Cripple Creek, Colorado | The Complete Travel Guide

Cripple Creek Overlook

Updated: May 12, 2020

Our Perspective

For us, Cripple Creek is a nice getaway to experience some peace and quiet. We are not big gamblers, so the town’s multiple casinos are rather unappealing for us, but we thoroughly enjoyed the history and the fantastic theater show. We even got up close and personal with some not so wildlife within the city limits of Cripple Creek.

cripple creek city hall and fire station

In general, the area does not sound as appealing as it really is. In driving to Cripple Creek, one is not necessarily struck with the majestic mountains that is expected of Colorado. However, Cripple Creek is located near some of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountain Range. In fact, during a free tour that Cripple Creek offers, we were given a view of a section of mountains consisting of multiple 14,000 ft. peaks (approx. 4,270 m). Most notable is Cripple Creek’s location near the famous Pikes Peak.

He Said

This trip was the second time I had been here. The first was when I was a young boy and honestly, still too young to really appreciate it. That being said, I’m really glad to have come back here again. To me, vacation means relaxing! And that’s exactly what we did. We relaxed, we hiked and we learned some things too. All in all, I’m very fond of Cripple Creek as one of those lesser known escapes. From petting donkeys walking freely around the streets to hikes on the mountain sides, first class theater shows and tours through the historical mining region, this really is a place with something for everyone. But don’t just take it from me, go there and check it out for yourself. 😉

She Said

To be honest, Cripple Creek would not be my go-to town in Colorado, just because it‘s mainly casinos and old mines combined with lots of history. However, the landscape surrounding Cripple Creek is absolutely amazing. Beautiful mountain views await you around every corner and there is plenty of trips you can take and activities to do (like Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods etc.). Therefore, Cripple Creek is a wonderful base if you plan on exploring the area and staying in a cozy mountain cabin. By the way, staying around Cripple Creek will also be cheaper as it is lesser known than other towns in the area such as Colorado Springs. Moreover, if you like history (unlike me), you will definitely enjoy the town of Cripple Creek with its free history tours and mines to visit.

3 Reasons to Visit Cripple Creek

When planning a trip to Colorado, there is an abundance of options in terms of places you can go, things you can see and adventures you can have. Here are the 3 reasons why we chose to visit Cripple Creek:

  1. While it is a tourist destination,it is secluded enough to where you don’t have the constant overcrowding that you might experience in a larger destination, such as *insert name of literally any major Colorado ski resort.*
  2. Because of its’ seclusion and location relative to the Rocky Mountains, you find yourself in a quiet, relaxing atmosphere with ample opportunities to experience nature, wildlife and the crisp mountain air. This is, of course, if you choose to rent a cabin, which is exactly what we did.
  3. Finally, we chose this destination because we could rent a beautiful cabin, directly on the mountainside for a reasonable price. Keep in mind we went in September, so there may be seasonal prices to look out for. If you also go in September, then you will be just in time to watch the Aspen trees changing colors! You’d be surprised how quickly the green on the sides of the mountains transform into various shades of yellow, orange and red.

Tips & Tricks for Cripple Creek

If you do decide to take a trip to Cripple Creek, then there are a few things we feel you should know. With our upcoming tips and tricks, we break down everything from how to get there, where to stay and what to do.

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Transportation

We highly recommend renting a car or taking your own car. The United States does not have a good public transportation system, which is why you will not find any public buses or trains that will take you to all the places you want to see. There are just so many beautiful places close to Cripple Creek (such as Pikes Peak) to discover which are only reachable by car.

If you plan on staying in Cripple Creek only, it is possible to just walk around and take tours that will show you the area. Nevertheless, we highly recommend exploring the entire region and to use Cripple Creek as your hub. There is plenty to do and see!

Accommodation

If you are a nature lover, a cabin instead of a hotel room might be the perfect place for a vacation. In addition to the great location and the wonderful silence, it is much cheaper, especially for a family or a group of people. Moreover, you have the possibility to cook in the kitchen of your cabin and prepare lunch/dinner for when you’re on the road. This tip will save you a lot of money and provides you with a more authentic experience of the area!

Here are some cheap and beautiful entire cabins that we recommend:

Things to Do

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Cripple Creek is a bit off the beaten path, which can give the impression that there just isn’t anything to do here other than chill out or gamble. Fortunately, that is not true at all. In fact, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy if you do decide to interrupt your relaxation time.

