Welcome sign to Historic Colorado Mining Country

15 Best Things to Do in Idaho Springs (in 2023)

I’m a Colorado local who can guide you to the best things to do in Idaho Springs, Colorado!

This mountain town is one of the best day trips from Denver, offering a far different experience than the big city. Many Idaho Springs attractions are centered around mining history and outdoor recreation.

I overview popular activities in this guide, like touring the Argo gold mine and whitewater rafting in Clear Creek Canyon. But I also share a few personal favorites, like my go-to hiking trails and spots to sip craft beer after a day of adventure.

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15 Best Things to Do in Idaho Springs, Colorado

Argo Gold Mill and Tunnel

Explore a mining relic where the Colorado gold rush started.

The Argo Gold Mill and Tunnel from the outside and the Argo tourist bus

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 567-2421 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $25 adults, $20 ages 5-16, $4 under 5 | 👉 Book A Tour of Argo on Viator

The Argo Gold Mill and Tunnel is a former processing facility from the Pike’s Peak gold rush era. During this time, Gilpin and Clear Creek County were known as “the richest square mile on Earth.”

In 1893, construction of the 4.2-mile tunnel began, and 10 years later, it reached all the way to Central City. Up until 1943, Argo transported and processed gold ore from several gold mines near Idaho Springs. 

Today, when weather permits, visitors can attend hourly historic tours. Explore the 5-story mill, walk into the Argo tunnel entrance, and receive a gold panning lesson from your tour guide. It’s one of the top attractions in Idaho Springs, providing great insight into the early days of this well-preserved mining town.

Mount Evans Scenic Byway  

Be amazed by breathtaking views on one of the best scenic drives in Colorado.

Scenic view while on a road trip in Idaho Springs
Sights from the highest paved road in North America

📍 Google Maps | Hours: Closed in Winter 

Mount Evans Scenic Byway is one of the most iconic drives in Colorado. The 27-mile route takes roughly 2 hours roundtrip, leading you above 14,000-feet elevation. Enjoy Idaho Springs’ nature as you wind up switchbacks and stop at attractions along the way. 

Noteworthy breaks include Echo Lake Park, Mount Goliath Natural Area, and Summit Lake. On the peak of Mount Blue Sky (formerly known as Mount Evans), admire panoramic views stretching from the Never Summer Range to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 

Echo Mountain

Enjoy winter activities at Denver’s closest ski resort.

View of a ski lift in the snowy Echo Mountain

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (720) 899-2100 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, 10 am – 5 pm Monday-Tuesday, 10 am – 9 pm Wednesday-Friday, 9 am – 9 pm Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm Sunday | Entrance: $57-69 adults, $35-50 ages 6-15, free under 6 with purchase

You can find Colorado mountain ski resorts all over the Rocky Mountains, but none are as close to Denver as Echo Mountain. It’s one of Colorado’s newest and most affordable ski areas. 

From their lift, get access to beginner and intermediate runs, plus a few challenging sections through The Glades. Night skiing and riding make Echo Mountain Park a great destination for adventure seekers looking to get in a few turns after the workday. Snow tubing is also available here, providing Idaho Springs fun to the whole family.  

👉 Love Ski Resorts? To learn more about Keystone, Loveland, Winter Park, and more, read our guide on the 12 Best Ski Resorts Near Denver!

Whitewater Rafting

Splash down rapids through Clear Creek Canyon.

Group of friends enjoying whitewater rafting in Clear Creek Canyon
(photo: Steve Boice /  Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 567-1000 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, 7 am – 8 pm daily | Entrance: $69-150 per person | 👉 Browse Whitewater Rafting Tours on Viator

If visiting Idaho Springs in the summer, whitewater rafting is a must. After all, it’s one of the best things to do in Colorado!

There are several outfitters in this little mountain town, all of which have great reviews. Compare various tours with Clear Creek Rafting Co., Liquid Descent, and more by booking your rafting trip on Viator.

Just about anyone can take part in rafting, even those without prior experience. Families with children over 7 can enjoy a beginners’ trip, admiring Colorado scenery through long float sections. Those looking for a serious adrenaline rush will love rafting over Class IV rapids in Clear Creek Canyon. 

Indian Hot Springs

Soak and relax at one of Idaho Springs’ top attractions.

View of the welcoming sign to Indian Hot Springs

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 989-6666 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 9 pm daily | Entrance: $20-25 per person, free under 3 

Like many Colorado towns named after their hot springs, Idaho Springs started as a mining town and later became a tourist destination. This is the case for Steamboat Springs, Hot Sulphur Springs, and Glenwood Springs, too. 

