One of the Best Hidden Gems in Colorado: Cripple Creek
Can you imagine watching a city go from almost 50,000 people all booming with excitement and hope to a mere 600 residents? A city that then evolved from being “The World’s Greatest Gold Camp” to a fun and exciting casino town.
Cripple Creek is definitely one of the hidden gems in Colorado. With it being approximately 1 hour from Colorado Springs and a little over 2 hours from Denver, it is a must see!
Cripple Creek is full of rich and interesting history, beautiful views, awesome hiking trails, 24 hour casinos, and so much more! There is something there for everyone!
WHAT TO DO IN CRIPPLE CREEK
There are many great hiking trails in Cripple Creek, as well as extremely close in Victor and Florissant. I’ll share a little about 1 of my favorites!
2.1 mile loop
Considerably easy hike, on a well established and wide trail.
You wind past several old, abandoned mining operations. You also pass and can explore up close, several very old houses.
Beautiful views, incredible history, and INCREDIBLE FALL COLORS in September and early October.
I have also read wonderful reviews on The Crags Trail. I have not hiked it myself yet, but it looks wonderful! It is located approximately 30 minutes from Cripple Creek, in Divide, CO.
The Crags Trail is 4.8 heavily trafficked out and back trail that is rated as moderate.
There are many casinos to choose from in Cripple Creek. All casinos are open 24 hours, making it a fun and exciting night life town! All casinos in Cripple Creek offer slot machines and video poker, and there are some casinos that also offer blackjack, craps, and roulette. Please remember you must be 21 or older to gamble in all casinos.
- Brass Ass Casino
- Bronco Billy’s Casino
- Century Casino — Cripple Creek
- Christmas Casino & Inn
- Colorado Grande Casino
- Double Eagle Hotel & Casino
- Gold Rush Hotel & Casino
- J.P. McGills Hotel & Casino
- Johnny Nolons Casino
- Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino
- Uncle Sam’s Casino
- Wildwood Casino at Cripple Creek
Cripple Creek is such a history rich town and there are many museums to teach you about its history! There is even an old jail turned into a museum! Visit Cripple Creek has a full list of all the museums (and theaters) you can visit. It also includes hotels in the city, and other places to stay!
There is so much more to do and see in Cripple Creek. There are several scenic roads and byways all around there. Depending on the time of year you go, you may even get lucky with some beautiful yellow Aspen trees to drive or hike through!
I am going to give a very condensed version of the history I have learned of Cripple Creek through my readings and visiting the town several times. However, I encourage you to go see for yourself if given the opportunity! There is SO much more to learn and discover. And when you can actually see and feel the history in person, you are going to learn and absorb it so much more!
- It was originally put on the map by a Bob Womack and his brother, William in 1878. Before being Cripple Creek, it was known as “Broken Box Ranch”
- They purchased the ranch for $500 and 2 pigs, and began to explore the region and area looking for gold.
- Gold is discovered in Poverty Gulch in 1890, marking the beginning of the last gold rush in Colorado.
- Winfield Scott Stratton stakes a mining claim and names it the Independence in July of 1891. He becomes the first Cripple Creek millionaire, when he sells it for 11 million dollars in 1899.
- By 1894, Cripple Creek had 150 active mines, 5000 residents, and produced almost 3 million dollars.
- Between 1890–1910, thousands of people flocked to this area, making it “The World’s Greatest Gold Camp.”
- There were more than 22,400,000 ounces of gold taken from Cripple Creek/Victor.
- 1896 brings devastation to Cripple Creek, as they struggle with fires that destroyed half their city. 4 days after the first fire, another fire destroys most of the rest of the city.
- Wood construction is banned from the city in all new businesses. Within a few months the city is rebuilt with all bricks and stones.
- The famous trolley system of Cripple Creek shuts down in 1922.
- By 1950 the population was under 2,000 and almost all of the town and camps were abandoned.
- In 1961 Cripple Creek is named a National Historic Landmark.
- In 1991, legalized gambling is brought to Cripple Creek. This allows many of the downtown historic buildings to be turned into casinos, reviving the town.
- In 1995, open-pit mining operations begin at the site of the former Cresson Mine. This mine now produces more than 250,000 ounces of gold.
- In 1998 Cripple Creek is named an endangered historic place.
I hope you found Cripple Creek as interesting as I do, and get the chance to visit one day!