Tucked in the foothills, twenty minutes from downtown is another downtown, another capital of Colorado: Golden. Once upon a time, in the 1860’s it was the Territorial capital. I always thought it was named “Golden” because of the mines but it’s actually named for the founder Thomas L. Golden who set the first stakes in 1859 at the height of the Pikes Peak gold rush. It’s a pretty little town nestled in a valley between two large mountains and Clear Creek makes its way through town, too. The streets are tree-lined which host cute Victorian or Arts and Crafts bungalows which have been lovingly preserved.
Golden is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with miles of hiking and biking trails in and out of town; rock climbing on the Golden Cliffs and creek sports like kayaking, fly fishing and toobin’, plus the American Mountaineering Society is based in Golden. If you didn’t bring your gear there are plenty of places to rent bicycles and toobs. Unfortunately, the waterways are a little low this year so the kayaking isn’t great and a lot of the creek is walking with your gear rather than shooting the rapids with your gear. But it’s still a pretty stream and you can fish off the banks or just sit and relax, watching the water eddy and flow. The latter is my favorite water sport.
It’s also a brainy little town and home to the National Earthquake Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and The Colorado School of Mines which is our little MIT. If you’re a Western history buff it’s the perfect stop to explore very early Colorado history on the Triceratops trail just outside of town. For more recent history, you can take a trek up Lookout Mountain and pay your respects to Buffalo Bill Cody.
Did I mention the beer? Lots and lots of beer because Golden is home to Coors Brewing Company. Even though it’s the largest brewery in the country it doesn’t intrude on Golden’s natural beauty. I was expecting a big industrial complex that was a blot on the pretty valley. But it somehow doesn’t intrude on Golden’s natural beauty. The tour takes about forty-five minutes and lands you in the fresh beer tasting room. The cost of all this learning and tasty cold refreshment? Flashing your ID proving you’re old enough to imbibe in the great state of Colorado! It’s free! But please don’t climb the Golden Cliffs after the tour.