Idaho Springs

Idaho Springs, Colorado | C.1859

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson


The dust had barely settled in the golden state of California, by the time prospector George A. Jackson stepped foot into the gold-flushed mountains of Colorado. Tipped off by a few non-substantial, “teaser finds” outside present-day Denver, that enticed to the area in 1858. but onto a mysterious  blue mist rising from the ground just beyond the frozen Vazquez Fork.  waist-deep in snow, to find that the mysterious “smoke” was steam rising from piping hot springs. Within the next few days, Jackson found he had literally “struck gold”.

While the determined prospector kept his discovery hush-hush for several months, it wasn’t long before Jackson’s golden secret was uncovered. Soon a throng of eager miners would hustle their horses through the mountains resulting in Colorado’s first official “gold rush”.  At its peak, tens of thousands of other prospectors flocked to places like Jackson’s Diggings (later renamed Idaho Springs) and the mountainous area south, known as Pike’s Peak Country, and, eventually, Colorado more generally.

You could say Jackson struck gold twice, as the mountains were full of more than just one treasure. The steaming hot springs  had long been considered spiritual and healing by native Utes and Arapahoe tribespeople The Utes’ term for the warm waters was Yampah, or “big medicine” and Today, Adventurers can take a plunge into the revitalizing waters of the Indian Hot Springs Lodge in Idaho Springs, America’s first commercialized hot springs, and bathe in the tranquil alpine scenery from outdoor jacuzzis, or soak indoors in a tropical translucent-domed paradise. Adventurers will also find one of a kind cave baths, a mud room, private baths and can even choose to stay the night–the full hot springs treatment

Today, Idaho Springs is a relic of the past with preserved fire houses that date back to 1882 and the Argo Mine that once processed over $100 million of gold ore. Modern day prospectors can still be spotted panning for a hopeful leftover at the mines, just be sure that those who do find a nugget or two don’t catch the wretched Golden Fever.

Written By: Sam Jacobson

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