Looking for the best things to do in Idaho Springs during your next holiday? Whether you’re traveling with family, with friends, or solo, we’ve got a list of things to do to keep you busy, busy, busy.
Colorado is one of America’s most beautiful states. With its snow-capped peaks, lush aspen forests, great sand dunes, and incredible rock formations, Colorado has such diverse natural beauty – it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise!
But with so much to see and do in Colorful Colorado, it’s hard to pick a spot to use as your home base. In this blog post, we’ll tell you why Idaho Springs should be at the top of your list.
Best Things To Do In Idaho Springs
If you’re looking for a great getaway spot in the Colorado Rockies, you should definitely consider Idaho Springs.
There are plenty of things to do in Idaho Springs that may pique your fancy including hiking, skiing, and exploring the local history.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at 21 of the best activities and attractions Idaho Springs has to offer. As a Coloradan, we have spent our fair share of time exploring Idaho Springs and all of the things you can do. Here are a few of our favorites:
This is one for thrill seekers! Our absolute favorite activity and one of the most popular things to do in Idaho Springs is white water rafting. We went on a half-day rafting trip to Clear Creek Canyon and enjoyed every second of the exhilarating 8-miles of class III-IV rapids.
Although you’ll be concentrating hard on the twists and turns of the river, keep an eye out for big horn sheep, deer, river otters, and other Colorado wildlife.
This trip includes pick-up and drop-off in downtown Idaho Springs. They provide wetsuits, jackets, and helmets, too.
➡️ Click here to book the best white water rafting trip in Idaho Springs!
2. Hike To Saint Mary’s Glacier
Located just outside of Idaho Springs, hiking to St. Mary’s Glacier is a fun excursion for the whole family. This short 2.4-mile hike only takes 1 hour 45 minutes on average to complete, so it’s accessible to hikers of all levels.
The trek leads to a beautiful glacial lake with stunning views from the crest of the trail. There are also many great photo opportunities along the way. Dogs are also welcome on this hike, so your furry friend can enjoy the crisp mountain air, too.
Note: There is a $5 parking fee
3. Visit Argo Mill
Experience some of Idaho Springs’ rich history by visiting Mighty Argo Mill & Tunnel dating back to 1893. Built to drain water from local gold mines, the tunnel was a feat of engineering in its day, making mining activities much safer and easier.
During the tour, you will also visit the gold mine mill and learn interesting facts about Colorado’s Gold Rush, which started right here in Idaho Springs in 1859! You can even try your hand at panning for gold and other gems.
➡️ Get your vacation started – book an Argo Mill Tour by clicking here!
4. Gamble In Black Hawk
Another one of the best things to do near Idaho Springs is gambling in Black Hawk, the nearby town. Just a 20-minute drive away from Idaho Springs, you will find Black Hawk. This is the perfect place for those craving more nightlife or gambling thanks to its 15 licensed casinos and a vast selection of bars and restaurants.
Black Hawk offers both modern casinos and historic western-style casinos. So whether you’re an experienced card shark or you just want to take in the bright lights and music, you’re guaranteed to have a fun time at Black Hawk.
5. Climb To The Top of Mount Evans
If you’ve always wanted to sit at the top of a 14er, here’s a really easy-to-get-to one. By driving up the Mount Evans Byway, you’ll reach the Mount Evans National Recreation Trail, located between Idaho Springs and nearby Evergreen, Colorado.
You can reach the 14,265-foot summit of Mount Evans very easily, the trail is only 0.17 miles one-way. Due to the fantastic accessibility of this 14er though, the Mount Evans trail is heavily trafficked between June and September. But even with the crowds, you’ll still be rewarded with breathtaking views.
❗ Important note: The Mount Evans Byway is a seasonal road, usually open between late May and mid-October depending on weather conditions.
Expert tip: If you’re up for the challenge, you can start your hike further down the mountain like I did. The trail is 5.3 miles roundtrip, 2100 feet of elevation gain.
Another one of the most popular things to do in Idaho Springs is visiting Echo Mountain.
Located just 36 miles from downtown Denver, Echo Mountain is the closest ski resort to the city. Although it’s a relatively small resort with just 9 ski runs, Echo Mountain is a fun day out, any time of year.
During the winter months, it’s a great place for beginners to perfect their skiing or snowboarding skills. Then during the warmer months, you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and more.
We highly recommend grabbing a drink at Echo Mountain Lodge and watching the sunset over the Continental Divide and Idaho Springs below.
The Colorado Sky Trek is the perfect adventure activity for the whole family. The Sky Trek includes over 60 obstacles, including zip lines, to put your climbing skills to the test. There are 3 separate routes, so the course is accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
Climbers can reach heights up to 50+ feet, but there is no need to worry. You will be securely fastened to a safety wire at all times with a harness. The course is designed with a mining theme, so you can learn about local history while you soar through the treetops.
>> Book your Sky Trek Aerial Adventure and get your vacation started!
8. Go To A Show At Red Rocks
The world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre is just a 25-minute drive from Idaho Springs. So, we really recommend planning your trip around a concert you’d love to see.
