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Map: Idaho Springs

Region: Northern Front Range Regional Information

County: Clear Creek

Proximity to other towns: Located 26 miles from Boulder, 4.2 miles from Central City, 4.5 miles from Black Hawk, 11.7 miles from Empire, 12.6 miles from Georgetown,

Population: 1,797

Elevation: 7,524 feet

In Idaho Springs, Co. on January 5, 1859, during the Colorado gold rush, prospector George A. Jackson discovered placer gold, where Chicago Creek empties into Clear Creek. It was the first substantial gold discovery in Colorado. Jackson, a Missouri native with experience in the California gold fields, was drawn to the area by clouds of steam rising from some nearby hot springs. Jackson kept his find secret for several months, but after he paid for some supplies with gold dust, others rushed to Jackson's diggings. The settlement was first called Spanish Bar, later renamed Idaho Springs, after the hot springs.

Town Know For: Several mine tours give visitors insight into local mining history. In town is the Argo Gold Mill, where you can see what a working mill looked like. And not far from town is the Phoenix Mine, a working gold mine, where you can learn about modern day, as well as historical, mining techniques. You can also pan for gold! A walk around town shows the many buildings that have been preserved — though most now have different uses than what they were originally.

Adjacent to Idaho Springs, due west of Denver, is Mount Evans. The road to the peak is a 14-mile ascent on the highest paved road in North America, rising to 14,200 feet above sea level. Keep on the look-out as mountain goats often graze alongside the highway. If you stop, they'll even come to car windows begging for food, but please don’t feed them.

There are plenty of good little restaurants in Idaho Springs, including a brewpub. All are affordable, as is area lodging and genuinely unique shopping.

After a long day of playing tourist, enjoy the hot mineral waters of the springs for which the town is named. You can stay at the hot springs lodge or just visit the geothermal springs and caves for a fitting end to your hard-working day.

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