11 Best Things to Do in Black Hawk, Colorado

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Black Hawk is an old mining town in the Colorado Rock Mountains that has exploded into a mini Las Vegas. Fifteen different casinos offer the town’s population of fewer than 200 24/7 access to play blackjack, poker, roulette, and slot machines. Besides the gambling, Black Hawk provides a great outdoor escape year-round with its proximity to state parks and ski resorts and the Arapahoe National Forest.

With amazing casino resorts, gourmet dining options, and plenty of outdoor adventures, Black Hawk is worth a visit. Here are the top things to do in this tiny town that never sleeps that is just a day trip away from Denver.

Why Black Hawk?

Located  20 miles west of Golden, the town of Black Hawk sprouted during the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859. Thousands of fortune hunters descended into this mountainous area, leading to one of Colorado’s first cities popping up almost overnight. When the railroad showed up to connect residents to Denver, the town grew even more.

Like most mining towns, the city declined as the mining industry dried up in the early 1900s.

But Black Hawk’s proximity to Denver – it’s just 45 minutes west of the city – made it a prime location for the gaming industry when gambling was legalized.

Since the first casino, Lady Luck Casino, opened in 1991, the Colorado casinos have been a big lure for visitors coming to Black Hawk. Whether you’re into outdoor adventures, history, eating great food, or gambling, you’ll find all of the above in our list of the top things to do in Black Hawk Colorado.  

1. Search for Luck and Entertainment in the Casinos

There are numerous casinos in Black Hawk and nearby Central City. The casinos go all-out to entice you to play and stay at their resorts. Besides offering poker, blackjack, craps, slot machines, and other table games, they have excellent dining options, live entertainment, and some even have spa services. Some popular casinos are:

Ameristar is one of the biggest casinos in Black Hawk. This four-star resort has more than 536 rooms, five amazing restaurants, a full-service spa, more than 1,250 slot machines, 40 table games, and 22 poker tables.

Stay in one of the luxurious rooms with fantastic views of the Rocky Mountains, press your luck in the casino, or take a relaxing dip in the rooftop pool. Either way, the Ameristar Casino will be a great base for exploring the area or your weekend getaway destination.

If you aren’t sure which casino to stay at or visit, you’re in luck: a good chunk of the casinos are within walking distance of one another. For the others, a convenient shuttle can take you from casino to casino. You can pick up the Black Hawk Shuttle-Tramway every 30 minutes at the casino and on Main Street. Elevate the experience by booking a private casino tour.

2. Discover Black Hawk’s Mining History

The city of Black Hawk is filled with history from when the first gold ore was discovered to the gold rush. Wander around the town when you are not trying to find your own gold in the casinos.

You can take a self-guided walking tour to see historic buildings around Main Street while you learn more about the people who came to this area and what living in a mining town was like.

Close by in Central City, there are several historic places to visit, like the Teller House, Gold Coin Saloon, and the Central City Opera House, the country’s fifth oldest professional opera company.

You can also visit the Thomas House Museum to see where a mining family lived and what their house looked like in 1917. The Gilpin History Museum is where you can wander through more than 18,000 artifacts from the gold mining era. There’s even a church pew that could morph into a pool table.  

3. Step Back in The Past, When Men Worked Underground

While you are visiting Black Hawk, you can step into the past by taking a mine tour from the numerous mines in the area.

By appointment, the 1885 Coeur d’Alene Mine lets you tour old mining equipment in the original mine shaft house. The Hidee Gold Mine is one of the easiest mines to tour year-round since you walk into a flat dry tunnel. Each visitor takes home a piece of gold ore.

Wear a jacket in the Phoenix Gold Mine in Idaho Springs when you head 750 feet into the 45-degree mountain. After the tour, you get to pan for gold. Also, in Idaho Springs, the big red Argo Gold Mine has an hour-long tour of the mine, tunnel, and the world’s largest mill at that time. Plus, you can pan for gold at the Argo Gold Mine.  

4. Embrace the Paranormal in Black Hawk

With more than 100 years of mining history, there was bound to be a ghost or two in the neighborhood. If you love hunting ghosts, you have some options.

You can stay at the Gilpin Hotel & Casino to find Lucille in their restaurant, visit the 1863 Lace House museum to see ghosts roaming the halls, or look for the Lady in Black in Black Hawk’s Masonic Cemetery.

There are also three abandoned mining towns turned ghost towns near Black Hawk for you to explore: Apex, Nevadaville, and Russell Gulch.