Since 1905, Indian Hot Springs in Idaho Springs, Colorado has drawn visitors seeking the mineral waters’ benefits. The large indoor swimming pool is surrounded by lush, exotic plants. Vapor caves and spa services — including mud baths — make it unique compared to other hot springs in Colorado.

It also happens to be the closest to the Mile High City among all the hot springs near Denver!

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Indian Hot Springs offers historic lodging within their resort and inn, as well as private cabins. Stay here, or check out other accommodations in Idaho Springs

Beau Jo’s 

Try a “Colorado mountain pie”, served with a side of honey. 

View of the Beau JJo's Pizza signage on the entrance
The original Beau Jo’s location in Idaho Springs, Colorado

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 567-4376 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 8 pm Monday-Thursday and Sunday, 11 am – 9 pm Friday-Saturday 

Beau Jo’s creates locals’ favorite Colorado-style pizza and was first established in Idaho Springs in 1973. Today, they have six locations throughout Colorado, and are famed for their “mountain pies.”

A thick, hand-rolled crust holds in pounds of toppings. Try The Hipster, one of the best vegetarian pizzas I’ve ever had, or order my husband’s favorite, the Dude Ranch! Dip the crusts in honey for dessert, and enjoy this unique, beloved restaurant in Idaho Springs. 

Hiking Trails

Experience Idaho Springs’ nature and wildlife areas.

View of the hiking trail in Herman Gulch
Herman Gulch, a popular hiking trail in Idaho Springs

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: $5 cash parking at St. Mary’s Glacier, free elsewhere

There are so many great hiking trails near Idaho Springs, enjoyable both in the warm and winter months. St. Mary’s Glacier is less than 30 minutes from downtown Idaho Springs and is one of the best hikes near Denver.

Mount Bierstadt, a popular 14er in Clear Creek County, is one of the top-rated hikes in Colorado! Summit views feature the Continental Divide and surrounding Arapahoe National Forest.

Herman Gulch Trail is a personal favorite, especially for peeping fall colors. Other popular routes include Chief Mountain Trail, Beartracks Lake Trail, and Chicago Lakes Trail. 


Cast lines into Clear Creek for a chance at cutthroat trout. 

A man fishing in the Clear Creek in Idaho Springs
(photo: Steve Boice / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (844) 291-4218 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, 8 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $125-225 per tour attendee | 👉 Book A Fly Fishing Lesson on Viator

By owning a fishing license and the gear, fly fishing is one of the best free outdoor activities in Idaho Springs. Clear Creek and Chicago Creek are prime for catching brown, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. 

But if you’re new to one of Colorado’s favorite summer sports, a guided fishing trip may be beneficial. Book a half-day lesson with Downstream Adventures in the neighboring town of Empire. If you need bait and tackle, visit Clear Creek Outdoors, a highly-rated shop in downtown Idaho Springs, CO. 


Take in views as you bump along dirt roads near Idaho Springs.

A man enjoying off-roading in Idaho Springs

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 968-6258 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, 8 am – 8 pm daily | Entrance: $XX, adults, $XX under 13 | 👉 Browse Motor Sport Tours on Viator

Off-roading is one of the most adventurous things to do near Idaho Springs. The area has great backcountry roads with nearby rental services.

Book a tour with Native Jeeps to experience the rugged high country. On this half-day trip, you’ll navigate switchbacks up Argentine Pass, stop at St. Mary’s Glacier, and take on the challenging Bill Moore Lake Trail. 

If you’d prefer a smaller off-road vehicle, take a 2-hour ATV tour with Lawson Adventure Park. You’ll meet your guide at their Dumont office, located just 10 minutes west of Idaho Springs. From there, they’ll shuttle you to a nearby ATV trail and take you high into the Rocky Mountains.

Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub

Drink at a top-awarded Colorado craft brewery.

Two glasses of beer and a menu on a wooden table
Dark, flavorful stouts at Tommyknocker Brewery
A plate of black bean veggie burger with fries on the side and a glass of beer
The black bean veggie burger is delish!

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 567-2688 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 8 pm daily

Idaho Springs is home to not one, but two award-winning breweries. Receiving more than 100 medals for their ales and lagers, Tommyknocker is not one to be missed. 

Sample their core brews including the Palisade Peachwood Cream Ale, Maple Nut Brown, and Blood Orange IPA. Take advantage of their rotating seasonal selection, too! Don’t drink? Try their craft sodas and order delicious pub food to complement the experience. 

Phoenix Gold Mine

Strike gold in a retired mine in historic Idaho Springs, CO.

