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Your guide to Cripple Creek
All About Cripple Creek
Located at the foot of Pikes Peak mountain, Cripple Creek is a former gold-mining camp that was once filled with prospectors hoping to strike it rich in the Colorado Hills. Just 30 minutes west of Colorado Springs, the city and its surrounding area received National Historic status for its heritage in 1961, and today it draws travelers looking to take a step back into that bygone era. Downtown still has an Old West feel to it, with late-19th-century brick and stone buildings housing steakhouses and Western apparel shops; you may even spot some of the friendly donkeys that have been roaming the streets since the mining days.
One way to see the sights is to hop a ride on the vintage railroad that circles Cripple Creek. The region is also home to countless trails and tracks for hikers and mountain bikers to enjoy, with something for every skill level. Just outside of Cripple Creek is the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, where you’ll see petrified redwood stumps that are up to 14 feet wide, as well as fossils of insects and plants that hark back to prehistoric Colorado.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Cripple Creek?
For outdoor enthusiasts, Cripple Creek is at its best in the summer, when temperatures are mild. Victor Museum also runs tours throughout the summer, where you can learn about the gold rush and see its sites. Cripple Creek is particularly stunning in the fall, when the aspen trees turn golden and the air is crisp. Winters here are snowy and windy, with temperatures that often dip below freezing. February’s Ice Festival takes advantage of the cold weather by running an ice-carving contest and serving up food, drinks, and live music, alongside an ice maze and an ice slide.
What are the top things to do in Cripple Creek?
Cripple Creek’s donkey population was once essential to the mining community, carrying miners and equipment back and forth along the mountain trails and through the mining tunnels. Today, the donkeys are beloved and protected by locals, and free to roam the town’s streets from mid-May to mid-October.
The 14,000-foot summit of Pikes Peak can be accessed by two hiking trails. The 13-mile Barr Trail is popular for its challenging ascent and beautiful views, while the 6.5-mile Crags Trail also offers excellent views but is generally less crowded. Either way, it’s a challenging hike to the top, but well worth it for the vistas at the summit and along the trail.
Gold Belt Tour
Along the National Scenic Byway, the Gold Belt Tour allows you the chance to experience the historic travel routes that connect Cripple Creek to the Victor Mining District, which was the site of the world’s largest gold rush. The scenery along these roads includes rocky canyons and dramatic mountain parklands. There are more gold mining towns to stop at along the way with restaurants, shops, and historic buildings.