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
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.
Lost Burro Campground, County Road 1, (719)
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
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
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.