Crisman was founded in 1874 as a mining camp and named after the adjacent Crisman Mill, an ore-processing mill owned by prospector and early settler Obed Crisman. Crisman became a boomtown in 1881, when the Yellow Pine Mine produced a massive silver strike. Crisman became a stop on the Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railway. The Panic of 1893 and the subsequent crash of the silver market severely damaged Crisman's economy, although the nearby mines remained open for the duration. In 1894, Boulder Creek flooded, and much of the town was destroyed, including a section of railroad track. The obliterated structures were never rebuilt, and Crisman was significantly reduced in size. In 1901, the Logan Mine, a large gold operation near Crisman, uncovered a second strike, which prevented the town from disappearing altogether. By 1918, Crisman had become increasingly depopulated, and the post office closed that year. In 1919, another catastrophic flood swept through Fourmile Canyon, again destroying a section of railroad track and leaving little left of Crisman. The town has since been reduced to a hamlet.
Crisman is located in central Boulder County in the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, in the valley of Fourmile Creek. Four Mile Canyon Drive leads 7 miles (11 km) southeast to Boulder and 5 miles (8 km) northwest to Gold Hill.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Crisman CDP has an area of 1.5 square miles (3.8 km2), all land.