Cripple Creek, Colorado, is famous for its 1890 gold strike, America's 3rd largest, that ultimately produced over 22 million ounces of gold. The town and surrounding area experienced a rich history that included fortunes made and lost, town-leveling fires, labor wars, business feuds, and interesting personalities.
For a terrific overview of life in a Victorian-era boom town visit the Cripple Creek District Museum, with a broad collection of artifacts, minerals, and photographs reflecting the area’s history. Experience the life of a miner with a trip down the Molly Kathleen Mine. History and rail-road enthusiasts will enjoy a ride on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad that passes through old mining areas. The Lowell Thomas Museum in Victor offers an excellent overview of the life and times of the celebrated journalist who began his career in the Cripple Creek mining district. Those interested in the “seedier” side of boom towns will enjoy a tour of the Old Homestead House Museum on Meyers Avenue in Cripple Creek, once the most famous brothel in the town’s red-light district. The recently opened Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum, located in the former Teller County jail that once housed a member of the "Wild Bunch" gang, offers visitors a glimpse into frontier justice in a gold-rush town. The new Pikes Peak Heritage Center offers a variety of exhibits on the 1890’s gold rush and natural history of the region.
Cripple Creek’s history began with old-west “gold-seekers” seeking their fortune in the area’s hills and valley’s. Modern “gold-seekers” can try their luck in the more than one dozen Cripple Creek casinos, which are just a short two block walk from the Hotel. Among the favorites is Bronco Billy's Casino, known for its authentic old-west atmosphere. Who knows, perhaps you will be the newest person to "strike it rich" in Cripple Creek!
The Cripple Creek area offers a variety of choices for the natural history buff. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument provides a world-class look at fossils from an ancient lake buried under volcanic ash from eruptions that helped shape the Cripple Creek landscape. Florissant also has miles of hiking trails and the Hornbek Homestead, an actual pioneer homestead from 1878. Dinosaur buffs will enjoy the excellent Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in nearby Woodland Park, with numerous displays and mounted dinosaur skeletons, including a 20 foot Albertosaurus named Pebbles. The nearby famous Royal Gorge Bridge offers a chance to cross the world’s highest suspension bridge, over 1000 feet above the Arkansas River. Geology buffs will enjoy the drive to the top of Pikes Peak. At 14,110 feet, the view is magnificent.
Good food is on the menu at a number of Cripple Creek restaurants. Two local favorites are The Steakhouse, offering gourmet dining and attentive service four days a week, and Baja Billy's, serving fine Mexican cuisine and margaritas in a Mexican paradise. Both are conveniently located in Bronco Billy's Casino. Other favorites include Maggie's Restaurant in the Colorado Grande Casino, and Chef Paul's Steakhouse in the Imperial Casino, both offering fine dining, relaxing ambiance, and attentive service.
Cripple Creek boasts one of the longest running playhouses in Colorado, the Butte Opera House, which offers a changing schedule of entertaining melodramas throughout the year.
Bennett Avenue, Cripple Creek’s main street, hosts a number of shops offering a variety of gifts, memorabilia, and collectibles. Those interested in antiques will want to visit the nearby town of Victor, which contains several interesting shops selling antiques and period memorabilia.
The Cripple Creek area includes a variety of year-round options for the outdoor enthusiast. Nearby Mueller State Park offers the chance to experience nature firsthand on 50 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback trails. The adjacent Dome Rock Wildlife Area adds many more miles of hiking trails and the chance to see bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and other wildlife in an area of abundant natural beauty. Mountain bikers will also enjoy rides on some the nearby dirt roads and trails that connected Cripple Creek with the outside world, including the Shelf Road, Phantom Canyon Road, and Gold Camp Road, and the nearly complete 60 mile Ring the Peak Trail around Pikes Peak. The Vindicator Trail in Victor, offering a self-guided 2 mile loop past abandoned mines, structures, and exhibits that detail mine history and operations, is only one of the many interesting gold-era trails in the Cripple Creek region. Winter in Cripple Creek offers many outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating in nearby Victor's Brian Park.
Cripple Creek and the surrounding areas offer the visitor a wide selection of activities and sights to ensure a fun and event-filled visit. More information regarding the areas above and other activities, including area events, can be found on Cripple Creek's Visit Cripple Creek web site. And of course, the staff at the Hotel St. Nicholas will be happy to help you plan your visit with ideas, brochures, and directions.