Plan to arrive in Colorado Springs in time to do a bit of exploring and take a trip up Pike’s Peak. On Day Three, after spending a full day exploring Colorado Springs, you’ll be heading for Florence, the Antiques Capital of Colorado. From Florence, it’s on to Victor on Phantom Canyon Road to begin exploring the story of the Cripple Creek and Victor Mining District. Next up, Cripple Creek, to explore more of the story of mining in the Old Wes, tour a present day mine and ride the narrow gauge railroad. On Day Five, it’s a short drive from Cripple Creek to Florissant on Teller One Road to visit one of the original ranches now a part of the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. From Florissant you’ll be traveling on High Park Road to Canon City, and from there back to Colorado Springs on Shelf Road. At this point, you will have traveled all pioneer roads built to connect the mining towns with the outside world that make up the Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway.

Highlighted Attractions

Mollie Kathleen Mine Tour

A tour of the Mollie Kathleen Mine is a complete contrast to the tour of the present day mine in Cripple Creek. You’ll descend 1,000 feet below ground to see 1890s hard rock gold mining and ride a skip through the four phases of mining it took to extract the gold. See how gold veins appear in their natural state and learn about the rugged process that was needed to extract the gold ore from underground.

Royal Gorge Railroad

It was the discovery of silver in Leadville that led to the race to build a railroad through the entire area. Beginning in Canon City in 1877, by the 1890s, the Royal Gorge region was used as a passenger route for transcontinental travel, with as many as four trains a day. It soon became today’s scenic leisure train following the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the soaring 1,000 foot granite cliffs of Colorado’s Royal Gorge.   

Pike's Peak

No one can travel to Colorado Springs without climbing Pike’s Peak!  After Lewis and Clark returned from their coast to coast expedition through the upper reaches of the Louisiana Territory in 1806, a dashing young Army officer Zebulon Pike was dispatched to explore the southern region of the Territory. He named the first massive mountain he encountered on the Front Range Grand Peak. Deep snow prevented him from reaching the summit, yet in 1810, his published account literally put the mountain on the map. There are two main ways to ascend to the Peak, the first on Pike’s Peak Highway, a spectacular toll road that winds up the mountain. The second is to have one of the tour companies whisk you up the mountain in a shuttle bus or Jeep. 

The Victor Gold Camp Ag and Mining Museum

The Victor Gold Camp Ag and Mining Museum looks much like the rugged structures you’ll find in a mining camp. More than a showcase for antique equipment, the museum hosts a fully operational steam-powered machine shop, a blacksmith shop and assay office (the place where gold was tested for purity), along with one of the best collections of antique tractors, tools, techniques and equipment from the gold rush in the country. A complex system of pulleys and belts power machines, and a blacksmith forge with hammer and anvil illustrate how work was done before electricity.  

Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum

The massive 1903 former El Paso County Courthouse was transformed into the Colorado Springs Pioneer Museum to hold a collection of fine arts, artifacts and archives. Exhibits such as “This Shall be the Land for Women,” Evidence: The Story of General Palmer,” and The Story of Us” reveal the fascinating history of this region.  

Garden of The Gods

In an area where spectacular scenery is a regular thing, the Garden of the Gods stands out among its rivals, in what is considered one of the most extensive pictures of the earth’s history. More than 300 years of geological history is revealed at the biological melting point between the grasslands of the Great Plains and the sandstone landscapes of the Southwest. 

Outlaws and Law Men Jail Museum

It’s become the hottest selfie spot west of the Mississippi – where you can find yourself in a cell where the “miscreants and troublemakers” hung out during Gold Rush days. The promise of easy fortunes brought everyone to town: local burglars, robbers, highwayman, the “Wild Bunch” gang and other vigilantes bent on disrupting life. The original cells are intact and police logs and other very authentic items are on hand. 

Hornbeck Homestead/Florissant Fossil Beds

One of the more interesting stories in the region you’ll discover is that of Adeline Hornbeck, a determined mother who made a home for her four children in the 1870;s. Adeline originally came from Massachusetts with her husband, Simon Harker, to farm and raise cattle. When Harker died in 1864, Adeline faced life as a widow with three young children, managing to make money from crops and livestock. By 1866, she was able to purchase of a homestead, buying 80 acres for $100. Two months later she married Elliott Hornbek and had a son. In 1875 when Hornbek disappeared under mysterious circumstances, once again Adeline became the sole support for her family, continuing to manage a successful ranch.

Cripple Creek Heritage Center

The Cripple Creek Heritage Center should be your first stop in Cripple Creek. Designed to be reminiscent of the town in its heyday, the center is equipped with 21st century technology combining hands-on, interactive, tactile, audio and video exhibits to reveal the story of Early Explorers, Cripple Creek’s First Residents, Faces from the Past, the Railroads and the Gold Camp Lifestyle. The history unfolds from Cripple Creek’s humble beginnings as a 15 person gold camp through today, surrounded by walls featuring stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

Cripple Creek and Victor Mine Tour

When volcanoes erupted and intruded through rocks a billion years ago, gold deposits were spread over seven square miles in the Cripple Creek area, where mines are still in operation. Put on a hard hat and tour this modern day real, working surface gold mine in operation since 1976. It’s a chance to see giant haul trucks, shovels and drill rigs in action in today’s world.

To experience all that History & Heritage Experience has to offer, download the complete itinerary! 

The detailed itinerary includes: