Spent a week at Chief Hosa Campground in Golden, CO, and fell fast and hard for this gold mine of a town. There were so many things to do in this historic small town, but stumbling upon the Five Star Baking Gluten Free Company just off of Washington Street was an unexpected treat.
For twenty years, I’ve been extremely sensitive to ingesting wheat and dairy, as well as developing severe reactions to every day products like perfumes, latex, and cigarette smoke. I can’t tell you the last time I even entered a bakery, yet this bakery case was filled with goodies I could choose from. The difficult decision came down to carrot cake to devour then and there, and a double chocolate brownie to share with my son at a later date. After an extended visit to my home a few years ago, he called to ask “What was different about my diet while I was there? My skin rash has cleared up, and I feel so much better.” He’s been pretty much wheat and lactose-free since, and looks and feels terrific.
You’ve got to love a town where a river runs through it. This photo was taken from a bridge on busy Washington Street which spans Clear Creek. Folks rented inner tubes and put-in near the library, then leisurely floated downstream, right through the heart of Golden.
Like many Colorado towns I’ve visited, this one was an integrated mix of old and new. Murals depicting a dependence on the railroad cover the exterior walls of this building near the historic old theatre, which now houses several businesses including a yoga studio. Starbucks is kitty corner to this building, and I enjoyed an excellent lunch of Drunken Noodles at the newly opened Maki Sushi next door.
On another outing, I impulsively followed the brown directional sign from I70 to Lookout Mountain, and spent an entire day basking in the incredible views of Golden, Denver, including this narrow passage through the mountains. Many dozens of bicyclists toiled up the mountain, then zipped past my truck on the way back down.
After winding my way up the mountain, I stopped at the Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve and Boettcher Mansion. Both are free to enter and explore. The Boettcher family was prominent in the Denver industrial era, and built their summer home on top of Lookout Mountain. Their granddaughter bequeathed the vast estate to be used as a public facility, library and nature preserve. It is also used as a wedding and meeting venue.
The Roycroft stamped furniture stopped me in my tracks, as I once lived adjacent to the Roycroft Inn and Campus, home of Elbert Hubbard who contributed greatly to the Arts & Crafts movement. The mansion’s original furnishings had been removed by the family, but these reproductions included the same finely stenciled motifs and beautiful lines that said Roycroft.
Outside, there was a large sustainably built interpretive center next door. It was full of Mom’s and tots on this day, so I skipped the indoor exhibits and asked the guide to point me to some trails. This outdoor gazebo looks into the woods and fields that surround the estate.
There were two loop trails to choose from, and I walked them both. One led through a wooded pine forest, and the other into a meadow dotted with wildflowers. Both were fairly level and easy to traverse. Beyond the front gate and across Colorow Road was another dirt path, with several overlooks.
This is a view of Golden from one of the overlooks. Denver is tucked just behind the right side of this mesa. Further down the road, excellent views of the Denver skyline are within view.
Winding my way along the road, there were signs for the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum and gravesite. The historic showman lived his last years in Denver with his wife, and requested he be buried up on Lookout Mountain. Apparently, the folks in Cody, WY felt his wish was to buried in their town, and tried to dig up the body. Eventually, the graves of Bill and his wife were covered in a thick layer of cement, surrounded by a black iron fence, and they were allowed to rest in peace.
The museum costs $5 for adults, and took 30-40 minutes to wander through, including a short movie on the history of Buffalo Bill. One of the members of his troupe viewed him as a surrogate father, and vowed to commemorate him via this collection of artifacts. It was a little cheesy, but if you like wild west memorabilia, you’ll enjoy your visit. There is a large diner (homemade vegetable soup and French fries were delicious) and gift shop on the premises.
This is the view from the museum grounds. Adjacent is Lookout Mountain State Park, if picnicking is your preferred way to lunch and you’d like to skip the commercial attractions.
In a separate blog on things to do in Denver, I’ll describe the Prehistoric Journey wing at the Denver Nature and Science Museum as my favorite part. It was made possible by a large donation by the Boettcher Family mentioned above, and ignited my interest in the dinosaur fossils found in this area of Colorado. Did you know that the first Allosaurus and Stegosaurus skeletons were discovered right here?
On a third trip to town. I checked out Dinosaur Ridge in nearby Morrison, CO. The large, fake dinosaurs on the grounds did nothing for me, but little kids seemed to enjoy them. Following the advice on the website, I sprang for the $6 guided bus tour, and was glad I had. Our guide “Rock Doc” was personable, funny, and quite well versed on the history of the fossils located on the grounds.
Ten of us tourists from various countries marveled at the humongous footprint “bumps” discovered in a layer of rock from 100 million years ago, and at this fossilized leg bone. But the most impressive (and difficult to photograph) site was a slanted wall of rock containing mama and baby dinosaur tracks, along with a crocodile of some sort, and a three-toed creature. The tracks were distinctive and went on for a while. It’s not hard to believe this land of shifting stone was once the home of entirely different species.
Golden was so much fun to explore, and I’m sure I didn’t get to see half of what it has to offer. More reason to stop back here again another time.