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In a nutshell
Overall, you feel welcome here and there are things to do
Just above tree line, you'll be able to walk the tundra and into the sub-alpine forest of Bristlecones. These trees have been known to reach 3000 years of age.
Written Jul 5, 2012
Address: Mt Evans Road
There is an entrance to the museum and the mine right off the Miner Street. It is located about half way down the main street from exit off US 70. You get a tour of the tunnel where they first mined and expanded, as well as the museum, and can pan for gold/gems, if you find them. The mill out front was once the largest in the world and it is well preserved for the tourism.
Updated Oct 8, 2009
The adventure of coming to the town is to stay in an old camp type facility, cabins, and shop in the old buildings that are form late 1800's to early 1900's. The other old reason for stopping was the mineral springs founds here as well as the gold and gemstones.
Updated Oct 8, 2009
Mount Evans (Clear Creek) is known as the Highest paved road in North America, if that matters at all to you. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway climbs more than 7,000 feet in just 28 miles, reaching an altitude of 14,264 feet.
The journey to the summit is half the fun. Well, it is if you like winding, twisting roads and hairpin curves. Even if you don't, the views of the surrounding mountains are spectacular and they get better and better as you ascend. The drive itself takes a considerable amount of time, about a half hour or so. Its nearly impossible to speed because you hit a hairpin turn after every few feet. The turns are so sharp that its impossible to see oncoming traffic. Fortunately., everyone left their big city driving habits behind and this wasn't a problem on the day that I drove up.
You'll also see mountain goats along the way. They may look cute but they are wild animals and can be tempermental. I rolled down the window and tried to photograph one and it responded by attempting to charge at my car. There's no good place for a confrontation with an animal, but 10,000 plus feet above ground on a very narrow road is an especially bad one.
At the summit you'll enjoy the big picture - the entire Front Range sprawls at your feet . Unfortunately for me, I developed a bit of altitude sickness on the drive up. A short walk in the at the top was about all I could handle since the nausea and dizziness were getting worse. I don't think I even made the short walk to the top of the summit. I actually can't remember, but I'm pretty sure that I didn't.
I did take the photo of the Crest House observation deck, which, at 14,264 feet., is the official summit of Mount Evans. So close and yet so far.
Updated May 20, 2005
Address: At Idaho Springs exit on I-70 take Hwy 103 South
Mountain goats share the byway road with motorists and are spotted at various points en route to the summit. They are not always friendly. These guys let me take their picture, but when I stopped to get a shot of a lone mountain goat, he almost charged my car. These kind of incidents are almost never covered by rental car insurance, even if you pay extra for the supplemental damage portion. I almost became an example of what happens to tourists when they do stupid things around wild animals. Be careful!!
Updated Jul 11, 2006
This is especially dangerous heading up the Mt Evans byway. Because you're driving, the elevation gain is quicker, which makes one more likely to suffer from altitude sickness. If you feel dizzy, nauseous and/or have a headache and these symptoms do not go away quickly, start driving back down. This is a potentially serious condition.
Written Jul 7, 2003
Favorite thing: The Colorado School of Mines operates an experimental mine/underground classroom [Edgar Mine] at Idaho Springs (turn right up 8th Ave. while heading west on Colorado Blvd.)..guided tours are available: midMay-midAug (303)567-2911. The Argo Gold Mine, Mill and Museum (off I-70 at 2350 Riverside Dr. tours: (303}567-2421. Another local site worth seeing is the monument to George A. Jackson, who made the first discovery of gold in Colorado on 7 January 1859 at the site of the monument on Chicago Creek where it flows into Clear Creek (located about one quarter mile southwest of I-70 on Chicago Creek Road) [SR 103]. This road will take you to Echo Lake where you can take SR5 to the top of Mount Evans (14,260 ft). In Idaho Springs are located the Bridal Veil Falls (overflow from the town water reservoir) with a historic waterwheel that used to operate mining stamp mill. Also 'Locomotive 60' a relic of the early mining days, along with its coal tender and a passenger coach stand on a section of the original narrow-guage track in the downtown business district (the train made its first run in 1886). The Indian Springs Resort, formerly Radium Hot Springs is on the site of a natural hot springs that the Ute and Arapahoe Indians considered a place of gods and spirits and was presumably the dividing line between their nations. Both tribes used the hot springs and considered this site neutral ground. It was more of a geyser until 1894 when it sank away and several small springs bubbled up in its place. There have been several establishments at the site since it was first used by the miners and the Utes (a rather exotic facility for an early mining camp!) It was reported that Augusta Tabor, H.A.W. Tabor's first wife, before Leadville and Baby Doe, was the first white woman to use the springs. Mrs. Tabor, according to her own diary, was the first white woman to arrive at 'Jackson's Diggings' which was called briefly Sacramento in 1859 when she arrived (later it became Idaho Springs). Augusta opened up a bakery out of the back of the wagon they brought to Sacramento while H.A.W. worked the sandbars of Clear Creek for gold. In 1863, a Dr. E.M. Cummings opened a public bath house at the site (log and wood frame); he sold it to Harrison Montague who replaced it with a stone bath house 'Ocean Bath House' and later advertised it as the 'Saratoga of the Rocky Mountains'. In 1883 the Natatorium was built with baths inside and out and an indoor swimming pool. In 1902, 'Big Five' further developed the site driving tunnels into the mountain under the hotel as they exist today. It was sold in 1911 to Surety Investment Company of Chicago, who still owns the property. In l931 it was incorported under the name 'Radium Hot Springs' and most recently changed to 'Indian Hot Springs'. Over the years the registers of the hotel contain a great diversity of names: Frank and Jesse James, William Bonney, Sarah Bernhardt, Walt Whitman, H.A.W.Tabor, the Vanderbilts and the Roosevelts and many more.
Updated Aug 24, 2002
Favorite thing: Beau Jo's Pizza. The restaurant was started 15 yrs ago and has branched out into four more in various parts of Denver, Boulder and suburbs. The building itself takes up half a city block and on weekends waiting in line isn't uncommon.
If you like spicy try the Cajun pizza it's screamin hot. They have the most extensive toppings and combo's I have ever seen in a pizza pub. There is also a salad bar and a large selecion of beer and mixed drinks. The setting is western with old wagons player pianos and other things to keep the children busy.
Its a must eat if your in Idaho Springs.
Fondest memory: Idaho Springs is a wonderfull mountain town with Victorian homes lining the streets. The town helps you get away from that big city feeling and makes you want to take a deep breath of Mountain air.
Written Aug 24, 2002