Cripple Creek has a rich and exciting history. It began as a mining town during the Colorado gold rush, then turned into a ghost town, and now today it is a top attraction for casino enthusiasts. While there are plenty of casinos in the area, you can still do much more besides playing table games or slots. Some attractions and sites in Cripple Creek are well known, but there are a few hidden gems. Next time you visit Cripple Creek and search for a unique experience, you can try them.
Visit The Outlaw & Lawmen Jail Museum
For a population that quickly grew from 15 to more than 50,000 people, the town of Cripple Creek has had more than its reasonable share of troublemakers and offenders. Hosted in a red brick building was the Teller County Jail, now known as the Outlaws & Lawmen Jail Museum, which served the town for almost 90 years. It began operations in 1901 to 1991 before it was finally closed in 1992.
In 2007, the jail opened, giving a glimpse of life on the wrong side of the law in the Wild West. The original cells are intact, so you can experience firsthand what life was like as a prisoner in the Old West. There are also several displays, photographs, and exhibits around the jail museum highlighting the real life of prisoners and law enforcement officers while the jail was still operating.
You can plan visits for any day between 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. You will take part in a small tour that lasts five to ten minutes then you are free to explore on your own. This activity can last for an hour or two. Unlike in other museums, you can touch the displays, get inside the cells, and even grab a costume for a quick photo.
Hike along the Vindicator Valley Trail
This two-mile trail is a small gold mine for anyone visiting Cripple Creek’s abandoned mines. It is an interpretive trail with signs providing basic information about the mines and the people that lived around them. The Vindicator Valley Trail begins at what is left of the Theresa Gold mine, winds its way through Colorado hills, and passes the run-down wooden remains of the Anna J. Mine. Other small mines and landmarks can also be seen along the trail.
When planning to visit, remember that it is a wide gravel loop with a slight climb and a few rocky areas. There isn’t any shade; therefore, carry some protective gear against the elements.
Tour the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
Cripple Creek is a historic landmark district once the world’s greatest gold camp. More than 22.4 million ounces of gold have been extracted from over 500 Cripple Creek and Victor mines. A visit to Cripple Creek would only be complete with a tour of one of the unique mines in the US, the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine. It is located southwest of Pikes Peak’s slopes amidst 30 other prominent attractions.
The mine is a reflection of the ingenuity of human engineering. It descends 1000 feet into the ground allowing you to capture the fascinating history of Colorado’s Gold Rush era. Each spring, the mine welcomes the public for tours descending into the mineshafts. The tour starts with a 100-story man-skip elevator ride underneath the earth as you learn the history of underground mining from 1891 to the present day.
During the tour, you will also see actual gold veins in their natural state and learn of the evolution of mining equipment through the eras. To add to the thrill of being in an actual mine with real gold, you will also have a chance to ride an underground tram air locomotive.
Indulge in McGill’s Pint & Platter
After a long day of tours around Cripple Creek, there is no better way to recharge than indulging in a casual dining experience surrounded by authentic Irish artifacts. The McGill’s Pint & Platter is a traditional Irish pub with a broad menu featuring chicken wings, cheese curds, French onion soup, and entrees like a corned beef Rueben sandwich. And if the delicious hearty meals are not enticing enough, the idea of Guinness served on a tap may be better. It is the only place in Cripple Creek where Guinness is served this way.
Whether you need to refuel or are searching for some of the best food in Cripple Creek, a stop at McGill’s Pint & Platter is worth your time. It is an excellent spot for lunch or dinner with a warm and welcoming ambiance.
Visit Cripple Creek Fire Station #3
Completed in 1900, the Cripple Creek Fire Department was built to protect the area after the reoccurrence of two catastrophic fires in 1896 that burnt 47 acres of the city and destroyed over 400 buildings. It is one of only 130 fire stations in the US that have been restored to complete authenticity. Inside this century-old fire station, you will find an original 1909 Segrave wagon and a hose reel that firefighters used in fighting fires in Cripple Creek. There is also an original hook and ladder wagon used in Goldfield and other fire artifacts showing the city’s firefighting history.
Dine, Stay, and Game at Cripple Creek’s Best Casinos
This mining community has a reputation for attracting fortune-seekers. First, it was the gold seekers during Colorado’s Gold Rush 100 years back. And now, visitors look to strike it rich in the numerous casinos and gaming halls like the Triple Crown Casinos. Whether you are looking to get away for the weekend or a road trip, Cripple Creek has endless attractions and things to do. With most of the mines closed, you may try your luck at the casinos.
Triple Crown Casinos is conveniently located on the Main Street of Cripple Creek, where numerous other attractions surround it. It features three local favorites: Brass Ass Casino, McGills Casino, and the Midnight Rose Casino. Each casino has a distinct theme and can be a place to eat, game, and rest. After all the sights and strolls through the historic city, continue the fun at one of these casinos, and you may strike gold in one of the several casino games!