Black Hawk, Colorado: A Hub of Gaming, History, and Nature


Black Hawk, Colorado, is located about one hour west of Denver and offers visitors a unique blend of gaming entertainment, Wild West allure, and access to stunning stretches of protected national forest.

Founded in 1859 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, the town still retains much of its old West mining heritage. Its scenic placement amidst the towering evergreens and rocky outcroppings of the Rocky Mountains creates a spectacular alpine backdrop for visitors year-round. The mountain vistas visible from Main Street are some of Colorado’s most iconic.

Adding to its natural appeal, Black Hawk offers a gateway to the surrounding Roosevelt and Arapaho National Forests. With over 800,000 acres of designated wilderness areas, these pristine forests provide endless opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and more. Many stunning trails stem right off the streets of town.


  • Black Hawk is located in the Rocky Mountains, about one hour west of Denver.
  • Once a gold mining town, Black Hawk is now a picturesque destination for those looking for casino gaming entertainment and mountain adventure.
  • Although it has changed, Black Hawk maintains the spirit of the Wild West.

Homage to the Wild West Era

As one of Colorado’s last remaining boom towns, Black Hawk owes its existence to the gold miners who flocked there in the mid-1800s. Determined prospectors settled the valley in 1859, and within just a few years, the fledgling town’s population ballooned to over 5,000 residents.

Today, 150 years later, visitors can still feel the spirit of the Wild West. Historical buildings now house modern casinos, while reconstructed log cabins display mining equipment and pioneer artifacts. The HARD Rock Mining Museum provides interactive education about the town’s gold mining origins.

Don’t miss reenactments by the Wild West outlaw gang known as the Good Guys and Gals. Their theatrical shootout shows on Main Street transport you back to Black Hawk’s rough-and-tumble past.

Outdoor Recreation from Peak to Prairie

From heart-pumping adventure to serene alpine scenery, the landscapes surrounding Black Hawk offer limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Tackle some of Colorado’s most iconic 14,000-foot peaks, hike through wildflower-strewn meadows, or bike for miles on an old mining road. Anglers can cast for trout in cold mountain streams, while adventurers can try their hand at panning for gold.

The high-altitude terrain provides stunning vistas, making scenic drives like Guanella Pass and Mount Evans favorite regional routes. For more of a backcountry experience, traverse the Continental Divide along the Colorado Trail or climb a Class V summit like Grays Peak or Torreys Peak.

The mild climate also makes Black Hawk an ideal base camp for year-round stays. When winter blankets the mountainsides in snow, varied terrain opens up prime spots for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and more.

Gaming and Entertainment

In 1991, Black Hawk, along with nearby Central City, legalized casino gaming. What was once an abandoned mining town struggling to survive became a bustling hub of hotels, restaurants, and flashy casinos seemingly overnight. Today, over two dozen casino operations give visitors their pick of slots, poker, and blackjack. From the elegant Lodge Casino to the vast Ameristar Casino Resort Spa, these venues also host concerts, comedy shows, and holiday events.

For families, the Gilpin History Museum offers an interactive look at the county’s pioneering past, complete with a replica mine shaft and gold panning. The local theater group puts on lively Wild West melodramas for all ages.

As the sun sets, live music from venues like the Bull Durham Saloon and Sasquatch Casino fills the mountain air. The mountain town truly comes alive at night.

Cultural Events and Local Flare

From honky tonks to historical reenactments, Black Hawk knows how to keep things interesting. Year-round, visitors can experience free festivals and cultural events celebrating the town’s mining heritage.

The annual Miners Day Parade and Festival held each September includes a procession down Main Street with residents dressed in pioneer clothing, live demonstrations of gold panning, and even burro races. Other themed events range from Wild West Days to the longest-running 4th of July Rodeo in all of Colorado.

For a taste of authentic local culture, stop by one of the town’s historical restaurants. Family-owned for generations, venues like the Black Hawk House offer a cozy atmosphere and classic American fare. More casual spots like the Creekside Grill pair creative sandwiches and burgers with unbeatable mountain views.

Four Distinct Seasons

One of Black Hawk’s biggest draws is its variety of seasonal activities set against a constantly changing backdrop. Each of the four seasons boasts scenic charm and unique recreational offerings.

