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.
Table of Contents
- 15 Best Things to Do in Idaho Springs, Colorado
- FAQs About What to Do in Idaho Springs, Colorado
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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 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.
📍 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.
Enjoy winter activities at Denver’s closest ski resort.
📍 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.
Splash down rapids through Clear Creek Canyon.
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.
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.
Try a “Colorado mountain pie”, served with a side of honey.
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.
Experience Idaho Springs’ nature and wildlife areas.
📍 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visit a historical building once owned by memorable Idaho Springs residents.
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?
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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