After enjoying the drive through Clear Creek Canyon and exploring Golden, on Day Two, you’ll be traveling to the Colorado gold rush town of Idaho Springs. As the place where gold was first discovered in Colorado, attractions in town provide a unique view of this very important industry. After exploring a bit, it’s time to head up the mountain to the summit of Mount Evans, and back down again.  A stop at Echo Lake along the way is in order.

Highlighted Attractions

Argo Mill and Mine Tunnel

The Argo Mill and Mine Tunnel introduce you to a completely different side of mining.  Construction of the Argo Tunnel to provide water drainage, ventilation and economical transportation of gold ore from the many mines which intersected it along the way, began in 1893, but would take 17 years to complete to Central City 4.5 miles away. The Argo Mill, constructed to process the gold ore from the mines along the tunnel, ultimately became the largest gold ore mill in the world. The mill processed over 100 million dollars of gold ore, which in today’s dollars would be 3 Trillion!

Phoenix Gold Mine Tour

A tour of the Phoenix Gold Mine gives you a chance to see how gold mining is done underground, in a mine run by 4th generation Colorado gold miners.  The Phoenix, which has produced over 100,000 troy ounces of gold over the years, is filled with wide underground tunnels, with gold still naturally occurring in the rock. Knowledgeable guides illustrate how the mining and milling process works, plus teach you how to pan gold in the gently flowing mountain creek near the mine. Many visitors have turned up gleaming gems.

Clear Creek Canyon

You can make the drive through Clear Creek Canyon a whole day experience if you choose. In one of the narrowest, steepest and most dramatic canyons in Colorado you might see rafters, kayakers, fishermen, and even panning for gold. If hiking is in order, stop at the Mayhem Gulch Trailhead, 12 miles west of Golden, and hike on the Peaks to Plains Trail. At the junction with Hwy. 119, you have the option to go north to Black Hawk, the largest gambling center in Colorado, and on to Central City, once called the “richest spot on earth.” With 30,000 residents Central City was the largest gold rush boom town in Colorado in the 1870s. Above the town with beautiful brick and stone Victorian buildings, you’ll find historic graveyards, old mines and ghost towns. Southwest of Central City, look for signs for the Virginia Canyon Road, known to locals as the “Oh My God Road.” Legend has it that it got its name from stagecoach passengers looking down at the sheer drop offs and moan, “Oh My God!” Go slow, pause on the narrow turns, and follow the signs for Idaho Springs, another old gold mining town. From there, you can take I-70 to return to Golden or go back through Clear Creek Canyon, viewing the dramatic rock formations from a different direction.

Golden History Walking Tour

As the territorial capital of Colorado and a hub of activity in the late 1800s, Golden has a remarkable historic district and eight historic neighborhoods.  The self-guided Golden History Walking Tour (pdf included with the detailed itinerary), guides you through these fascinating locations, ranging from cobblestone streets and territorial capital buildings to wild west saloons and high style residential areas.  If you would rather have a guide, you can sign up for the Wild West Walking Tour.

To experience all that the Climb the Mountain tour has to offer, click below to purchase the complete itinerary! By purchasing this tour itinerary, you'll receive a professionally crafted trip route allowing you to fully experience the incredible story of the byway! Included in your trip planner is a detailed map of the area attractions in geographic order, a suggested day-by-day route plan, as well as traveler-tested recommendations for dining, shopping, and accommodations for each segment of this epic journey. Contact the National Travel Center with any additional questions.

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