Welcome to Golden, Colorado!
If you live up in the mountains you know the transition between Fall to Winter can create a bit of cabin fever. It’s snowing but the coverage is just not enough to really be able to get out and take some turns or hit the Nordic areas either. We have a wonderful suggestion. Grab your girlfriends and head to Golden. This Colorado mountain town is like the goldilocks of shoulder season and early winter escapes. Not too cold, not too hot but just right and there is a ton of fun to be had.
The big difference between Golden and other Colorado mountain towns is that it is only minutes away from anywhere in Denver and it is just 5,675 feet high! It’s quick to access as you head down from Colorado’s Rocky Mountain thoroughfare I-70 too. Traffic, altitude, and attitude are all minimal in this sweet little town. Golden has preserved its small-town feel and the iconic 58-foot arch over Golden’s main street proclaiming “Howdy Folks! Welcome to Golden” shows they mean it.
Founded during the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859, the city of Golden is the Jefferson County seat and home to the world-famous Coors Brewery. Golden is the last Colorado mountain town you will encounter as you exit the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Clearly it is the first mountain as you exit Denver and is a gateway to fun and adventure. Golden was once the most powerful city in the state and the capital of the Colorado Territory. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was also built in Golden during the energy crisis of the 1970s.
Today, Golden is known for the Coors Brewery the Colorado School of Mines and is the seat of Jefferson County. Over the years, a variety of industries have thrived in Golden and has now become a hive of art, culture, entrepreneurship and is a foodies delight. The city has since expanded and remains a center for industry, education, and now tourism, with sites such as the kayak park at Clear Creek.
There are gorgeous mountain views in all directions. A river offering fly fishing, kayaking, and even gold panning flows through the center of town. There are more than 100 miles of hiking and biking trails, including the iconic climb up Lookout Mountain. There are colorful historic buildings from Colorado’s Gold Rush days lining their main thoroughfare with outdoor cafes, recreation stores, bike shops, galleries, and one-of-kind boutiques. And of course, this being Colorado, there are a half dozen breweries and distilleries with outdoor beer gardens and food trucks.
Here are some getaway suggestions to do in this sweet mountain town:
1. Bike, Paddle or Stroll
Clear Creek flows right through the center of Golden with a paved trail running alongside it. This lovely Creekside trail runs 11.8 miles east to Denver and continues west of Golden up into the foothills. The creek has award-winning manmade whitewater features perfect for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, and the upper stretches are renowned fly-fishing spots. Clear Creek has a good population of small to mid-sized rainbow and brown trout and abundant bug life.4.
Take a Free Bike Ride, the Golden Bike Library (located conveniently behind the Golden Visitor Center on the banks of Clear Creek) has bikes available for free two-hour rentals, Pedal down the Clear Creek Bike Path, or try the more challenging 5-mile mountain-bike loop that circles North Table Mountain.
2. Hike the Old West
Blocks away from the main drag is the Golden History Park, a re-creation of an authentic frontier homestead with a barn, farmhouse and outbuildings, all in a spectacular setting. Stop and feed the chickens and check out two nearby hikes that visit old farmsteads. White Ranch Park has beautiful hiking and mountain-biking trails that lead to an old farm nestled in a valley, while nearby Golden Gate Canyon State Park has many trails that pass historic log cabins.
3. Bike or Drive up the Lariat Loop Trail
From downtown Golden to the top of Lookout Mountain is an iconic Colorado stretch of road and boasts majestic views that stretch from Wyoming to New Mexico. This road, which gains 1,300-feet in just 4.3 miles, featured twice in the US Pro Challenge and ridden by the world’s top cyclists, is one of the classic bike rides in the state. It’s also one of the state’s best scenic drives, peaking at the 7,379-foot summit of Lookout Mountain with 360-degree views. It’s just a short walk from the free parking lot on top to Buffalo Bill’s Museum & Grave. Stop and learn about the famous Old West scout and showman, put a penny on his scenic grave and don’t miss the giant gift shop If you’re looking for true Colorado souvenirs this place is for you.
4. Enjoy Lunch, Dinner, Beer and Distilled Beverages
After a climb, hike bike or stroll, you might need some sustenance. And what could be better than three free beers? The fascinating tour of Coors Brewery (the largest single brewing site in the world) takes you past endless copper kettles and into the packaging plant and ends with a chance to taste three free glasses of their various beers. More of a craft beer person? There are six craft breweries in Golden, three in downtown within walking distance of Coors. There are also more than two dozen restaurants. Join the locals at Woody’s Pizza, head to D’Deli to grab a delicious sandwich or check out the new Tributary Food Hall offering eight unique eateries to choose from. You can eat in the old capital, the state’s first capitol building is now a restaurant and bar, The Old Capitol Grill & Smokehouse.
5. Learn the History of Mountaineering
The Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum is fantastic. It is the first and only museum in the United States dedicated to mountaineering. Whether you are thinking about summiting your first 14’er or you have climbed a dozen this is the place to star
6. Ride a Train
Colorado is famous for its narrow-gauge steam railroads, but you don’t have to drive across the state to see them. The Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden has a half-mile of circular track and they fire up their steam locomotives and give everyone the thrill of riding a genuine steam train all year long.
Clear Creek Canyon offers some of the best rock climbing in Colorado. It is largely known for sport climbs with some trad climbs interspersed. The rock varies from gneiss and schist to a sandy granite with a variety of ratings.
8. Eat Alfresco
Some of the best patios include the Golden Hotel’s Bridgewater Grill, which has a sweeping patio overlooking Clear Creek; the Table Mountain Grill & Cantina, which has a flower-lined deck and a great view of South Table Mountain; and New Terrain Brewery, which has food trucks and rests at the base of North Table Mountain. The newly renovated Buffalo Rose, an authentic American West saloon and restaurant, has a retractable ceiling and stylish outdoor seating..
9. Outfit Your Next Mountain Expedition
Golden has one of the greatest and most concentrated collections of outdoor recreation stores around. There are shops devoted to hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, fishing, camping, backpacking and hunting.
10. Stay in a great hotel or bed and breakfast
There are a variety of places to stay in Golden. The Table Mountain Inn and Golden Hotel are two fantastic hotels compete with restaurants and amenities, Dove Inn and other boutique B&B’s to choose from. We recently stayed at the Dove Inn and made it our base camp. The relaxed vibe of this recently restored old Victorian home makes you feel like you’re at home.
And we know it is a cliche but the shopping is fantastic. There are unique finds along Washington Avenue. We love Baby Doe’s Clothing and the Spinster Sister’s Co. shop. Icelantic Skis has a great little retail shop alongside their corporate offices and we love Bent Gate Mountaineering. Art galleries, jewelry, toy stores housed in the historic buildings along Washington Avenue. Getaway with friends, family or alone. Golden, Colorado is the perfect retreat. www.visitgolden.com
by Gaynia Battista
Mountain Women Magazine | A magazine for Women filled with a passion for living life in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and beyond.
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