Exploring Clear Creek: A Nature Lover’s Paradise


This hidden gem offers a variety of outdoor adventures across its dramatic landscape, from world-class skiing and mountain biking to fly fishing and rafting on the ice-cold waters of Clear Creek. Beyond the wealth of recreational opportunities, visitors can also explore historic mountain towns like Georgetown and Idaho Springs, ride the rails on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, and learn about the area’s mining heritage on tours of abandoned mines.

With its diversity of attractions and activities, stunning alpine scenery, and warm small-town community spirit, Clear Creek County has something to offer every type of traveler looking to connect with nature and discover the history and culture of Colorado’s high country.


  • Clear Creek County is a scenic stretch of the Colorado Rockies near Denver, offering outdoor adventures and historic mountain towns.
  • Key highlights include skiing, hiking trails, mountain biking, fishing, rafting, the Georgetown Loop Railroad, and mine tours.
  • The county also features local events like library activities, bluegrass concerts, craft workshops, and VR sessions.
  • Visitors can explore the area's mining heritage, Old West towns, conserved open spaces, and diverse vegetation.

Outdoor Recreation: Adventure Awaits in the Rocky Mountains

The crown jewel of Clear Creek County is undoubtedly its wealth of outdoor recreation. With over 75% of the county’s land area made up of national forests and wilderness, adventure seekers have endless opportunities to explore the rugged alpine terrain.

Hit the Slopes at Winter Park, Loveland, and A-Basin

During the winter, skiers and snowboarders flock to Clear Creek County to shred some of Colorado’s best snow at Winter Park Resort, Loveland Ski Area, and Arapahoe Basin. These resorts offer runs for all ability levels, from groomers to glades to extreme big-mountain terrain. Families will appreciate Winter Park’s variety of beginner and intermediate trails. Loveland’s terrain is hard to beat for advanced skiers seeking steep chutes and wide-open bowls, with over 1,800 skiable acres. And A-Basin is famous for having one of Colorado’s longest ski seasons, sometimes staying open until early June.

Hike Scenic Trails Surrounded by Rocky Mountain Splendor

Once the snow melts, hiking becomes a top activity, with trails ranging from easy lakeside strolls to challenging mountain summit treks. Idaho Springs’ Chicago Lakes Trail showcases alpine wildflowers and lakes with the dramatic backdrop of Mount Blue Sky (formerly Mount Evans), while the Yankee Hill Trail delivers panoramic views of Clear Creek Canyon. For a moderate hike to a historic site, the Mount McClellan Trail leads to the ruins of an old mining town. More advanced hikers can tackle the 14,265-foot summit of Mount Bierstadt, one of Clear Creek County’s renowned 14,000-foot “Fourteeners.”

Reel in Trout on Clear Creek or Go Whitewater Rafting

Fishing is also popular throughout Clear Creek County, especially on Clear Creek itself, which is gold-medal waters known for its healthy rainbow and brown trout population. In addition, thrill-seekers can book a whitewater rafting trip to experience Class III-V rapids on Clear Creek’s tumultuous waters. From late May to early September, rafting companies like AVA Rafting offer trips through the dramatic gorge section of Clear Creek near Idaho Springs.

Ride Singletrack Trails Galore for Mountain Bikers

For mountain biking, the county has become a destination in its own right, with hundreds of miles of scenic singletrack. Buffalo Creek has flowing trails perfect for beginners, while Apex Park near Golden offers legendary technical terrain, jump lines, drops, and bridges. The Mount Blue Sky Recreation Area provides intermediate trails with panoramic views to access high-alpine riding. For a multi-day bikepacking adventure, the Colorado Trail crosses Clear Creek County, including the segment between Kenosha Pass and Georgia Pass.

With a wealth of winter and summer activities and stunning scenery, it’s easy to have an epic outdoor adventure in Clear Creek County.

Historic and Cultural Attractions: Step Back in Time

Beyond the wealth of outdoor recreation, Clear Creek County also provides opportunities to immerse yourself in history and culture with an Old West flavor. Several historic sites and landmarks give visitors a window into the area’s frontier past and mining heritage.

Ride the Rails on the Georgetown Loop Railroad

One of the county’s most popular attractions is the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a historic railway that connects the once-booming mining towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume. Riding the Victorian-era trains lets you experience the original route built in 1884 with sweeping views of Clear Creek Valley from high trestle bridges and winding through mine tunnels. Along the way, the steam locomotives stop at stations restored to appear exactly as they did over a century ago.

Tour Old West Towns Like Georgetown, Silver Plume, and Idaho Springs

These rides offer a taste of the mining history on display throughout Clear Creek County’s towns. The Victorian buildings of Georgetown and Silver Plume, once centers of the area’s gold rush, allow visitors to walk streets that look much the same as during their 19th-century heyday. While Idaho Springs has grown beyond its origins as a mining camp, visitors can still see remnants of its past at the Argo Gold Mill and Mine.

In each of these communities, tourists will find historical museums, preserved landmarks, and heritage events bringing the Old West to life. For example, Georgetown hosts the annual Georgetown Loop Ice Festival to celebrate the railroad’s history.

Descend into Abandoned Mines on the Lebanon Silver Mine Tour

To dig deeper into the area’s mining heritage, visitors can don hard hats and headlamps to explore abandoned mines like the Lebanon Silver Mine near Georgetown. On this tour, you’ll ride a train 1500 feet straight into the Rocky Mountains, learning how the miners worked and catching a glimpse at the veins of silver ore. Other mine tours, like the Country Boy Mine, allow you to see equipment and structures left behind by 19th-century prospectors during the area’s silver rush.

Between the trains, towns, and mines, Clear Creek County offers numerous ways to re-live its frontier heyday as the American West’s mining and railroad hub.

