Saturday, August 31, 2013

Old and New Gold Mines Driving Tour

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  Gold is still being mined in Cripple Creek and Victor except now instead of underground mines the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company is slowly removing the mountain truckload by truckload. The rock is crushed and the gold is leached out using a sodium cyanide solution. In twelve years they’ve recovered 4 million ounces of gold.

  A fifteen mile loop will take you around the entire new mine, past old mining sites with trails and interpretive signs, and to a view point high above the new mine pit. The main roads are paved. The short spurs to the parking lots and the road to American Eagles Scenic Overlook are dirt. The parking lots are small but still large enough for RVs, except for the handicapped parking lot at the overlook which is only big enough for vans or very small RVs.
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  Many of the old structures can be seen from the parking lots or the road. There have been attempts to make the first sections of the trails accessible but wheelchair users may still need to have help because of grades and loose stones. Some trails may be closed due to old and new hazards caused by the mines.  Maps
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Cripple Creek Jail Museum

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   Gunfights, card sharks, red light districts and common thievery – every gold mining town had plenty of crime and a need for a sturdy jail. This jail was built in 1901, two stories of prefab metal cells surrounded by a red brick building. It was closed in 1992. Each tiny cell could house up to six inmates who slept in double tiers of hammocks that attached to hooks in the walls and used every inch of space. Photographs and informative signs tell the stories of the most notorious criminals and also the minor crimes and sometimes funny laws. Visitors can dress in striped suits or pose for mug shots.
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  The museum is not accessible due to a  set of steps at the entrance and steps to the second tier of cells.

  RVs can be parked along the street.  Museum
38.74634, -105.1821
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Antero Reservoir South Shore Campground

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  Most of the people camping at the reservoir come to fish. It’s stocked with trout which grow pretty big due to the warm, shallow water. No swimming or wading is allow because the reservoir is part of the Denver Water Company. The campground has tables, fire rings, trash cans and vault toilets. Some sites have shelters to block the sun and wind. A two week stay is permitted then campers must leave for seven days but may return for another two weeks. And it’s free!

  None of the sites are marked as accessible but most are usable. The ground is hard packed sandy dirt. The pedestal tables make it easy to pull up underneath. The toilets are all accessible but some have a little step up to the concrete pad.  Campground
38.97609, -105.89549
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

South Park City Museum

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  Thirty-five historic buildings, along with seven more recently constructed ones, have been gathered together to form a 1880’s mining town. Some  are furnished as they would have been at that time and others are little museums with displays and artifacts. A film crew from France, working on a documentary about Calamity Jane, was on the site the day that we visited so we got to watch the action. In reality a lot of waiting as scenes were being set up for just a few minutes of filming!
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Almost all of the buildings have one or two steps at the entrance so the museum is not accessible.

The parking lot is big enough for vans and small RVs. Large RVs can park along the street.  Museum
39.22499, -106.00372
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guanella Pass Scenic Byway

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  This 22 mile byway connects Georgetown to Grant and climbs to 11,669 feet. Driving the byway is not recommended for vehicles with more than a 17’ wheelbase due to tight turns on the switchbacks. The road has been improved and paved from Georgetown to the summit. After the summit the pavement is deteriorated in spots and the last 3.6 miles are dirt.  A trail at the summit leads to one of Colorado’s fourteeners making it a very popular destination for hikers. The parking lots fill on the weekends with many people parking along the side of the road.
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  A very short trail at the second parking lot near the summit is  accessible with help. The worse part is at the beginning where large loose gravel makes pushing very difficult. The gravel also makes it hard to access the vault toilets.
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   Several small campgrounds are located along the pass. There are also many opportunities for dispersed camping although most are suitable for tents only. The north side of the pass has something that we’ve never encountered. Small paved pullouts are provided for tent campers to park their cars then carry their equipment to flat, shaded areas under the trees. The south side of the pass also has dispersed camping along the road but the sites are drive in and very rough. We found a beautiful spot just off of a dirt spur road. All camping spots fill on the weekends. Byway
39.59706, -105.71214
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Georgetown Energy Museum

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  During the early days of electricity many small hydro-electric plants were built to provide power to mines and the towns that grew up around them but few are still in operation. This one has been supplying power since 1900 and provides enough electricity for 700 houses. Visitors can view the generators, old electrical appliances and displays about electricity.

  The building has steps up to the entrance so it’s not accessible. The interior is accessible with ramps at all of the steps which doesn’t make a lot of sense without an accessible entrance.

