Cripple Creek is an old gold mining town located on the southwest slope of Pikes Peak. Gambling was legalized in Cripple Creek in 1991 and the complexion of the town changed dramatically. Although the old store fronts remain on the main street, many of the building’s insides now house casinos.
Remnants of the Old West do remain on the outskirts and in the Molly Kathleen gold mine. Start the day with a tour of the Molly Kathleen hard-rock
gold mine (mid-April – mid-September). The tour begins with a descent down a
1,000 foot vertical shaft. You’ll travel through the mine on the old rails and
learn how gold was extracted a hundred years ago and techniques changed over
the century. You’ll see the old mining equipment including the hand held drill
bits used to create holes for placing dynamite.
Stop by the Heritage Center to learn how hard life was like for miners and their families living here when gold was flowing out of the ground. Then, visit the Jail Museum, where the roughest of the locals were detained. The jail was used for approximately 90 years
and now contains interesting historic exhibits. Take the docent tour, check out
the prisoner markings on the cell walls and definitely dress in old jail garb
for a photo opportunity.
Victor and Old Mining Camps
The town is surrounded by old mining camps and is just a few miles from another former mining town, Victor, which is also popular with tourists who want to see a bit of the authentic, Wild West. As you drive to Victor you’ll pass relics of old mining operations. Get a map for a walking tour at the
Victor Lowell Thomas Museum and view the old restored buildings in Victor. The museum
(open Memorial Day to Labor Day) has some excellent exhibits describing the
early mining days. You can also try your hand at panning for gold outside of
You’ll get a sense of the past taking a ride on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train travels approximately four miles past old
mining camps and ghost towns. The train is pulled by an old steam locomotive,
which in itself is something to see. The cars are open and the trip is
narrated. The train stops along the way for some great photo opportunities and
at the old Anaconda mining town before heading back to Cripple Creek.
Tour an Active Mine
Creek Victor Gold Mine is an open pit mine that is still operating outside of
Victor. It is possible to arrange a two hour tour of the mine (Memorial
Day-Labor Day). These tours have limited
space and book up early.