Perched atop a rock outcrop above a waterfall on the Crystal River, Crystal Mill was constructed in 1893 and used a powerhouse water turbine to generate compressed air for silver miners nearby. When the Sheep Mountain Mine closed in 1917, the mill was shut down. It was then placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
One of the most photographed sites in Colorado, the mill is located 6 miles east of the small town of Marble and is accessed primarily by four-wheel drive vehicles, although hiking and mountain biking are also possible.
The journey begins at Beaver Lake, and the road quickly shifts to a steep uphill grade beyond the lake. Hikers will feel their heart racing within the first few steps. Mountain bikers will likely shift down to their smallest gear as they roll over rough terrain. Perhaps the smartest travelers hire a jeep guide out of Marble to venture down the steep, exposed, narrow road.
After about 1.5 miles, take a right at the intersection with Lost Trail Road and descend a half mile to Lizard Lake between Sheep Mountain and Hat Mountain. The road’s profile rises and falls as it follows the river another 4 miles back into the canyon where history and nature collide at the mill.