Golden, Colorado Where The West Lives
Getting cabin fever? Surely the weatherman will forecast some sunny days in the near future. Choose one and take a drive to Golden. With a population of only about 18,000, Golden still plays host to many attractions and serves as the county seat of Jefferson County.
Approximately 40 miles from Lyons, begin your city tour with a stop at the Visitor’s Center on the southwest corner of 10th and Washington. Their volunteers gladly answer questions as well as provide maps, directions, free local attraction pamphlets, and recommendations. Peruse all the information while you sit on the shady, side patio where you might view kayakers on Clear Creek, although not in winter.
Separated from Denver by North and South Table Mountain mesas and nestled against the Rocky Mountains, you can shop and dine in downtown Victorian era buildings amid stunning mountain scenery. A brief history of Golden can be found at www.golden.com/history.htm. A list of city highlights follows.
Golden History Center
923 10th Street
Before you go, log onto to their website to plan your trip. Tour the Astor House, an 1800s boarding house, then walk the Clear Creek History Park which recreates a ranch of the same era with house, gardens, blacksmith shop, schoolhouse, and even a chicken coop. Learn what life was like in Golden’s early days.
Clear Creek Historic Park cuts through downtown. Log onto the Golden Landmarks Association’s website at www.goldenlandmarks.com/, then click on Historic Buildings. Prepare a walking tour made up of your personal list of buildings. Include time for lunch and shopping. A trip plan can also be developed from Rich Gardner’s historic tour website, www.gardnerhistory.com/downtown/. Here, discover more historic information and buildings listed by age.
Coors Brewery Tour
13th and Ford Streets
Just two blocks east of the downtown shopping area sits the world’s largest brewery now known as MillerCoors. Winter tours are Thursday through Mondays. Since the buyout, tours are self-guided with a 30 minute audio which explains malting, brewing and processing. Samples are provided in a refrigerated room while you sit on ice cube benches. Call 303-277-2337 to obtain operating hours or look on the website. Those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and all adults must show a government issue ID.
National Renewable Energy Lab Visitor’s Center
15013 Denver West Parkway
For about 30 years this laboratory has specialized in solar, wind, biomass, and other forms of sustainable energy. They developed products now found for the average consumer at local Home Depots. The center is only open weekdays, 9-5.
Colorado Railroad Museum
17155 W. 44th Avenue
The main floor of the depot style museum holds rare old photographs, artifacts and documents. But, downstairs take in the “Denver and Western” large operating model train exhibit. A general store presents souvenirs for all ages. The 15-acre grounds house various kinds of tracks, a three-way stub switch, and century-old switch stands. Narrow and standard gauge locomotives and cars allow photo opportunities. Watch some trains travel a 1/3-mile oval on three-foot gauge track.
Colorado School Of Mines
1500 Illinois Street
The university is a public research school devoted to engineering and applied sciences with the highest admissions standards of any public university in the US. On their website find information about the Geology Museum.
Buffalo Bill Gravesite And Museum
987½ Lookout Mountain Road
No visit to Golden is complete without a stop at Buffalo Bill’s grave.
Make a Golden destination day-trip or several short targeted visits. Whichever you choose, a fun time awaits you filled with historic learning opportunities. Enjoy!