The Cripple Creek donkeys helped to make this mining town what it is today, and they are celebrated each year by being set free to roam where they please.

Cripple Creek is a small, historic mining town that has been around since the Gold Rush. According to the Colorado Encyclopedia, "Cripple Creek was the site of the last and greatest mining boom in Colorado, attracting tens of thousands of people to the western flank of Pikes Peak in the 1890s."

While this town has a rich history, perhaps the most fun aspect of this town's upbringing is their donkeys. During the 1890s, the donkeys would help the Cripple Creek miners with tasks such as carrying mining carts and are attributed to having helped make the town what it is today.

"Our current donkey herd is believed to be made up of several direct descendants of the donkeys that were used to work the mines in the Cripple Creek & Victor mining district in the early years of the gold camp. When miners had to leave the area, often their donkeys were let loose to roam. Today, the donkey herd will roam throughout the gold camp, freely walking through the streets, neighborhoods and hills of the area." - Visit Cripple Creek

The donkeys played another big role in Cripple Creek's history in 1933 when two businessmen decided to hold a Donkey Derby in order to increase tourism.

On Cripple Creek's own Attractions website, they have a page dedicated to the very special donkey herd. Visit Cripple Creek states, "Today, the Two Mile High Club continues to put on Donkey Derby Days the last full weekend in June of each year. The donkeys are no longer ridden, but races are held by leading the donkeys through a series of obstacles on Bennett Avenue. Proceeds from the weekend are used by the club to provide feed and veterinary services for the herd."

donkey herd, cripple creek

Courtesy of Cripple Creek, Colorado (Facebook)

If you're simply interested in traveling to Cripple Creek to meet the donkey herd while they roam free, Cripple Creek Donkeys on Facebook gives the following advice:

"They are usually at the west end of the city, where the grazing is good." 

"Visitors can see the herds roaming around Cripple Creek starting in Mid-May and going through October," said Visit Cripple Creek.

The 88th annual Donkey Derby Days will be held from June 21-23, and it's completely free! Watch a race, enjoy games and live entertainment, and even have the chance to meet the new baby donkeys. For more information, including the schedule, click here.

Have you ever been to Cripple Creek for the Donkey Derby Days or to just visit the herd? Or are you planning on going? Let us know in the comments how your experience was!