Red Rocks is an open-air concert venue carved into stunning red rock formations. Not only is this the coolest-looking music venue in the world, but the natural acoustics bouncing off the rocks provide an incredible experience.
Even if there’s no concert taking place, you can still visit Red Rocks for the amazing atmosphere and views.
9. Fly Fishing
Idaho Springs is a great location for fly fishing because it offers great fishing opportunities and beautiful scenery. The rushing waters of Clear Creek and the Platte River offer prime fly fishing opportunities. The area offers a variety of fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and cutthroat trout.
Whether you’re an experienced fly fisher and visiting Idaho Springs on a fishing trip, or you’re a total beginner, we recommend Mt. Evans Trout Fishing. This is a beautiful, family-owned fishing spot operating since 1931. Fishing poles, bait, nets, and cleaning stations are all provided.
10. Visit Historic Downtown
While Idaho Springs is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Rockies with countless outdoor activities, this charming town itself should not be overlooked. Founded in 1859 during the Gold Rush, Idaho Springs is home to many historic buildings.
The main street in downtown Idaho Springs is called Miner Street, here you’ll find cute shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening. There are also several museums in town, including the Idaho Springs Heritage Museum.
11. Summit Mount Bierstadt
Here’s another one of the best things to do near Idaho Springs and another 14er for you. But unlike Mount Evans mentioned above, you’ll need to put in a little more effort to reach the 14,065-foot summit of Mount Bierstadt.
The trailhead is located in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area outside of Idaho Springs. This 7.8-mile out-and-back trail is considered pretty challenging with a 2,795 ft elevation gain and takes about 5 hours to complete. But it’s well worth the effort, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Rocky Mountains Front Range.
Note: It’s possible to summit Mount Bierstadt in the winter, too, but take caution because this is no walk in the park. Never hike alone and always thoroughly prepare before attempting.
12. Camp At Echo Lake Park
Located at the base of Mount Evans, Echo Lake Campground is situated in Arapaho National Forest along the shores of its namesake lake. It’s an ideal spot for outdoor enthusiasts with plenty of hiking and biking trails, fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing during the winter.
Echo Lake Campground has 18 sites, 11 for RVs and 7 for tents. Each site includes a table, fire grate, and tent pad. Just be sure to bring plenty of warm clothes even in the summer! Sitting at 10,600 feet on a mountain pass, this campground tends to have chilly nights.
13. Go Rock Climbing
If you’ve never tried rock climbing before, the Mount Evans Via Ferrata Climbing Experience is the perfect place to start.
Via Ferrata is a term coined in the Italian Alps and literally means “iron trail”, this is due to the iron elements required along the way such as ladders, bridges, and cables.
This fun climbing experience in Idaho Springs will take you high above Chicago Creek with zip lines and rappels. During this excursion, you’ll be completely safe with safety cables and harnesses, and your own expert guide. The course provides fantastic views of Idaho Springs and the creek below.
14. Ride ATVs
If you want to give your legs a rest from hiking, but don’t want to miss out on the fantastic scenery, why not book an ATV tour? Driving your own ATV through rugged mountain trails is an awesome way to explore.
You can book 2-hour tours for 2 people, no previous experience driving ATVs is required, and you’ll be fitted with helmets and gloves. Tours start and finish at Dumont, just a 7-minute drive away from Idaho Springs.
➡️ Book the best ATV tour in Idaho Springs here!
15. Torreys + Grays Peak – Summit Two 14ers At Once
If you’ve really got a taste for climbing 14ers near Denver, you can knock out two in one. This 8.1-mile out-and-back trail will take you over the summits of both Torreys Peak (14,275 feet) and Grays Peak (14,278 feet).
This hike is considered pretty challenging with a 3,622-foot elevation gain and usually takes people about 6-7 hours to complete.
But you will need a 4×4 vehicle to reach the trailhead! The start of the trail can only be reached by Stevens Gulch Road, which is unpaved, very rough, and often has washed-out sections and lots of mud. If you have a 2-wheel-drive vehicle with low clearance, you’ll need to park at the Bakerville Road parking lot – this will add 3 miles to your hike.
16. Ski At Loveland
If you’re visiting Idaho Springs during winter and want to hit the slopes, Loveland Ski Area is only a 25-minute drive away. Loveland offers 1,800 acres of pristine terrain, a fantastic lesson program for all ages and abilities, and free snowcat skiing along the Continental Divide.
Loveland also boasts more snow than any other Summit County or Front Range resort. The resort has a total of 9 lifts leading to 94 trails, and there are two separate base areas – Loveland Valley, more suitable for beginners, and Loveland Basin, the main area with a wide variety of runs.
17. Visit Phoenix Gold Mine
Located in a beautiful setting next to the Clear Creek River, Phoenix Gold Mine is a great place to spend the afternoon exploring. Visitors can take guided tours around this historical landmark and even walk through underground mines.
The talented tour guides will also teach you the art of panning for gold in the creek. Other local minerals you’ll come across are garnet, quartz, and pyrite. And the best part is, you can keep whatever you find – even a hunk of gold!