Community Character: Small-Town Spirit

Beyond the wealth of attractions and activities, Clear Creek County also appeals to visitors and potential residents with its vibrant community of small mountain towns. Despite the area’s natural beauty and outdoor recreation drawing ever more residents, these communities maintain their small-town charm and spirit.

At Home in the Mountains: Housing and Development

Clear Creek provides a range of housing options to accommodate both full-time residents and second-home owners seeking a mountain retreat. Due to the limited private land suitable for development in the narrow valleys, the county has zoning laws in place to control growth and preserve the alpine scenery. As a result, new housing consists primarily of small, low-density subdivisions rather than large developments. And for those looking for an authentic mining town experience, historic residences are also available in communities like Georgetown and Silver Plume.

Community Services Keep Quality of Life High

Residents benefit from Clear Creek County’s investments in infrastructure and services to keep pace with moderate development while maintaining the area’s charm. Towns like Idaho Springs provide public transportation linking neighborhoods, activity centers, and tourism hubs. And across the county, fire protection districts and community-oriented policing ensure public safety. Libraries act as vibrant community centers hosting events and classes, exemplified by the Clear Creek County Library District’s packed calendar of activities from virtual reality sessions to bluegrass concerts.

Furthermore, the county and local environmental groups actively conserve open space, preserve vegetation like pine forests, and promote sustainability. From river cleanup initiatives to recycling programs, residents can participate in shaping Clear Creek’s future. This shared environmental ethic protects the landscape that draws so many people and fosters community engagement.

Celebrating Community: Events and Entertainment

The community spirit also shines through in the county’s lively events and entertainment scene. The local libraries host their popular “FriYAY” series on the last Friday evening of each month, bringing residents together to socialize over drinks and lawn games. Families can enjoy activities like the annual “Monster Mash” Halloween party. Culture lovers can attend free bluegrass concerts or craft workshops to watch local artisans at work.

Complementing these community events, an array of privately run entertainment keeps residents engaged. The county’s proximity to Denver attracts concerts, festivals, and even the occasional film shoot to its scenic mountain backdrop. Visitors might stumble upon a yoga retreat or watch extreme athletes tackle a grueling race like the “Run Rabbit Run” 100-miler.

Between public events and private entertainment, there are always new ways for visitors and residents alike to connect with Clear Creek County’s thriving community.

Planning Your Visit

With its diverse attractions and gorgeous Rocky Mountain scenery, Clear Creek County promises an unforgettable visit. To help travelers make the most of their time, here are some tips for planning a vacation in Clear Creek County:

When to Visit

One of Clear Creek County’s advantages is offering four distinct seasons of activities:

  • Winter: For skiing and snowboarding at one of the nearby resorts between November and April
  • Summer: To enjoy hiking, biking, rafting, and festivals during July and August
  • Fall: When the aspens put on a colorful show across the mountains from September through October
  • Spring: For wildlife viewing and wildflowers against snowcapped peaks in May and June

Of course, certain events and attractions may have specific schedules, so check calendars when choosing dates.

Where to Stay

Clear Creek County provides a variety of lodging options to suit different needs and budgets, including:

  • Resort hotels at Winter Park and Loveland Pass for ski-in/ski-out access
  • Rustic mountain cabins for a private alpine retreat are found in towns like Idaho Springs
  • Bed and Breakfasts, motels, and inns in Georgetown, Silver Plume, and other historic towns
  • Campgrounds in national forest land and parks for an outdoor adventure
  • Vacation rentals managed by local property companies, from condos to lakeside homes

Trip Planning Resources

The best places to find more information for planning your vacation include:

  • Clear Creek County Tourism Bureau for info on attractions and trip planning
  • Town websites like Visit Clear Creek for events calendars and permits
  • National Forest websites for maps, camping permits, and activity guidelines
  • Local business websites to book activities, tours, rentals, and more

No matter your interests or budget, Clear Creek County offers an idyllic Rocky Mountain getaway filled with adventure, nature, history, and community. Start planning your Colorado mountain vacation today!


What is there to do in Clear Creek County?

From skiing and hiking to historical attractions and community events, Clear Creek County offers endless options for outdoor recreation and cultural experiences. Top activities include mountain biking the extensive singletrack trails, fishing for trout on Clear Creek, exploring abandoned mines, riding the Georgetown Loop Railroad, attending library events and bluegrass concerts, and much more.

When is the best time to visit Clear Creek County?

The county offers distinct seasonal activities, so plan your visit accordingly: winter for skiing and snowboarding, summer for hiking and rafting, fall for leaf peeping, and spring for wildlife viewing. Many events also follow seasonal schedules.

Where should I stay when visiting Clear Creek County?

Accommodation options include resort hotels at Winter Park and Loveland for ski-in/ski-out access, secluded mountain cabins and B&Bs in historic towns like Georgetown, campgrounds for an outdoor retreat, and vacation rentals managed by local property companies.

How do I get to Clear Creek County?

Most visitors reach the county’s attractions and trailheads by rental car from Denver International Airport, which is under two hours away. Some shuttles also offer transportation services from Denver. Guided tours may provide round-trip options as well.

Are pets allowed in Clear Creek County and its public lands?

Policies vary across the county. Most outdoor areas allow dogs if kept leashed, though some trails prohibit them. Historic sites and events may restrict pets, so check individual regulations before visiting with your furry friend.

Avatar photo

About the author

Simone Weisman

My deep appreciation for nature and active living strongly aligns with the vibrant outdoor culture of Colorado. My enjoyment of yoga, hiking, and exploring scenic trails provides me with a unique perspective that I bring to ReadyColorado.com. This personal passion enriches my ability to connect with and inspire our audience, whether they’re local residents or visitors seeking to explore all that Colorado has to offer.