Cripple Creek Colorado

Trip Planning

Denver Escapes

The greater Denver area has so many destinations for locals and out-of-towners to enjoy. Jeff Crider shares where to visit and where to stay in this stunning area.

RV enthusiasts who live in the greater Denver area are within a two- to four-drive of some of some of the most interesting scenic and historical sites in the Rocky Mountains, all of which are enticing mid-week or weekend escapes from the Mile High City. RVers who venture a little more than an hour’s drive south of Denver can soak their bodies and enjoy massages and spa treatments at SunWater Spa in Manitou Springs, check out the ancient Native American dwellings at

Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum and Preserve and take a ride on the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway to the top of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak. Local area campgrounds include Manitou Springs Campground and Garden of the Gods Campground in Colorado Springs, both of which are close to hiking, biking, rock climbing and horseback riding opportunities at Garden of the Gods Park, with additional recreational opportunities in Red Rock Canyon.

Denver area RVers with an insatiable sense of adventure will also want to drive two to 2.5 hours south to the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River, otherwise known as Royal Gorge, which features America’s highest suspension bridge and zipline. You can enjoy these activities at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. The suspension bridge is 956 feet above the Arkansas River while zipline riders soar even higher at 1,200 feet above the water.

If you get a little woozy reading this, you could also ride a gondola across the canyon. But there are also more adventures down below, including whitewater rafting tours and a historic train ride through Royal Gorge Canyon on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. Gourmet lunch and dinner train rides are also available.

(Photo courtesy of the Royal Gorge Route Railroad)

Echo Canyon River Expeditions Echo Canyon River Expeditions, one of Colorado’s largest whitewater rafting outfitters, offers rafting tours of the Arkansas River from April to September. These adventures range from family friendly trips through Bighorn Sheep Canyon to advanced river rafting trips through Royal Gorge Canyon. Nearby campgrounds include the Royal Gorge / Canon City KOA Holiday and Royal View RV Park, both in Canon City as well as Lone Duck Campground in Cascade.

(Photo Courtesy of Echo Canyon River Expeditions)

After spending a couple of days in Royal Gorge, those with additional time may want to consider heading further south to Great Sand Dunes National Park, which has the tallest sand dunes in North America. Nearby campgrounds include Cool Sunshine RV Park in Alamosa.

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service)


Denver area RVers with an interest in Colorado’s mining history will enjoy exploring the historic mining towns of Leadville, St. Elmo, Cripple Creek, and Victor, all of which are two to three hours west, southwest or south of the Mile High City.

(Photo courtesy of Cripple Creek KOA)

Leadville is about a two-hour drive west of Denver, depending on traffic. In addition to being the highest incorporated city in the United States, at 10,152 feet, Leadville has so much authentic Victorian architecture that 70 square blocks of the town were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966. Attractions include Healy House, the Heritage Museum, the Delaware Hotel, Tabor Home and the Matchless Mine, one of the richest silver mines of the late 1800s. Nearby campgrounds include Sugar Loafin' RV Campground and Cabins.

A little over an hour’s drive south of Leadville is St. Elmo
Founded in 1880, St. Elmo flourished as a silver and gold mining town for less than a decade, but it’s believed to be one of the best-preserved ghost towns of the Old West. Visitors can stroll the intact wooden sidewalks to view St. Elmo’s original general store, which is still in operation today as well as roughly 40 other historic structures, including Pat Hurley’s Saloon and The Miner’s Exchange, both built in 1892. Buena Vista area campgrounds include 
Chalk Creek Campground & RV Park in Nathrop and Arrowhead Point Campground & Cabins in Buena VistaIncidentally, the Buena Vista area is also a place where RVers can enjoy opportunities for white water rafting and ziplining as several companies offer adventure tours in the area. In the fall, the Buena Vista area can also be used as a base camp for day trip to Vail to see the fall colors.

Other historic mining towns a little over two hours south of Denver are Cripple Creek and Victor, the sites of Colorado’s last and greatest mining boom. Both towns were vibrant gold mining camps in the 1890s and early 1900s that left behind numerous historic buildings and mining structures, many of which can be seen on local ghost walk and history tours as well as self-guided walking, biking and hiking trails listed on the Trails of Gold website. Local attractions include the Cripple Creek Historical Museum, the Outlaws and Lawmen Jail Museum, and the historic Butte Theatre, which is one only a handful of theaters in the country that still offers live melodramas. Other attractions include the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. Nearby campgrounds include the Cripple Creek KOA Holiday campground in Cripple Creek, the highest KOA campground in the world with an elevation of 10,000 feet.

Even more adventures await Denver area RVers who travel northwest to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, which offers opportunities for hiking, biking, climbing, fishing and horseback riding. Many visitors make their base camps in the Estes Park area, which also has a variety of attractions, including the Open Air Adventure Park, which features 32 aerial challenges, including tight ropes, rope bridges and moving platforms as well as opportunities for kayaking and ax throwing. Estes Park also has several events, including the Rooftop Rodeo, July 5-10, and the Autumn Gold Festival, Sept. 23-24, which, according to its promoters, celebrates “Bands, Brats and Beer.” Nearby campgrounds include the Estes Park / Rocky Mountain National Park KOA Holiday and the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Estes Park. RVers bound for Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver could also take a different route and use Winding River Resort in Grand Lake as their base camp.

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service)

Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.