Remember when I said I wanted to have all 4 parts of the Mining Road Trip series done by the end of 2020? Oh how times have changed right? Unfortunately life just gets in the way of fun sometimes! Fortunately, one of my friends recently got an awesome job in Colorado and allows me to drag her to all these crazy places, so I was able to complete bits and pieces of Part 2 over the last few months! I still haven't crossed EVERYTHING off of my MRT2 bucket list, so we will just call this blog post an update and work in progress!
As I said- MRT2 is a work in progress. Instead of doing it in one loop, I've had to complete it in several trips, and I'm still working on it! If I was able to complete it in one loop though, it would end up being about 1,561 miles and over 30 hours of driving. You can see the full downloadable map and itinerary for MRT2 HERE!
Route & Stops
The great thing about this route is that you have the option to go through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks if you had extra time, neither are that far out of the way! I'd recommend flying into Billings or Bozeman Montana for this trip, or starting in Cody, Wyoming. Places in Bold and Underlined are ones I have visited, the others are on my "still to complete" list.
1.Cody, Wyoming - Cody itself is a pretty interesting town and a great place to start the trip! Check out the various cowboy stops, fuel up, and head out from here!
2. Wyoming Dinosaur Center- located in Thermopolis. This isn't a "mining" stop, but a great get out of the car point! Thermopolis also has several hot springs, so it's a great place to stay the night and relax!
3. Ouray, Colorado- I still have not figured out how to pronounce this, but by the time I get there I promise I will learn! This town was on the list of the Top 10 mining towns, so it's on this list! While there be sure to check out the Bachelor Syracuse Mine Tour and hop down to Silverton to the Old Hundred Gold Mine Tour.
4. St. Elmo Ghost Town- This is another place that was on the original list, and it has come highly recommended by a ton of my connections! Take a look around, a short hike, or even consider camping in the area!
5. Leadville, Colorado- Another town on the original list, and based on what I've heard you can't consider yourself a mining geek until you have been! Leadville reminds me so much of Butte, and it's a great stop even if you're only kind of into mining. Stop by the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, hike or bike the Mineral Belt Trail, or go for a drive to check out the many headframes and abandoned mines in the area! Currently the Mining Hall of Fame has a Women in Mining exhibit that is really great!
6. Cripple Creek, Colorado- This looks a little out of the way on the downloadable map, but I promise it's worth it! The major bucket list item in the area is the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine tour, which I can't seem to time right but I promise it's on my list! There are a ton of fun museums around, overlooks into the mining operation there, hiking trails that get you up close to old preserved headframes, and of course a lot of casinos.
7. Argo Gold Mine & Mill Tour- As you head up this direction I have heard that Silver Plume and the Georgetown Loop Railroad are worth stopping for, so I have added them to the map! One place we did stop was the Argo Mine & Mill. This was a fun tour and museum! They have put a lot of detail and signs up, and the guides were very knowledgeable. I love the reclamation that has been done as well with the water treatment plant to show what mining is doing to clean up the historic messes!
8. Central City, Colorado- This was another place on the original list! While I didn't make it up there (yet), I have heard it's a great stop with a few cool mines in the area!
Those are the main stops on this section of the route! I'd recommend heading up through Casper and maybe hopping off to see Devils Tower or Mount Rushmore if you came from the Billings or Bozeman direction. If you flew into Denver, you can cut out the Wyoming parts easily and just stop right there after the loop!
There's still a lot to do on this list that I am slowly working on, what are some places you would add?