Read More: Things to Do in Jerome AZ, a Wicked Good Ghost Town

5. Pamper Yourself at the Ara Spa

There is nothing like going for an evergreen escape at the Ara Spa, where you can indulge in a massage, facial, and foot scrub. The Ara Spa offers traditional treatments and services like body scrubs, massages, facials, hair removal, manicures, and pedicures. It also has saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs available.

6. Good Eats in Black Hawk

With so many casinos in Black Hawk, you won’t have far to look for a great restaurant. There are more than 30 fabulous dining options for you to try. You can find anything from pizza, burgers, seafood, and buffets to excellent steakhouses.

Here are some of the more popular restaurants:

  • Timberline Grill – Colorado knows steak, and this is one of the best places to enjoy one. This rustic restaurant offers an amazing selection of seafood and top-notch steak choices. Don’t forget to indulge in the 24K Chocolate Bar for dessert.
  • Fireside Kitchen – This restaurant reminds you of eating around a campfire with your family on summer vacations. Enjoy munching meals cooked by a fire while watching the flames dance.
  • Harry’s Grill & Pizza – This is the spot for big breakfasts and delicious sandwiches, salads, and pizzas.  
  • Lucille Malone’s – Expect to find fresh local comfort food for the family. The restaurant offers dishes that will make you miss hanging out with your grandparents. From Chicken Alfredo to Pot Roast, you won’t go hungry here.
  • Farmer’s Pick Buffet – What casino would be complete without a buffet? The Capri Casino offers one with more than 60 food options. This farm-to-table buffet has something for everyone, including the pickiest eater. You can choose from international and American dishes and enjoy prime rib on Thursday nights.
  • The Cholua Bros. Mining Co. – And for the coffee lovers who need their morning fix, the Choulua Bros. Mining Co. has got you covered. Served in an old barn, you can get roasted Colorado coffee with a view.  

7. Soak Your Troubles Away at the Indian Hot Springs

Are you looking for more adventures a little farther out from Black Hawk? A short 25-minute drive will have you in Idaho Springs, where you can enjoy one of the many hot springs in Colorado. The Indian Hot Springs is an atrium oasis surrounded by tropical plants. Step into the warm, healing waters and feel all your aches melting away.  

8. Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

For those who enjoy hopping in their car and driving without a clear destination on scenic drives, you must take the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway. The journey from Black Hawk to Estes Park takes you along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, giving you spectacular views of the mountains.

Plan to spend at least 5 hours enjoying this 55-mile route. There are numerous pull-offs for you to have spectacular overlooks and grab that selfie or stop for a bite to eat.  

9. Go Hiking in Gilpin County

The Colorado mountains offer plenty of hiking opportunities. Black Hawk has many trails throughout the town. The Peak to Peak Trail in Clear Creek Canyon Park is an easy six-mile paved path with scenic views along the creek. The Black Hawk Peak Trail is another fairly easy trail to explore an abandoned mining town.

For more hiking options, head to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Only 15 minutes from Black Hawk, you can find more than 35 miles of hiking trails, ranging from a fairly easy one-mile to a challenging eight-mile hike. There are also snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails for winter guests and campsites with fishing access during the summer. The nearby Arapaho National Forest offers even more hiking, biking, and snowshoeing trails.

Ever fancy hiking to a glacier? You can at Saint Mary’s Glacier. Saint Mary’s Glacier is an easy two-mile hike to a glacier and snowfield. This popular hike is open all year but does require a parking fee.

10. Explore the Maryland Mountain Hidden Treasure Trailhead

Maryland Mountain Hidden Treasure Trailhead is a recent addition to Black Hawk, providing visitors a place to enjoy outdoor activities, whether you walk, run, or enjoy mountain biking.

Several trails with a range of difficulty wind around and through the Maryland Mountain, Quartz Valley, Chase Gulch, and the historic Gilpin Tramway. You can all enjoy the wonderful views of Gilpin County, Mt. Evans, and even farther to the Continental Divide Range, as well as historic sites on the 12-mile trail such as the Queen of the West Mine, the Bonanza Mill, the Belden & Tennal Stamp Mill, and the Robert Emmet Mine.  

11. Great Parks Bicycle Route

Black Hawk is a great destination for bike enthusiasts, directly on the scenic Great Parks Bicycle Route. This route is a 2,500-mile bike path that runs along the Rocky Mountain Range from Durango, Colorado, to Jasper, Alberta, Canada.  

About Heather Raulerson

I’m a Solo Adventure Traveler exploring the world, one beautiful destination at a time. I was a full-time engineer working a traditional 9-5 job for 24 years but left it all behind to travel full time. Join me as I share the stories of my transition into becoming a digital nomad, freelance travel writer and photographer with all its trials and its accomplishments. I will show you that it is never too late to pursue your dream! Follow me at my blog and on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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