles, we’ll highlight the history and current stories of several smaller towns around the valley. Some still exist with year-round residents, while others only existed for a few brief years during the mining boom of the late 1800s.

Just up the road from the Taylor Park Trading Post is the little town of Tincup, Colorado. Originally incorporated under the name Virginia City, the residents reincorporated the town as Tincup in 1882 after confusion with Virginia City, Nevada, and Virginia City, Montana, popping up during the mining boom. Placer gold was first found in 1859, and in 1879 the first big strike occurred leading to the formation of the town as it’s known today.

tincup town hall and church

Today, Tincup only boasts a handful of year-round residents with snowmobiles being the only means of access during the winter months. In the early 1800s, the town had over 1,400 residents who scoured the hills above Taylor Park looking for gold and silver.

cabin in tincup colorado

Tincup’s past is tainted with old Wild West violence and tragedy. In 1882 and 1883, both the marshal–and the marshal who replaced him–were gunned down while enforcing the law. By 1918, the town had so few people that the post office closed and the last town elections were held.

rustic cabin in tincup colorado

Tincup today isn’t too different from the Tincup of 1918. Almost all the cabins and structures in town are original, and there’s very little in terms of commercial business. Most of the visitors to Tincup come for the world-class motorized recreation of Taylor Park. ATVs, side-by-sides and dirt bikes are frequently found parked along the streets of Tincup.

Outside of a tour of town, several fantastic recreation opportunities exist. Driving the passes between St. Elmo, Pitkin and Union Park are popular endeavors. Hiking, biking and riding dirt bikes on the Timberline Trail are also excellent options. Mirror Lake, located on the Tincup Pass Road, is a great place to spend the afternoon picnicking and fishing. If you’re bringing along a history buff, the town cemetery is a good place to start. Mining tours up the Hillerton Road or in Union Park are also great ways to enjoy your time in Tincup.

mileage from tincup to other locations in taylor park

Camping in Taylor Park is probably the most popular activity of all, but in 2017 the Forest Service placed a ban on camping in some of the areas directly around Tincup to cut down on the traffic in town. This camping ban is prominently marked and well signed. You can also view more information on it here.

–Town profile by Daniel Kreykes

Author: Bryan Boyle

7 Responses to Town Profiles: Tincup

  1. So sad to hear that the main attraction is “world-class motorization of Taylor Park.” I first started visiting Taylor Park and the TinCup/Pitkin area in 1963. What a beautiful site it was, for site-seeing, enjoying the natural features, reflecting on the history of the area, and the occasional day of fishing. If what you say about it now is true, I doubt if I will ever return…

  2. Love Tin Cup. When I am there Church Sunday 10:30 come early sometimes it’s standing room only. Then down the street to Frenchy’s Cafe on the pond for the best Hamburgers, sandwiches and Tin Cup pie you could ever have. You have great views of the mountains.

    • Hi Chuck, there are limited options for lodging directly in Tin Cup. You can try searching a site like, but your best bet is to stay in Pitkin or one of the Taylor Park cabins owned by the Trading Post or Holts Guest Ranch.

  3. I agree with Carol. We look for places off the grid where nature (real nature) abounds. In 2004 we visited central Colorado for that reason and did several drives, hikes etc where we never saw another soul. We also enjoyed the old ranches farms and “towns” that were mainly deserted now. We loved St Elmo, Pitkin, Tin Cup but mainly loved the wilderness where you could imagine what things were like with the first settlers. Folks thought us crazy when we told of Cumberland Gap on a one lane dirt road miles and miles from the next person. We had a picnic at the top for an hour and never saw or heard another person. Sounds like now it is not much different than RMNP, Salida, leadville and other crowded areas. That’s too bad.

    • You can get to Tin Cup from Taylor Park pretty easily. Cumberland Pass would be a little more hit or miss in a RAV 4.

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