Colorado Road Trip: Part 1 – A Golden Adventure

My family is not afraid of long road trips. One common journey we make is the drive to Colorado to visit Summit County and the surrounding areas. It is a 10.5-hour drive from Tulsa without stops, or a 12.5-hour drive with how often we take breaks. 

What keeps us coming back to Colorado is our love for nature, the extreme landscape, and how vastly different the state looks and feels across seasons. Our adventure this time started with a familiar favorite.

Mining history

Up in the mountains of Breckenridge, there is a magical place called Country Boy Mine. This summer marked our second visit. Mining was a huge part of Colorado’s history. Country Boy Mine was founded in 1887 and feels much like it would have back then. As soon as you drive into the parking lot, you feel transported to the time when the area was well known for its gold and silver production. Authenticity is all around —  from old mining equipment to unique buildings and signage onsite.

At Country Boy Mine Entrance

At Country Boy Mine Entrance

You can tour the mine with a guide, where you’ll learn all about what day-to-day life was like working in the dark, harsh conditions. Wearing a hard hat, visitors are taken 1,000 feet into the mine. We did this during our first visit several years ago and gained a newfound respect for miners. We booked our tour in advance online, which is recommended. At the end of our tour, we panned for gold in Eureka Creek, which runs right through the mountain. Since we had already done the mine tour, we came back this year to pan for gold again!

Panning for gold

The array of rocks and minerals in Eureka Creek at Country Boy Mine is impressive. The panning area is set up as a series of cascading pools that you can wade through. Boots of all sizes are available to borrow while wading around, so there is no need to pack your own. Some people go from place to place in the creek while others camp out in one particular area, sifting to see what is there. The scenery from up high is an added bonus. 

If you don’t know how to pan for gold, the amazing people at the mine will teach you! Joe at Country Boy Mine gave us a demonstration inside before we went out to the creek. Here’s an overview of how it works:

  • First, when you pull your pan out of the water, you should shake it back and forth vigorously so that any gold can settle to the bottom of the pan. 
  • Next comes the part where you splash the pan, which entails slightly tilting and swirling the pan. This allows water and sand to wash over the edge. 
  • After doing this multiple times, you can hold your pan flat again and wash a bit of water over the remaining sand to reveal any gold. Doing so in a circular motion works best. 
  • If you see flecks of gold, you can collect them with a pipette.
Joe Shows Isabelle And Peter How To Pan For Gold at country boy mine

Joe shows Isabelle and Peter how to pan for gold

After we listened and learned, it was time to put our skills to the test. It wasn’t long at all before we found our first bit of gold. We collected it and other bits we found using our pipette, which we then squeezed into the bag they gave us. You can keep what you find at the mine, which makes for an amazing souvenir. They also have a gift shop where you can buy extra keepsakes in case you’d like to add to your collection.

Adding to Your Rock Collection

Isabelle’s favorite treasures, besides the flecks of gold, were peacock ore and amethyst. Each time she made a discovery, her eyes lit up with excitement. The employees at Country Boy Mine are happy to help identify findings, and we asked about rocks quite a few times. I was surprised by their variety and beauty. Meanwhile, kids around often share each other’s findings, which makes the atmosphere extra special. For a geology lover, this is a dreamland.

Isabelle Finds An Amethyst

Isabelle finds an amethyst

Other Things to Do at Country Boy Mine

The site also has adorable miniature donkeys to pet. If you have extra time because your spouse won’t stop panning for gold and you and your child are exhausted, for example, it’s a great option. I learned that Country Boy Mine offers scavenger hunts in the summer months, though we haven’t been on one yet. We will save that for another visit!

An Adorable Burro Says Hello at country boy mine

An Adorable Burro Says Hello

Ee Country Boy Mine Pin

Categories: Exploration and Education