Spring welcomes warmer weather with the emergence of colorful wildflowers. Hikers and bikers flock to the forests to enjoy the lush green landscapes and mild temperatures. As summer arrives, temperatures climb well into the 80s, making floating Clear Creek or fishing for trout popular pastimes. From family-friendly country fairs to outdoor concerts, summer also brings weekly festivals and events.

By mid-September, the aspen trees erupt into a sea of shimmering gold hues during one of nature’s most dazzling spectacles. The comfortable 60-degree days make autumn perfect for leisurely hikes and mountain drives to see the peaking fall foliage.

When winter storms blanket the mountainsides in snow, Black Hawk transforms into a frozen alpine wonderland. The ski resorts open up, offering prime terrain for all abilities. It is one of the best places in Colorado for backcountry skiing, ice climbing, and snowmobiling adventures.

Lodging and Dining

Black Hawk visitors can choose from various lodging options to suit different budgets and preferences. Several large casino hotels like the Ameristar and Lodge Casino provide guests with luxury suites and easy access to gaming. Smaller independent hotels, motels, and mountain lodges offer comfortable rooms and cabins at lower nightly rates.

Within the casinos themselves, travelers have their pick of restaurants ranging from upscale steakhouse fare to quick yet satisfying food court bites. Be sure to try the Lodge Casino’s award-winning seafood or the Ameristar’s Sunday brunch with sparkling wine. For cheaper eats in a casual pub atmosphere, check out places like the Bull Durham Saloon and Creekside Grill.

No visit to Black Hawk is complete without sampling from one of the town’s historical restaurants. Family-owned for generations, the Black Hawk House, Teller House Restaurant, and Country Boy Mine Restaurant transport diners back in time with their cozy atmospheres and hearty American comfort food.

Travel Tips and Recommendations

Black Hawk offers visitors an easily accessible mountain getaway. Several shuttle companies provide direct transportation from Denver International Airport, making a car rental unnecessary. Free public parking is available throughout downtown.

The small town center is very walkable, but free shuttle buses also run visitors between the local casinos and hotels. For those wanting to explore the surrounding mountains, it’s best to rent a car.

While winters rarely see extreme cold, snowstorms can impact mountain road conditions. Visitors planning winter trips should equip vehicles with four-wheel drive or snow chains.


What is there to do in Black Hawk besides visit the casinos?

From scenic hiking trails to fascinating museums, Black Hawk offers much more than just gaming. Outdoor recreation, historical attractions, seasonal festivals, and lively entertainment give both families and adult visitors plenty to see and do.

What is the best way to get to Black Hawk from Denver?

Visitors can take I-70 west from Denver for a straight 50-minute drive into town. Another option is the gambling bus shuttles, which provide direct transportation from downtown Denver and the airport.

When is the best time of year to visit Black Hawk?

One of Black Hawk’s biggest appeals is its variety of seasonal activities. Spring, summer, and fall offer perfect weather for hiking, biking, fishing, and scenic drives. Winter transforms the mountain landscape for prime skiing and snowboarding. Each season has a unique charm!

Does Black Hawk have ski resorts close by?

While Black Hawk itself does not have ski slopes, three major resorts are located just over an hour away. Breckenridge, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin all provide exceptional terrain with stunning Rocky Mountain vistas.

What is there to do in Black Hawk at night?

At night, Black Hawk comes alive with the bright lights of the bustling casinos. Catch a concert at the Ameristar or a comedy show at the Lodge Casino. Grab drinks and dance at one of the local bars hosting live bands. Endless gaming options are available during the late hours.


About the author

James Ranson

I’m an editor, traveler, and fan of the great outdoors. I’ve been to all 48 continental US states, and my drives through Colorado’s rugged peaks and snowy forests (not to mention whiskey tastings in Denver!) still stand out in my memories. I’m excited to use my ten years of editing experience to develop engaging and informative guides and articles that enhance the outdoor experiences of both Colorado residents and visitors. Whether a piece is about exploring the best ski resorts, uncovering scenic trails for hiking, or finding the most inspiring drives through the Colorado Rockies, my aim is to provide comprehensive and accessible content that encourages adventure and exploration.