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Top Unique Experiences In Southern Colorado

August 23, 2011 7:12 AM

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(credit: cripplecreekrailroad.com)

(credit: cripplecreekrailroad.com)

For many, just the word “Colorado” can conjure up images of the Old West. Cowboys sitting around a campfire after a long day of herding cattle, prospectors plotting their next great find, and saloons serving up a thirsty crowd are easily imagined by visitors curious to learn about the regions not-so-distant past.

Western Museum of Mining and Industry

225 North Gate Blvd.
Colorado Springs CO 80921
(800) 752-6558
wmmi.org
More than 4,000 artifacts chronicling the rich mining history of Colorado and the American West are on display at the Western Museum of Mining and History. It is housed on a 27-acre indoor/outdoor site on the northern border of Colorado Springs, just across from the north gate of the Air Force Academy. The museum offers rotating exhibits as well as constants focusing on mine reclamation, a stamp mill reproduction, and a classic 1894 Queen Anne Farmhouse among others. For the kids, the museum is home to Oro and Nugget, a pair of small donkeys who represent the role that the animals played in helping early prospectors to the region. Interactive activities are also offered throughout the year, such as gold panning (keep what you find!) and outdoor machinery demonstrations which will entertain the entire family.

Flying W Ranch

3330 Chuckwagon Road
Colorado Springs CO 80919
(800) 232-3599
flyingw.com
Nothing screams the Old West quite like an authentic chuck wagon dinner, which is what the Flying W Ranch has been serving up since 1953. An actual working ranch nestled in the foothills on the west side of Colorado Springs, dinner at the Flying W Ranch comes complete with a Western Stage Show performed by the Flying W Wranglers — the second oldest western singing group around. Voted one of the “Top Ten Places to Experience uniquely American Food” by Forbes magazine in 2009, the Flying W Ranch can serve up to 1,000 people during the peak summer months. The ranch is much more than amazing barbecue and homemade biscuits, however. Visitors are also able to experience the Western Village, a series of 12 buildings reproducing a small western town, including the Adobe Jail, the old schoolhouse and a working blacksmith shop where horses still get prepared for a long day driving cattle.

cripple creek victor narrow gauge railroad Top Unique Experiences In Southern Colorado

(credit: cripplecreekrailroad.com)

Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad

520 East Carr Avenue
Cripple Creek, CO 80813
(719) 689-2640
cripplecreekrailroad.com
The rise of the Old West came with the expansion of the railroads toward the Pacific, brought with them ambitious prospectors following the scent of gold. Cripple Creek was one of Colorado’s booming destinations, and a trip on the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad takes visitors back in time when the population of this small town peaked at nearly 50,000 people, all with their hearts set on riches. A 15 ton locomotive takes visitors on a four mile, 45-minute ride south, past the old Midland Terminal over a reconstructed trestle, past many historic mines and terminates near the deserted mining camp of Anaconda before returning back to the historic 1894 depot. As the steam rises from the smokestacks of the old iron horse, riders are taken back in time to the glory days of Colorado’s Gold Belt.

Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame & Museum of the American Cowboy

101 Pro Rodeo Drive
Colorado Springs CO 80919
(719) 528-4764
prorodeohalloffame.com
Established in 1979, the Pro Rodeo Hall of fame chronicles “America’s Original Sports” as it developed from trail rides and ranching into the contemporary stadium spectacle that it is today. In Heritage Hall visitors experience the many evolutions of rodeo, along with the development of gear, equipment, and clothing, while the Hall of Champions houses memorabilia from the over 160 inductees of the Hall of Fame.

- By Kory Kilmer for CBSDenver.com

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