Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway

Details

  • DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2000)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationCO
  • Length135 miles
Byway Visitor Information
Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway
Statewide Byway Partners
Colorado Department of Transportation
Colorado Tourism
Aspens decked in autumn's tawny hues line the Gold Belt Tour.
Sally Pearce Photo

Overview

The Gold Belt Tour follows historic railroad and stagecoach routes leading to North America's greatest gold camp, three world-class fossil sites, and numerous historic sites. The Shelf and Phantom Canyon Roads cut along unpaved routes through winding canyons. Five byway communities allow a glimpse into this area's rich heritage.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

The Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway is a 131-mile route that features an abundance of old mining towns in the shadow of Pikes Peak. Among these towns are Cripple Creek, Florence, McCourt, Adelaide, Wilbur, Victor and more. These towns were responsible for a renowned gold boom in the early 1890s. A journey through these narrow roads arrives to the reward of outstanding scenery—Pikes Peak is just the beginning. Miles of high country reveal wilderness in Beaver Creek, roaring waters of the Royal Gorge, and two significant fossil areas—Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and the Garden Park Dinosaur Fossil Area.

From the Royal Gorge Bridge, witness Colorado’s natural beauty while standing 956 feet above the Arkansas River. The park also offers guided climbing, a skycoaster and a zip line. Mueller State Park has over 5,000 acres of meadows, forest, ponds and granite peaks. Within the fossil landscape exist petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide, each containing fossilized insects and plants from prehistoric times. Florissant Fossil Beds, positioned far enough from light pollution, is also an excellent place to learn about the night sky. From the park, visitors can see the Milky Way and other galaxies, as well as star clusters, nebulae, planets and comets. Garden Park Dinosaur Fossil Area will fascinate sightseers with an appreciation for Jurassic history. Considered one of the most important locations in the United States for prehistoric activity, this fossil area has uncovered skeletal remains of many dinosaurs, as well as late Jurassic remains of mammals, crocodiles, turtles and flora. Designated a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in 2000, this 5-hour drive is a time capsule for those interested in paleontology and American history alike.

Driving Directions

From Florissant, take US-24W to US-50E, and continue for 11 miles until you reach Cañon City.

Points of Interest

  • Royal Gorge Bridge

    The Royal Gorge Bridge is a tourist attraction near Cañon City, Colorado.

  • Muller State Park

    Mueller State Park is a park encompassing 5,112 acres of land outside Divide, Colorado, west of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

    The Florissant Formation is a sedimentary geologic formation outcropping around Forissant, Teller County, Colorado.

  • Garden Park Fossil Area

    Garden Park Fossil Area reveals dinosaur-fossil quarries with trails and scenic overlooks in a rugged setting.

Itinerary

  • Two Days on the Gold Belt

    Day 1
    Starting in Cañon City, enjoy an early breakfast before rafting down the scenic Arkansas River. Take a leap on a zipline before returning to town for lunch. Spend your afternoon with an ATV or helicopter tour of the area. Rest over a leisurely dinner and head to bed early in preparation for the next day.

    Day 2
    After breakfast in Cañon City, take a stroll along the Historic Main Street. All aboard the Royal Gorge Route Railroad to meander the area by train. Return to town for lunch before traveling Phantom Canyon Road. Finish your day sipping wine at Holy Cross Abbey before returning for a relaxing dinner.

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