The parking areas are large enough for vans and small RVs. Larger RVs can be parked along Griffith Street. Sixth Street is narrow and busy so use one of the other streets to get to Griffith if you have a large RV.  Museum
39.70598, -105.69514
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Heritage Museum and Visitor Center

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  George Jackson discovered gold at Idaho Springs in 1859 while panning in Chicago Creek. The discovery started the Colorado gold rush. This nicely done little museum explains the different methods for mining gold and also has displays covering other aspects of Idaho Springs history.

Everything is accessible.

The parking lot is large enough for any RV. Parking is also available along the street. Museum
39.74219, -105.50939
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Idaho Springs Farmers Market

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  A small farmer’s market with one line of booths strung out along the sidewalk at Cooper Park. Venders include a local farm with a good variety of produce, crafts and homemade goodies.

  The sidewalk is in good shape so rolling is easy.

  Plenty of parking along the street. Market
39.7423, -105.50827
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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  The wide variety of subjects covered in the exhibit halls of this museum make it interesting for visitors of all ages. The museum has more than 90 mounted animal dioramas, something that we don’t like much because most of the time the animals have been needlessly killed for trophies. However they have been superbly mounted in lifelike poses  and the background scenery paintings are excellent. We spent hours looking through the other exhibits in the rest of the museum.

  The museum is accessible. The only exhibit that is difficult to see is the one with Konovalenko’s folk art carvings made with gem stones and minerals. The display cases are too high making it hard to view the entire sculpture.

  Small RVs and vans will fit in the parking lot backed up over the grass. Parking is available along the street by the park if your RV is too big. Weekends may be very busy with no open parking spots anywhere.  Museum
38.79887, -107.72199
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lafayette Miners Museum

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  Conditions in the coal mines in Colorado in the early 1900s often led to violence between the owners of the mines and the workers who wanted better wages and living conditions. This little house, where coal miner William E. Lewis and his family lived, was a meeting place for striking miners and was often the target of gunfire. It now houses exhibits and artifacts about mining and life in early Lafayette.

  The museum is partly accessible. A ramp leads to the entrance. The threshold is a little high. A large piece of furniture at the entrance to one room makes it impossible to enter with a wheelchair. The enclosed back porch is down a step.

   Parking is on the street with enough room for RVs. Museum
39.99816, -105.08945
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Boulder Museum of Contempory Art

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  This is a very small museum with no permanent exhibits. If you go to the Boulder Farmer’s Market on Saturday stop in at the museum because it’s right next door and free on Saturdays.

  The museum is accessible. An elevator goes to the second floor and a lift provides access to a room that is down a few steps.

Several lots on 14th Street that are permit parking only during the week are free and opened for everyone on the weekends. There may not be room for RVs if the market is busy. Museum
40.01509, -105.27744
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Lafayette Peach Festival

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  The festival has everything that a small town celebration should have – lots of crafts, face painting, live music, and food booths but we were really there just for the peaches. Tree ripened, juicy, sweet, organic peaches –yum!
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  Eight blocks of Public Street are closed for the festival which makes for easy rolling but it does get crowded.

   RVs can be parked along  the side streets. A limited amount of handicapped parking is located at the VFW parking lot at 105 W. Emma Street, 1/2  block west of Public Street.  Festival
39.99716, -105.09044 
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Moose and a Rubber Tramp

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   Not a real moose but a real rubber tramp. ;- ) We spent a couple of enjoyable days in the parking lot of the Moose Lodge in Longmont, Colorado visiting with another member of the CheapRving family. Tim has been fulltime RVing for several years and after spending the summer stationary is about to embark on an adventure through some of the nation’s most spectacular national parks. Check out his blog!

  Besides the fun of visiting Tim we also had  the opportunity to enroll as members of the lodge. This is something that we’ve been considering for awhile because many lodges have small RV parks or allow members to stay overnight in the lodge parking lots. I haven’t been able to find a comprehensive site with all of the lodges that have camping and overnight parking  but here’s a list of the ones that have camping facilities. Lodges not listed may allow members to stay overnight even if they don’t have campgrounds. Just call and ask. Lodges

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

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  Lions and tigers and bears! Almost all of the hundreds of animals at the sanctuary were rescued from deplorable conditions. The sanctuary differs from a zoo because visitors stay on a walkway high above the enclosures which puts less stress on the animals. It was hot the day that we visited and although we saw most of the animals a lot of them looked like this -
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  The sanctuary has an ADA compliant ramp up to the walkway but it’s at a different location than the main entrance. We were not given the opportunity to use this ramp. The ramp that we did use is extremely steep. The ramp down to the ticket desk is also very steep. The walkway itself is wide, level, and smooth.
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  RVs must park in a separate lot. Passengers may be dropped off at the main parking lot. The person driving the RV will be given a ride back to the main lot by an employee. No one is allowed walk on the sanctuary roads. Sanctuary
40.02768, -104.55906
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