My mother insists I am trying to kill her. For some reason, every time she comes to Colorado to visit we go on a mine tour. She says it is some unconscious effort to put her in the ground. Maybe she is right. Finding new and exciting thing to do with friends and family that visit can be tricky, and we tend to take advantage of doing things we would not necessarily do on our own without them.
Mine tours can be a lot of fun if you find the right one. And Colorado has an abundance of them. The two closest to Denver are the Argo Mine in Idaho Springs and the mine along the Georgetown Loop in Georgetown. If you are looking for a good mining tour close to Denver, these are the two to check out.
Drive Time: 40 Minutes
This is an excellent start to mine tours and is a short, 40-minute drive up to Idaho Springs. The massive, red, 5-story-high mill of the Argo Mine is visible from I-70 can’t be missed. This tour is great for all ages, especially the younger ones. The tour begins with a short talk about the facility and the history of mining in the area. The underground portion consist of a ride up the mountain to the small shaft of the Double Eagle mine that goes back a couple hundred feet. The big item here is the main Argo Mill and the panning afterwards. Argo Mine is a great family friendly add-on to a day trip to Idaho Springs. Afterwards head into Idaho Springs where you can do some small-town shopping, get a beer at Tommy Knockers, and pizza at Beau Jo’s.
Drive Time: 50 Minutes
Compared to the Argo, this is a much more exciting tour compared to the Argo. The Georgetown Loop has been the best we have done so far. The railroad trip itself is a bit unremarkable for adults, but the children on the trip really enjoyed it. The trip starts with historic Georgetown where you will find excellent shops and some small cafes. The train tour takes you across the mountain over to Silverplume. It is a great ride through the woods pulled behind an authentic, steam-powered locomotive. After a short rest stop in Silverplume, the train heads back to Georgetown. About halfway back is the mining tour portion. The tours will add $15 to $20 to your price and is worth the extra cash to tour the facilities dating back to the 1800’s. In fact, the Georgetown Loop is not worth it without the mining tour. We took the Lebanon Mine Extended Tour. The shaft runs nearly 1,000 feet under I-70 (more accurately I-70 goes over the mine). The guides are knowledgeable and the tour is not just a short walk down a hole in the ground. There is enough interaction that you get a good feeling about how grueling the work can actually be. The area also has several buildings and exhibits to walk through and explore in the picturesque setting. And just like the Argo Mine Tour, once you are done with Georgetown head into Idaho Springs for that shopping, beer, and pizza.