TELLER COUNTY GUIDE: Cripple Creek and Victor – travel back in time to the heyday of mining |


If you are looking for a day trip, overnight trip or even a weekend trip, you might want to visit the Victor and Cripple Creek mining district.

This area offers breathtaking mountain vistas and scenery, historic hiking trails, antique shops, historical museums, a glimpse of old and new mining and casinos – and you can even come across wild animals. It’s the perfect mountain getaway, with plenty to see and do, and you can decide what’s right for you.

In quaint downtown Victor, you might just want to park and walk around. There are antique shops and the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, an original 1899 building that houses artifacts, books, exhibits and photographs depicting life in Victor from his early days through the height of the gold mining. There are also memorabilia once belonging to famous journalist and world traveler Lowell Thomas.

Just down the street is the Gold Camp Bakery and Deli. They produce a wide selection of German and American baked goods and offer breakfast dishes, sandwiches, soup or pie for lunch.

Across the street is the famous Isis Theater. It was built in 1899, but burned down along with most of the city that year. It was rebuilt in 1904 and its stage has been used for vaudeville shows, plays and films. There is an extensive display of memorabilia including vintage costumes, posters, posters, theater curtains and the original piano. There is plenty to see while the theater is being restored.

Another place to visit is the Fortune Club Restaurant, which offers great food surrounded by the rich history of the building dating back to 1896. They even have an old fashioned soda fountain. Talk about nostalgia.

The upstairs was part of the city’s red-light district during the mine’s heyday, but the bedrooms are now converted into private dining rooms.

Another museum to visit is Victor’s Gold Camp Ag and Mining Museum – a robust museum that is also a machine shop, blacksmith shop and assay office. In front of the museum is a nice little art gallery with lots of pieces drawn, painted and/or made by local artisans.

If you decide to spend the night, you have the choice between several hotels. The Victor Hotel, located at the corner of Fourth Street and Victor Avenue, boasts 19th century charm and 21st century amenities. It has a lift, a restaurant and a bar.

If a nod to the macabre strikes you, head to the Black Monarch Hotel at the corner of Victor Avenue and Third Street. Black Monarch is a historic property modernized into a boutique hotel. The rooms are richly decorated and themed after dark and mysterious characters. Included are Bela Lugosi’s Dracula Room and a room dedicated to inventor/electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Local lore attests that Tesla wired the city of Victor around 1899.

Victor’s Best Little Guesthouse is themed around country singers, and every room is decorated with the singer in mind, like Lynn Anderson, Tammy Wynette, the Carters, Patsy Cline, and, of course, Dolly Parton.

Two scenic routes available from Victor and Cripple Creek that are worth mentioning are: Phantom Canyon Road, part of the Gold Belt Scenic Byway, which increases in elevation from 5,500 to 9,500 feet, has two tunnels and three raised decks; and Shelf Road, the most adventurous and rugged route on the Gold Belt Scenic Byway, crossing limestone cliffs with twists and turns in the area. The rugged and mountainous road gets its name from the fact that it is cut into the canyon wall and rises over 100 feet in some places. All-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicles are probably best.

About two miles outside of Victor on Highway 67 is the Cripple Creek and Victor gold mine, owned and operated by Newmont Corp. The mine, formerly and historically the Cresson mine, is an active gold mine. It is the richest gold mine in Colorado’s history and the only significant gold producer remaining in the state.

Another four miles and you’re at Cripple Creek. Bennett Avenue is the main street, and you will see many casinos to choose from where you can play, and who knows, maybe win a jackpot! There are also several restaurants and hotels.

The Cripple Creek District Museum complex of five historic buildings includes the Midland Terminal Railway Depot, Colorado Trading & Transfer, Assay Office, and two miners’ cabins. Adjacent to the complex is Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, which is a treat for railroad and history buffs, children and the whole family. The 45-minute journey reveals scenic wonders around every curve as the century-old steam locomotive takes you back to the days of gold mining.

As you drive through Cripple Creek, be on the lookout for donkeys that roam the streets to greet visitors. Today’s burros are descendants of those brought to Cripple Creek in the 1890s to help transport mining equipment. Donkeys roam where they want and they love treats. If you want to feed them, you are asked to use approved treats: carrots, apples, celery and bananas – they love bananas.

There is so much to explore, learn and experience in Victor and Cripple Creek that you may need to take a few trips to see and do all the area has to offer.


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