Idaho Springs, Colorado

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Written by Cassidy Barnes posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

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Idaho Springs was the first place in Colorado where gold was found. The momentous occasion happened back in 1859, changing an untold number of lives, as well as small Colorado towns.

Downtown Idaho Springs, with lots of unique shops. (Colorado Tourism Office)

Idaho Springs was one of these towns, but remains a largely workingman’s town, with affordable options for those visiting or living in the area. Idaho Springs area lodging ranges from bed and breakfasts and hotels to mountain chateaus.

Idaho Springs attractions to this day revolve around the mines and all the history surrounding them.

George A. Jackson, a gold miner from California, was drawn to Idaho Springs by the steaming hot springs in the area. When he struck gold, he tried to keep it a secret for as long as possible, but after he paid a supplier in gold dust his secret was out.

Idaho Springs functioned as a mining town in its early days, and to this day has a couple of working mines. It is the perfect place to go to get a sense of what it was really like during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.

Several mine tours are available to places such as Argo Gold Mill and the Phoenix Mine, which is still running. See what the old and new techniques are in the gold mining industry and even pan for gold!

A walk around Idaho Springs’ eastern end will take you past many preserved buildings still in use- albeit for different things now than originally. The town’s western end has a strip of tourist-related businesses.

Mount Evans lies west of Denver, next to Idaho Springs. Take the 14-mile drive to the peak to experience the highest paved road in North America at over 14,200 feet above sea level. Just remember you’re in high alpine country; watch out for the grazing goats.

Check out Idaho Springs’ restaurants, which are generally affordable and even include a nice little brewpub and the locally lauded Beau Jo’s pizza place. Tommyknockers is one of Colorado’s many microbreweries and is located in Idaho Springs.

Hot springs are also in the area, as the town’s name suggests. Stay at the lodge next to the springs, or take a day trip to the geothermal waters and caves for a truly relaxing experience.

Idaho Springs is located just 30 miles west of Denver, just upstream (and up mountain) from Golden, Colorado. Farther up the canyon is the popular Loveland Ski Resort. Also in the region, you’ll find Echo Mountain Park and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

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