This road is one of the most scenic and historic drives in Colorado. The route increases in elevation from 5,500 to 9,500 feet and offers the chance to see a wide range of plants and wildlife in their natural setting.
The gravel road follows the route of the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad built in 1894 as a connection from Florence to the goldfields of Cripple Creek and Victor.
The unique bridges and tunnels offer a visual link to the area's historic past.
The road condition and narrow bridges encourage people to slow down and view the scenery.
Twelve stations were established along the F&CC Railroad grade to service the trains hauling coal and supplies upgrade and gold ore downgrade to Florence's smelters.
As you drive the route, interpretive displays and signs designate the historic sites along the Gold Belt Line.
Mining Past and Present
Between Cripple Creek and Victor are the remnants of hundreds of historic mines and an operating modern gold mine. Over 500 mines once operated in the district, each with its own colorful past.
At the Cresson Mine on November 24, 1914, miners uncovered a large chamber with walls completely covered in gold crystals as large as thumbnails. The owners installed vault doors, and armed guards escorted the ore to the mills.
Today's gold mining operation focuses on removing and concentrating gold from low grade ore that was not able to be processed efficiently with historic mining methods. Large amounts of rock are crushed and treated with a dilute cyanide solution to remove any remaining gold.
This process is known as heap leaching. The Mining District is primarily on private land. For your safety, please stay on public roads.
*All services are available only at either end of the route.
Historical photo courtesy of Cañon City Municipal Museum