18. Grab A Beer
With over 400 breweries in the state, Coloradoans know about good beer. If you’ve had a long active day of adventuring, we highly recommend unwinding at Westbound & Down Brewing Company.
Located on the main street of Idaho Springs, this family-run brewery offers a welcoming vibe and great beer. A favorite spot amongst locals and tourists alike, its the perfect place to end a long day.
19. Try The Local Cuisine
Established in 2016, MTN Prime has really made a name for itself. This Colorado-grown steakhouse offers a high-end dining experience and a friendly atmosphere. MTN Prime only use fresh, local ingredients and they make everything in-house. They absolutely refuse to use any frozen or pre-prepared ingredients.
So, if you’ve spent hours hiking or tearing up the slopes, this is a great place to refuel with some Colorado home cooking. We highly recommend their bison meatloaf or Mediterranean chicken, for a lighter option.
20. Go On An Off-Road Jeep Tour
If you really want to embrace the mountain lifestyle, why not book an off-road jeep tour? During this 3-5 hour tour, you’ll be behind the wheel of your own jeep, cruising around scenic dirt roads in Clear Creek County.
Highlights include driving over Argentine Pass and St. Mary’s Glacier. You can customize the tour based on your own preferences and you’ll be given a radio, so you can have navigation support out in the wilderness.
21. Soak In The Hot Springs
Our list of best things to do in Idaho Springs would be incomplete without mentioning Indian Hot Springs.
This spa opened its doors in 1905 and has welcomed stars like Clint Eastwood and John Denver for the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs. But the Arapahoe Native Americans considered the springs to be sacred, long before Idaho Springs settlers discovered them.
At Indian Hot Springs you can enjoy the swimming pool fed by the hot natural mineral waters, with an average temperature of 90°F; and visit the full-service spa offering 10 different massages.
Is Idaho Springs Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Idaho Springs is a charming Colorado town full of history, outstanding scenery, and recreational opportunities. Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Idaho Springs was once a booming gold mining town.
Today, you can visit the remains of the mines and explore the charming Main Street district, which is home to restaurants, shops, and galleries. The surrounding area is also beautiful and offers plenty of outdoor adventure activities.
During the warmer months you can hike, bike, climb and swim to your heart’s content; then in the winter, you can enjoy the local ski resorts. Idaho Springs is also just a 45-minute drive from Denver, making it a convenient destination.
What Towns Are Close To Idaho Springs?
Just a 13-minute drive west of Idaho Springs, you’ll find Georgetown, another charming historical town. First settled in 1859, Georgetown was known as the “Silver Queen” for its abundant silver mines.
Today the town has just over 1,000 inhabitants, but it’s worth a visit to wander around the quaint shops and highly-rated restaurants. Georgetown’s main attraction is the Loop Railroad, here you can ride a historic train around the old mining district.
📍 Central City
A short drive 18 minutes northeast of Idaho Springs will take you to Central City, another historic mining town in the area. Founded in 1859, Central City is known for its downtown heritage buildings, thriving art scene, and casinos.
There are several museums and historical sites in Central City, and there are also plenty of restaurants and shops. The town is also home to the annual Central City Opera Festival, which is one of the largest opera festivals in the United States.
Nicknamed “The Gateway to the West”, Golden is a fantastic city located halfway between Idaho Springs and Denver. Like its sister towns mentioned above, Golden is also part of the Gold Rush history. Founded in 1859, it quickly became a center for mining and smelting.
Today, Golden is a welcoming small city of about 20,000 people with a lively downtown, full of museums, art galleries, restaurants, and bars. Golden is also home to the famous Coors Brewery.
Where To Stay In Idaho Springs, Colorado
Idaho Springs is a small town of about 1,800 people, so there isn’t a vast choice when it comes to accommodation options and places get booked up fast.
But here are the best places to stay in and around Idaho Springs, depending on your budget and preferences:
➡️ JC Suites
If you’re after a slightly more affordable option, JC Suites is a great option. Their updated suites are adorable. We stayed at one just like this in Salida, Colorado and it was a great experience.
JC Suites has air-conditioned rooms that vary in size. Whether you’re looking for a simple queen room or a studio with a balcony, you’ll find it here.
➡️ Secure the lowest accommodation prices at JC Suites by clicking here!
➡️ Ameristar Casino Resort & Spa
If you’re looking for more comfort and amenities, Ameristar Casino Resort & Spa in Black Hawk offers great accommodations at affordable rates. The hotel facilities include a gorgeous indoor swimming pool, fitness center, spa, and restaurant.
All rooms are modern and comfortable with a flat-screen TV, desk, ensuite bathroom, and complimentary toiletries. If you really want to go all out, you can upgrade your stay to a 4-star suite with a private hot tub and terrace.
The Wrap-Up: Best Things To Do In Idaho Springs 2024
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of the list!
Thank you for reading our blog post, we hope we’ve given you some fun ideas for your trip to Idaho Springs, Colorado.
Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure holiday, love investigating historical sites, or simply want to unwind in a hot tub at a beautiful mountain retreat, Idaho Springs has amazing activities for every type of traveler.