Arguably one of the most famous Colorado mountain towns, there are plenty of things to do in Idaho Springs. This tiny town packs quite a punch, from awesome eateries to high-flying zip lines.
A lot of people opt to visit Idaho Springs and the surrounding areas for the day or use it as a pit stop on the way back from other mountain adventures.
Located just 40 minutes from Denver, it’s an excellent option for a quick jaunt into the high country.
I’ve lived in Colorado for almost 15 years, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to Idaho Springs. I live in the town next door, so it’s common for me to pop over and enjoy some of the many things to do in Idaho Springs throughout my week. So if you’re looking to travel like a local, not a tourist, then you’re in the right spot.
About this Guide to Idaho Springs
Inside this local guide to amazing Idaho Springs activities you’ll find:
- A map of Idaho Springs
- The local’s tips on the best times to visit
- Things to do in Idaho Springs, organized by season
- Additional local Colorado travel resources
Where is Idaho Springs?
Idaho Springs is conveniently located right off of I-70 about 40 minutes west of Denver. It’s located in Clear Creek County, making it an ideal day trip from Denver. You can also click here for the full map.
The Best Time to Visit Idaho Springs
You can visit Idaho Springs year-round and there’s something to entertain yourself. No matter what time of year you visit, the best time to avoid crowds in Idaho Springs is during the week.
This town is a super popular stopover to and from places further in the mountains. Its easy access to Denver means that a lot of people come up for the day on the weekends.
In the spring, snowy hikes, breweries, and hot springs are top-notch.
During the summer you can enjoy river rafting, hiking, scenic driving, wildflowers, gold mine tours, and more.
In the fall the aspens glitter in the sunshine – making hiking, climbing, and scenic driving a few of the top activities.
Wintertime is ideal for ice skating, skiing, tubing, and relaxing at the hot springs.
The Best Things to Do in Idaho Springs in Summer
The list of things to do in Idaho Springs in the summer is a long one, and you’ll find plenty of fun Idaho springs activities no matter what you’re looking for!
Go Rock Climbing
One of the many outdoor Idaho Springs activities is rock climbing, and you’ll find a few great options nearby. Climbing in Clear Creek Canyon is some of the best in the Front Range for sport and offers routes for all levels.
If you want to avoid the crowds that congregate at the Clear Creek crags, check out Mill Creek which features plenty of fun moderates in a more peaceful setting.
Try a Via Ferrata
If you’re not a climber, but still want to hang out on the side of a cliff, check out a classic Colorado via Ferrata. This guided aerial adventure course includes crossing bridges high in the air, zip lining, rappelling, and even a 50-foot free-fall experience.
Local Tip: Reserve your spots in advance if you plan on traveling during the holidays or a weekend.
Summit a 14er
Mt Blue Sky (formerly Mt Evans) is one of the most accessible 14ers near Denver. You can drive to the summit via the Mount Evans Scenic Byway (well, technically a quarter mile from it) or hike from the Summit Lake trailhead for a 5-mile round trip to actually check off a 14er on one of the best hikes in Colorado.
Local Tip: Don’t want to hike? You can practically drive to the top. Just keep in mind advanced reservations are required for hikers and drivers.
Raft Down Clear Creek
Another one of the cool adventurous things to do in Idaho Springs in the summer is whitewater rafting down Clear Creek.
Rafting guide companies in Idaho Springs offer trips for a range of experience levels, from mellow beginner rapids to extra exciting whitewater.
Check Out Miner Street Market
Take a break from all the exhilarating adventure and wander around Miner Street Market in downtown Idaho Springs.
The market runs throughout the summer months and is one of the top Idaho Springs attractions, featuring local vendors, live music, a steampunk parade, and Wild West shows on Sundays.
The Best Things to Do in Idaho Springs in Fall
With the crisp fall temps and colorful leaves, Colorado in fall provides the perfect atmosphere for these things to do in Idaho Springs.
Hike to St. Mary’s Glacier
This hike can be done year-round, but late fall is especially nice because you avoid the crazy summer crowds and the leaf-peepers of early autumn.
Scenic Drive Up Mestaa’Ėhehe Pass
Avoid the crowds heading up Mount Blue Sky with this under-the-radar scenic drive near Denver.
The drive up Mestaa’Ėhehe Pass (formerly known as Squaw Pass) in Arapaho National Forest is especially glorious when the aspens are turning golden in the fall.
Soak at Indian Hot Springs
As the weather starts to get chilly, nothing is better than a soak in some hot springs. Not only one of the top Idaho Springs attractions but also one of the best hot springs in Colorado, Indian Hot Springs is an incredible place to relax and rejuvenate.
Splash around in the mineral water swimming pool or soak deeply in the geothermal caves.
The Best Things to Do in Idaho Springs in Winter
Winter is a great season to explore the things to do in Idaho Springs with plenty of ways to enjoy the cold and snow.
Skiing at Echo Mountain
One of the top Idaho Springs things to do in winter is skiing or snowboarding at Echo Mountain.
