Gold was first discovered in Idaho Springs, Colorado in 1859 where you can still feel the mining history now more than ever. Founded by prospectors during the early days of the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, the town was at the center of the region's mining district throughout the late nineteenth century. It is considered the perfect pit stop off the I-70 by locals as the town is easy to spot from the freeway by the Charlie Taylor Waterwheel. This water wheel was built by miner Charlie Taylor in 1893 to power a stamp mill. It was moved to its present location in 1948 and restored in 1988. A trip to Idaho Springs is like a trip into the past as many buildings and landmarks have been beautifully preserved.
Learn all about the history of gold mining at the Heritage Museum and Visitor Center and with one of several mine tours. At the Argo Gold Mine and Mill, you can see what a working mill looked like and even try your hand at gold panning. You can also do a little gold panning at the Phoenix Gold Mine, a working mine, where you can also learn about modern and historical mining techniques. Be sure to enjoy the hot mineral waters of the springs for which the town is named by visiting the geothermal springs and caves. Local legend is that a Native American chief and his tribe journeyed to the area each year from Idaho to bathe in the magic healing waters.
Adjacent to Idaho Springs and just 60 miles west of Denver is the highest paved road in North America, Mount Evans. The road to the peak is a 14 mile ascent and rises to 14,200 feet above sea level. Mount Evans is one of 54 peaks in Colorado that reaches 14,000 feet above and is therefore one of the famous "fourteeners." Be sure to keep a lookout for mountain goats that graze along the highway. Because of snow, the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is usually open to cars only from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There is a National Forest information center here with maps and information on hiking trails and road conditions. If you are traveling during the winter, continue up the canyon to the Loveland Ski Area. Loveland boasts 1,800 acres of remarkable terrain, free snowcat skiing along the Continental Divide, an innovative lesson program, and more snow than any resort nearby.
Stay at the Indian Springs Resort to truly experience the magical springs. The resort has been world famous for over 100 years and features unique, one-of-a-kind men's and women's geothermal cave baths, indoor private baths, and outdoor private Jacuzzi baths. A perfect getaway for adults and children of all ages, spend the night or just come for the day. All of the accommodations in the area are affordable whether you are looking for a romantic bed and breakfast or wanting to get closer to nature in a rugged lodge.
Idaho Springs is easily accessible from Denver by I-70. Drive, take the bus, or even an Uber for about $50. The journey is relatively short at about 35 minutes. The High Country Shuttle offers service to and from Denver International Airport, serving the Colorado mountain communities of Georgetown, Empire, Downeyville, Idaho Springs and the Floyd Hill area. Once you get to town, the area spans just a little over 2 miles so you can even put on your walking shoes instead of worrying about a car!
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