By Christina VanGinkel
The first time I visited Colorado, nearly twenty years ago, one of the towns I was fortunate enough to call upon was Cripple Creek. Cripple Creek was still a sleepy little town back then, reminiscent of many old west flavored towns scattered about the state. It sat nestled amongst the mountain vistas that were and still are such a big draw for tourists all over the world. At that time, gambling as a source of revenue was being talked about, but it had yet to make a comeback. Where gambling had once thrived in the over one hundred saloons that dotted the face of the town, and then been banned as the flavorful old west town tamed down, it was once again legalized in 1990.
Home to Limited Stakes Gambling (meaning that all bets are limited to a maximum value of five dollars), Cripple Creek is also home to many fine restaurants, and various attractions including many old west flavored ones. From ghost walking tours, which combine a walk and tour of some of the most celebrated ghost sightings around town, to meeting some descendants of the very mules that made this mining town what it was during the heyday of the mines, there are some unique ways to pass the time in a town known for its casinos.
The state of Colorado itself is a wonderful place to visit. With tourist stops ranging from the tops of mountains to caves, there truly is something for everyone to see and experience in the state. For this reason alone, whether you are considering planning a family vacation or a trip for yourself or as a couple, Colorado is a fine place to consider.
You can take the kids on all sorts of daytrips, and then sneak off to the nightlife that a town such as Cripple Creek offers, for some fun adult entertainment in the form of the Limited Stakes gambling. On the other hand, enjoy the nightlife morning, noon, and night if you are traveling without kids! Several of the casinos also offer arcades for the kids to enjoy some gaming in during the day.
While in Cripple Creek, be sure to enjoy the fine dining in their many restaurants and retire for the night in one of their many historically located hotels. There is plenty to see and do, and if you enjoy gambling, but dislike to fast paced, huge crowds of places such as Las Vegas, then this might be just the atmosphere you have been searching. Unless you come for a visit though, it will be hard to find out if it is all the things, so many people believe it to be.
Located just west of Colorado Springs, which is home to numerous tourist attractions of its own, Cripple Creek was once considered one of Colorado’s foremost ghost towns. With laws put in place before the gambling took over the town, many of the original structures were preserved, providing much of the fun of the old west theme that the town has long been famous. While it would not in my opinion still qualify as a sleepy ghost town as it surely was the day I first visited twenty years back, it nonetheless still has a lot to offer for anyone interested in Colorado’s historical buildings and history rich in ghost tales. There is the Butte Opera House, which is open year round, and restored to its original 1890’s glory, the Cripple Creek District Museum, which is located in the original location of the Midland Terminal Railroad Depot, or the Old Homestead Museum, an original 1890’s brothel in Cripple Creek’s Red Light District. There are gold mines, rock climbing, hiking, even a skateboard park. Cripple Creek is a town that offers something for everyone in the family.
Fees for these and other attractions vary, with some of the attractions open year round, and others only during the summer months. If you are planning a vacation to Colorado, be sure to put Cripple Creek at the top of your list of towns to stop by and visit. You may end up staying for the whole trip though, as there are attractions and activities all around town, day and night, just waiting to be discovered.