Gold Belt Tour

The pioneers who settled the West were a hardy lot. After trudging across the American prairie pulling wagons laden with their worldly possessions, they arrived at the edge of the mountain frontier. It became Pike’s Peak or Bust, where the mountain represented the gateway to the land of new possibilities. Many chose not to go further than the Front Range, taking advantage of the Homestead Act to acquire their own place. The discovery of gold in 1891 upended ranching, making the stories in the region intertwined and inextricably connected. More than 25 mining towns and 500 mines sprang up in the Cripple Creek and Victor Mining District. Today, these towns highlight the Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway, which travels roads built to connect the towns and serve as transportation routes for the gold. The Shelf Road was the first connecting the gold camps to the Front Range. Soon after, Phantom Canyon was completed. The Teller One Road follows a third stagecoach and wagon route. Ultimately, the Cripple Creek and Victor Mining District – known as the biggest Gold Camp in the world – produced over 21 million ounces of gold, more than the California and Alaska Gold Rushes combined. The fortunes rose and fell while the rest of life went on. Enjoy this very comprehensive mining story, told in a myriad of museums, mines and timeless, historic towns that still retain their frontier character, with a bit of ranching heritage thrown in. This is the only place on earth such a concentration of gold mines and it pervaded every facet of life.