There's gold (and much more) in them thar' hills!
Road-trip season is just around the corner, and Colorado is full of destinations that are fun, interactive, and educational! Mine tours, museums, and more across the state take you back to Colorado's roots, literally. You can trek into a mountain, get yourself some gold, or head into the depths of the earth to experience the life of an early miner.
Some of these mining destinations are an easy day trip for the Denver and Colorado Springs area, and some are perfect for longer vacations. Open dates vary, as some are open year-round and some just open during the summer months, so head to their websites for the latest information. Check out our list below and prospect up a fantastic excursion that is great for all ages!
Colorado Mine Tours and Museums
Country Boy Mine Tour, Breckenridge
Once one of the largest and most famous gold mines in Colorado, you can pet burros, pan for gold, slide down the 55-foot-long ore chute, and explore the 1887-built mineshaft that cuts 1,000 feet below Breckenridge.
Courtesy of Country Boy Mine (Facebook)
Hidee Gold Mine Tour, Central City
Located in what has been reputed as the richest square mile on Earth, visitors to the Hidee get to try out gold mining and gold panning, and can even keep what they find! It gives a historical perspective on what underground mining was like in the Colorado mountains.
Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine Tour, Cripple Creek
Named for the first woman to strike gold in the Centennial State, you will descend down a 100-story tunnel that is America’s only vertical shaft gold mine tour. Check out veins of gold, ride the underground tram, and leave with your very own gold ore sample.
Lebanon Silver Mine Tour, Georgetown
Take a trip on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, and make a stop at the Lebanon (I've done it, and recommend it!). Tours will guide you 500 feet into a tunnel bored in the 1870s and brimming with veins of silver and other mining treasures.
There's a light at the end of the Lebanon Mine's tunnel.
Argo Gold Mine and Mill, Idaho Springs
Trek through the Argo Tunnel, observe tools of the trade, and pan for gold or gemstones, keeping what you find! This expansive mine is brimming with history, but at its height only required around five people to operate it.
Phoenix Gold Mine, Idaho Springs
An authentic look into a Colorado gold mine, which is still a working mine, operated by the oldest continuous gold-mining family in Colorado! It also offers gold panning.
Hard Tack Mine, Lake City
The tour will take you back in time to discover how hard rock miners blasted their way through the earth using only hand tools and dynamite. Deep inside the tunnel, an underground rock gallery is home to the area’s largest rock and mineral collection.
Courtesy of the Hard Tack Mine (Facebook)
Bachelor Syracuse Mine, Ouray
Take a trip 1,500 feet into Gold Mountain to dig into Ouray's fascinating mining past. Learn about how early miners did their work in challenging conditions. Gold panning is also available.
Old Hundred Gold Mine, Silverton
This tour is just plain cool (trust me, I've done it!). The tour will take you into Galena Mountain where you will see colorful minerals and crystals, ride a vintage electric-powered mine train, see mining equipment demonstration, and much more!
Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine Tour, Victor
Start at the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum for a historical overview of the Gold Rush, then take a guided tour of the modern gold mine that is still in operation. Maybe you can win some of that gold at Cripple Creek's casinos after the tour!
Colorado Mining Museums
Western Museum of Mining & Industry, Colorado Springs
Over 4,000 artifacts are on display at the 27-acre indoor/outdoor exhibit site; which includes a 10-stamp ore mill, a multi-purpose center with exhibits, a theater, and a 5,000-volume research library.
Creede Underground Mining Museum, Creede
Yes, this museum is underground, with tours led by retired miners who explain equipment and methods of mining to visitors, or you can take a self-guided audio tour.
Courtesy of Creede Underground Mining Museum
National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, Leadville
Leadville exists today because of its mining history, and this museum holds 25,000 sq. ft. of exhibits and more. You can also visit the site of the Matchless Mine, the venture of Horace and Baby Doe Tabor.
Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, Victor
Head up to the mountains and explore two floors of artifacts, books, exhibits, and photographs depicting the life in Victor from its beginnings to the heyday of gold mining.
Do you know of any mine tours or museums we may have missed? Let us know in the comments!