Cripple Creek - Colorado

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Cripple Creek

The streets of Cripple Creek are literally paved with gold -- very low grade ore -- and it's no wonder. This mining region had the most prolific deposit in the world, with more than $600 million in gold taken out of the ground around Cripple Creek and Victor.

Both towns are on the Gold Belt Loop, a wonderful circle drive connecting this gold rush region with Cañon City to the south (see the Cañon City Page). Cripple Creek is also accessible by taking Highway 67, which connects the town with Colorado Springs.

The gold was discovered by "Crazy Bob" Womack in the 1880s, and by 1891, the last great gold rush in the Lower 48 states was on. In 1900, 25,000 people lived here. Like many discoverers, Womack dies penniless, but the atmosphere and traditions of that era live on today in this present-day casino town, its economy recently boosted by Colorado's gambling laws.

Today, the town is a far cry from the sleepy historic village it was just a few years ago. There are at least 25 casinos in Cripple Creek, thanks to the Colorado legislature which allowed historic mining areas to become gaming centers. The law transformed Cripple Creek into a nonstop casino town.

What to See & Do

In earlier years, Cripple Creek became a tourist destination through the fame of a wonderful historic hotel, the Imperial, which not only has a good dining room, but stages melodramas during the summer months. A narrow gauge railway takes visitors for a four-mile ride along historic track, past some of the most famous (and now defunct) mining operations.

Mining is still going on in nearby Victor, which saw the bulk of the mining activity. This is a town in decline, and it's sad to see the old hotel with missing windows and the general state of decay. While the town was named after Victor Adams, a town founder, the favorite son was Lowell Thomas, the late and influential radio news broadcaster.

The Florissant Fossil Beds, a national monument, are located northwest of Cripple Creek, on County Road 1. The fossil bed was created when volcanoes erupted, sending debris into the Florissant Basin, and creating a large lake. Shale was formed at the bottom of the lake, trapping an incredible range of plants and animals. Trails lead through the lake bottom, taking visitors to petrified trees, including redwoods which remain from the age when this area was much warmer than it is today.

Elevenmile Canyon, north of town, is not only a scenic but a fishing wonder. The Elevenmile Reservoir is stocked with kokanee, pike, and huge mackinaw trout. The area is a fine winter destination, with excellent cross-country skiing in the Crags area, on the western slopes of Pike's Peak, only a few miles from Cripple Creek.

Gold Camp Road is an alternate route from Creede to Colorado Springs. Built on an old railway bed, this backroad leads around Cheyenne Mountain, with incredible views all the way. The route is not suitable for RVs and cars with trailers.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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Lost Burro Campground, County Road 1, (719) 689-2345
This campground has RV and tent sites in the woods, 4 miles north of Cripple Creek.

Prospector's RV Park
202 East May Avenue, Box 1237, Cripple Creek, CO 80813
(719) 689-2006
Open year-round, this operation is only two blocks from downtown. Facilities include full hookups, showers, laundry (open to everyone), and a store. Hours are Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday/Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Cripple Creek Travel Park and Hospitality House
Box 957, Cripple Creek, CO 80813
(719) 689-2513 or 800-500-2513
This is not only an RV park and campground, but the former Teller County Hospital has been converted into lodgings, with 17 guest rooms ($). The campground has pull-through sites with full hookups, a tenting area, showers, laundry, and game area. The Hospitality Room has a pool table and TV, and a beauty shop is on-site. Season from mid-May to mid-October.

For details on nearby towns and attractions
Go to
Denver,Colorado Springs,
Leadville, Cañon City

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