It is the closest ski resort to Denver, so it’s a great way to fit in a quick day of skiing or even make a nice weekend getaway from Denver to enjoy the slopes.
Snow Tubing at Echo Mountain
If you’re not a skier or a snowboarder, you can still enjoy Echo Mountain by tubing! A conveyor lift brings you to the top of the tubing hill where you can slide down one of six lanes.
For extra fun, check out the night tubing under the stars.
Ice Skating at Frozen Fire Ice Rink
Ice skating is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Colorado in winter besides skiing, so lace up your skates and glide around the Frozen Fire Ice Rink in Idaho Springs!
This rink is a unique take on ice skating in Colorado since the synthetic “Glice” surface always provides perfect ice conditions, no matter the weather. Plus, kids and adults alike can have a blast in the ice bumper cars!
The Best Things to Do in Idaho Springs Any Time of Year
No matter the time of year, you can enjoy the cute downtown along Miner Street and these things to do in Idaho Springs.
Gear Up at FERAL
Local gear outfitter FERAL is a welcoming place to get the gear you need (or just want) for your next adventure.
Along with plenty of new gear and outdoor clothing, FERAL also has an awesome selection of used gear so you can save some cash and shop sustainably.
Shop for Unique Local Goods
- Kind Mountain Collective features local art from paintings to pottery to wood carvings, as well as a selection of new and vintage instruments in the music room.
- The Wild Grape is the place to find souvenirs to commemorate your trip to Colorado or bring back home for friends and family.
- You’ll smell the incense burning as soon as you step into Echos Hippie Shop to explore the eclectic goods from worry stones to mirror lamps to quirky clothing.
- The Gypsum Rose is home to all that glitters including gems, crystals, rocks, fossils, and jewelry.
- Tempt your tastebuds at The Spice & Tea Exchange of Idaho Springs where you can choose from a variety of tea blends and exotic teas, flavored sugars, salts from around the world, and over 140 spices.
- Stop at the Squatch Store for everything you need for a Colorado road trip – from gas to breakfast burritos to tasty snacks – as well as the sasquatch souvenirs you didn’t even know you needed.
Grab a Yummy Bite
- The Frothy Cup is definitely the way to start your day in Idaho Springs, offering green chili breakfast burritos, tamales, and giant muffins alongside fresh, locally roasted coffee drinks.
- Beau Jo’s is the place to be for a meal in Idaho Springs. The Colorado-style pizza has an extra thick crust to contain the toppings – and the extra crust becomes dessert with a drizzle of honey!
- If you have a carnivorous craving, head to Smokin’ Yards for some “high-elevation BBQ.” Dig into smoked hot wings, pulled pork, beef brisket, fried catfish, and more in a great location right along Clear Creek.
- Visit the Vintage Moose for a fun, old-school dive bar vibe. Enjoy the small-town charm while snacking on a small selection of munchies and imbibing a beer or cocktail.
Have a Pint at a Local Brewery
- Tommyknocker has been an institution in Idaho Springs for over 25 years and has a selection of brews to please just about any beer lover.
- Westbound & Down is the newer brewery in town and offers some top-quality beers along with upscale American pub grub. They’ve also opened a general store with coffee, breakfast burritos, beer-to-go, and snacks to fuel your adventures.
- If ciders are more your style, Clear Creek Cidery serves flights of interesting ciders from a variety of local Colorado craft cideries.
Explore a Gold Mine
Idaho Springs is a former mining town where the Colorado Gold Rush began, and that history lives on today. A visit to one of these gold mines should be high on your list of things to do in Idaho Springs!
- The Argo Mill and Tunnel offers tours of what was an engineering marvel when it was constructed. Plus, at the end of every tour, you get to pan for real gold ore!
- Phoenix Gold Mine is family-run and family-friendly, and you can tour an underground mine and learn to pan for gold.
Take a Peek at the Charlie Tayler Waterwheel
The waterwheel is an iconic Idaho Springs landmark located along I-70 that you can’t help but notice when you drive by.
While you can simply see it from the road as you pass by, you can also park in town and walk along a short paved path to get a lovely view of the waterwheel from across the creek with Bridalveil Falls in the background.
Tour the Underhill Museum
The former home of surveyor and mining engineer Dr. James Underhill and his wife Lucy has been turned into a tiny museum managed by the Historical Society of Idaho Springs.
In the museum, you can see how a home was furnished back in the early 1900s and wander through the Victorian garden and courtyard at the back of the home.
How Long Should I Spend in Idaho Springs?
Most people visit Idaho Springs for the day or even just an afternoon. If you live nearby, it’s easy to stop in Idaho Springs, try one of the activities, then come back for more later.
If you’re visiting and a lot of these amazing things to do in Idaho Springs peak your interest, consider spending a weekend here to soak it all in.
Additional Local Colorado Travel Resources
Looking for even more adventures in Colorado? I’ve got you covered with this amazing lineup of local travel resources: