The Gold Belt Tour
Take a Tour of the Gold BeltThis Historical and National Scenic Byway, the Gold Belt Tour, connects the Cripple Creek and Victor Mining Districts—the site of the once-upon-a-time world’s largest gold rush. Now popular as a series of scenic byways, which all travel north to south and connect the towns of Florissant and Divide to Cañon City, which is approximately 50 miles south. The towns of Cripple Creek and Victor are in between these connecting routes. This area has three major scenic byways, each filled with historical sites and tales of times gone by. These adventurous routes range in elevation between 5,000 and 9,500, and are full of stunning scenery, rich with wildlife viewing and leaf-peeping during the fall season. If you’re not up to the white-knuckle driving, try taking a guided tour via the Gold Belt Scenic Tour and Historic Byway organization.
Phantom Canyon Road - Gold BeltThis route tops out at 9,500 feet and offers spectacular views and chances to see a wide range of plants and wildlife. The gravel road follows the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad built in 1894 that once connected the goldfields of Cripple Creek and Victor to Florence. Unique narrow bridges and tunnels are part of this route, which reflect the past but require slow, careful travel. There are remnants of hundreds of historical mines between Cripple Creek and Victor, plus one that still operates today.
Find Phantom Canyon Road
Beginning at Cañon City, go six miles east on U.S. 50, then north at the intersection of Hwy 67. Phantom Canyon Road is off-limits to vehicles more than 25 feet long. That should tell you something. The road is unpaved and winds through the canyon. Steep drop-offs and one-lane areas are part of the adventure, and the speed limit is 20 mph through most of your trip.
Shelf Road - Gold BeltThis rugged route named ‘The Shelf’ transformed an untraveled wilderness into a major route for stagecoaches and freight wagons traveling between the Arkansas Valley and the Cripple Creek Gold Mining District. The Shelf references a five-mile stretch of road that hugs the sheer rock walls above Fourmile Creek.
Scenic Attractions along Shelf Road
- Arkansas River Walk
- Garden Park Fossil Area
- Red Canyon Park
- Shelf Road Recreation Area - rock climbing, hiking, mnt biking
- The Shelf
- Window Rock
- Carlton Tunnel
Find Shelf Road
Travel north on Field Avenue, which becomes Shelf Road, right out of Canon City. This road is paved for about 10 miles to Red Canyon Park and unpaved between Red Canyon Park and Cripple Creek. Shelf Road narrows to one lane with turnouts for eight miles where it crosses “The Shelf.” Four-wheel drive is recommended, and may be necessary to travel north of Garden Park when wet. Shelf Road Recreation Area is known for its technical rock-climbing.
High Park Road to Cripple Creek - Gold BeltOriginally, High Park Road was the Currant Creek Trail, once well-traveled by American Indians who moved between the Arkansas River and South Park. This route became a main route for mountain men, explorers, and later people moving between the Leadville and South Park mining camps.
Find High Park Road
This route is a pleasant drive. From Canon City, go west on U.S. 50 for eight miles and then turn north on Colo: Highway 9. Then Turn east on Highway 11 for an all-paved, easy drive to historic Cripple Creek, which boasted two opera houses, 75 saloons, eight newspapers, and a stock exchange in its glory days. The past lives on at the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, the Homestead House Museum (an 1890s brothel), and the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Visiting Cripple CreekVisit Cripple Creek and enjoy nine casinos, shops, and restaurants, plus more. Cripple Creek is one of Colorao’s most historical mining districts. This town is rich with wild-west history and memorabilia.
Significant Cripple Creek Attractions:
- The Historical Butte Theater
- The Cripple Creek District Museum, Outlaw Museum, and Mining Museum.
- The Old Homestead House
- The Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad - scenic train rides
- The Cripple Creek Donkeys - descendants of mining donkeys
- Cripple Creek Fire Station
- Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine - tour
by Kathleen Fitzsimmons