The author's husband participating in a mining demon in Idaho Springs
My husband participating in a mining demonstration

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 567-0422 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $25 adults, $20 seniors and ages 4-12, free under 4 

A tour of Phoenix Gold Mine is one of the best educational and interactive things to do in Idaho Springs. It’s one of the top attractions for families with children especially. The business is owned by 4th-generation Colorado miners who are passionate about teaching the history of the industry.

On their 45-minute tours, visitors walk 500-feet into the previous mining tunnel. Inside, your guide will overview the geology of the mine, pointing out a gold vein and explaining how ore was once processed. You’ll see retired equipment and even pan for gold, keeping what you find! 

Via Ferrata and Zipline Tour

Conquer one of the most extreme outdoor activities in Idaho Springs.

A group of climbers on Via Ferrata climbing route

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (720) 902-9475 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, Opens May 2022 | Entrance: $169 per person | 👉 Book A Via Ferrata and Zipline Tour on Viator

Translating to “iron way” in Italian, via ferratas are quickly growing in popularity in Colorado. It’s one of the most unique things to do in Idaho Springs. Lawson Adventure Park recently began offering tours paired with their zip lining experience. 

With help from your guide, you’ll climb high above Clear Creek County. Traverse sheer cliff faces until you reach the zip lining platform, then soar above treetops. While safety gear and training are provided, note that via ferrata and zipline tours have a minimum age requirement of 12 years. 

📚 Related Reading: Looking for family-friendly activities close to Idaho Springs? Check out Laura’s guide, “23 Fun Things to Do in Denver with Kids!”

Westbound & Down Brewing Co.

Sample craft beer on a lively outdoor patio.

Exterior view of the Westbound & Down Brewing Company
Two glasses of beer on a table and a beer tap on the background

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (720) 502-3121 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 8 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am – 8 pm Saturday-Sunday 

A trendy restaurant in Idaho Springs, Westbound & Down Brewing Co. specializes in craft beer and elevated pub food. With two patios and a spacious interior, they’re locals’ favorite after a day in the mountains. 

Their award-winning beer selection includes hoppy IPAs, fruit-forward sours, and my personal go-to, “Don’t Hassle The ‘Hef’.” Pair your pour with green chile cheese fries and a hearty burger to get the full experience at this Idaho Springs staple. 


Purchase souvenirs and more on Idaho Springs’ Miner Street. 

Stores alongside a road in Idaho Springs
Peruse outdoor gear and apparel, charming gift shops, and more

📍 Google Maps

Of all the things to do in Idaho Springs, shopping on Miner Street is a must. You can’t leave one of Colorado’s best mountain towns without a souvenir, of course! At a minimum, be sure to pick up an Idaho Springs sticker and postcard from a local gift shop. 

But Idaho Springs shopping offers more than just keepsakes and knick-knacks. Discover charming antiques at Annie’s Gold, funky tie-dye apparel at A Vivid Earth, and fragrant blends at the Spice and Tea Exchange. 

Also, pay a visit to Feral Mountain Co., one of my favorite places for Idaho Springs shopping. This affordable retailer sells both new and used outdoor gear, perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities. 

Underhill Museum 

Visit a historical building once owned by memorable Idaho Springs residents. 

The Underhill Museum from the outside in Idaho Springs

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (303) 567-4709 | Website | Entrance: donation-based 

The Underhill Museum is managed by the Idaho Springs Historical Society. It details the history of Idaho Springs and its former resident, Dr. James Underhill. In the late nineteenth century, he was a noteworthy surveyor of nearby mines.

He and his wife constructed their home and office in downtown Idaho Springs. Upon visiting the structure, you’ll notice two front doors. The Underhills once used one for personal greetings and the other for professional visitors. Here, with a small donation, you can view photos and artifacts from this prominent family and Idaho Springs’ past. 

FAQs About What to Do in Idaho Springs, Colorado

What is Idaho Springs, Colorado known for?

Idaho Springs, Colorado is known for being the place where the Colorado gold rush started. Visitors can learn about the town’s mining history by touring the Argo Gold Mill & Tunnel, as well as Phoenix Gold Mine.

Is Idaho Springs worth a visit?

Idaho Springs is worth a visit. Its downtown area features Indian Hot Springs, the Argo Gold Mill & Tunnel, and several craft breweries including Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub. There are also year-round outdoor recreational opportunities near Idaho Springs.


Thanks for reading our guide on the best things to do in Idaho Springs, CO! Whether you’re coming from Denver or beyond, be sure to visit this town on your next trip along I-70.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Abigail, Thanks for the post! I will be on Denver next week and I was planning to go to a day trip in Georgetown, but now I am wondering about Idaho Springs, which one do you recommend? Regards,

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