Originally, this was a mining town; therefore, there are lots of tours that will tell you all about the mining history as well as plenty of shops and activities that are based on this theme. Here is a list of things to do in and around Cripple Creek; many of which that we enjoyed ourselves:

  1. Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad – $15 pp – Four-mile trip through the historic gold mining district.
  2. Aspen Tour with the 2-Mile High Club – Free – September only. Watch the leaves change, get a history of the region and visit an old gold mining camp. We really enjoyed this one!
  3. Cripple Creek Heritage Center – Free – Information about the area and beautiful viewpoint to overlook the region.
  4. Cripple Creek’s Donkey Herd – Free – Descendants of the donkeys that used to work in the mines will roam around Cripple Creek from mid-May through October—just go find them. 🙂
  5. Cripple Creek’s Casinos – Free to enter, up to you how much you spend 😉
  6. Butte Theater – around $15 – Theater shows have always been very popular in Cripple Creek and continue to entertain tourists and citizens.
  7. Cripple Creek District Museum – $8 – They have tons of events throughout the year and various tours you can book. If you’re into the paranormal, Cripple Creek is known for having many allegedly haunted buildings. The museum even offers a ghost tour of the town’s paranormal hot spots.

For more information look at the official website for Cripple Creek.

4 Must-Do Day Trips

While you’re in Cripple Creek, you may be interested in taking some day trips to see the surrounding area and we highly encourage this. Even just getting to each of our upcoming recommended destinations are well worth the short drive because landscape and nature present you with amazing views and scenery. Don’t miss out on these adventures while you’re in the area. For more detailed information, be sure to read our article on the two best day trips from Cripple Creek.

  1. Pikes Peak – $35 entry fee per car
    Pikes Peak is one of the highest mountains in the United States with an altitude of 14,115 ft and breathtaking views. This is a wonderful day trip from Cripple Creek, as you will be able to overlook the entire region. It takes around 1 1/2 hours to get to Pikes Peak from Cripple Creek, but it is definitely worth the drive!View from Pikes Peak
  2. Garden of the Gods – Free!
    Beautiful rock formations that can be discovered by hiking different trails or driving your car throughout the park! During your trip here, you will discover beautiful sandstone rock formations, breathtaking views of Pikes Peak and probably spot some wildlife. Head over there now, the Garden of the Gods is only a 30 minute drive from Cripple Creek!Rock formations in Garden of the Gods
  3. Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings – $12 per Adult
    The name basically says it all. these are literally houses built into the sides of cliffs. However, they’re not just any houses. These were built around 1,000 years ago by the Anasazi who were native to the area at the time. There are tons of cliff dwellings in the American Southwest, but these are easily accessible, affordable and you can actually go inside and look around! They also have a museum with ancient artifacts discovered on site. Official website: Manitou Cliff Dwellings

    Outside view of the Manitou cliff dwellings

  4. Cave of the Winds – $23 per Adult
    This is your opportunity to see the inside of a massive cave system. It’s on the more expensive side, but if you like these sorts of things, then it’s definitely worth a visit. If you’re the more adventurous type, you can also take part in one of their many attractions for thrill seekers. Official website: Cave of the Winds

    Inside the Cave of the Winds

The cool thing about these last 3 is that they are all really close to each other; so close, in fact, that you could actually visit all 3 on the same day!

Cripple Creek Facts and History

Cripple Creek was originally a mining camp during the first Colorado gold rush, which lends salt to most all of the area’s history. Speaking of salt, the area was also home to a major hoax which caused most of the region’s miners to abandon the area, before another legitimate strike caused quick new boost in the Cripple Creek population. Cripple Creek has experienced major fluctuations in population over the years before settling down at a conservative 1,000+, today.  Although there is still a major active gold mine in Cripple Creek, the historical city is now mostly just a tourist destination. If you’re not a fan of tourists and people, do not let that discourage you from visiting Cripple Creek. There are plenty of vacation cabins in the area, where one can easily escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

About the Authors

Authors Ryne Cook and Denise Braun from He Said or She Said

Ryne Cook and Denise Braun: We visited Cripple Creek and came back with tips on great things to do, where to stay and even found the perfect nearby day trips. Our first-hand knowledge will help you have a wonderful vacation in this old gold mining town.

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