Central City and Blackhawk
If you want to see the well-preserved remains of two precious mining towns that date back to the gold rush days of the 1860s, you should not miss Central City and Blackhawk. During those heady times this area was dubbed “the richest square mile on Earth” and gorgeous buildings like the Central City Opera House and the Teller House were built.
Today it’s a gold rush of a different sort; with dozens of large casinos here the towns have become a mecca for gamblers. Though the casinos were mostly welcomed by the townspeople to provide much-needed revenue to maintain the historic structures, these garish additions to the quaint towns can be a bit jarring and depressing.
A good arm workout is what you get at the slot machines in these limited-stakes gaming towns. Poker, blackjack, and slots are what you’ll find, no matter how grand the casino is. There are dozens of casinos to choose from, each with various amenities.
The Gilpin Casino (111 Main St., Blackhawk, 303/582-1133, www.thegilpincasino.com, daily 8 a.m.–2 a.m.) was one of the first casinos to open in 1992 after gambling was legalized. There are 450 slot machines and a 16-table poker room.
Central City’s largest casino is the Fortune Valley Hotel and Casino (321 Gregory St., Central City, 800/924-6646, www.fortunevalleycasino.com, daily 8 a.m.–2 a.m.) with live entertainment, a dance floor, 900 or so slot machines, and a few card tables. There are also 118 hotel rooms and complimentary parking.
If you have no interest in gambling, then just come for the opera during the summer.
Getting to Central City and Blackhawk
There has been a lot work and money invested in making the twisting, turning mountain drive to Central City and Blackhawk more safe and desirable. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Denver, going up either I-70 West or Highway 119, following the signs. There are numerous bus and limo services that go directly to the casinos. The Blackhawk/Central City Convention and Visitors Bureau website, www.visitbhcc.com, provides directions from your own address and current road conditions.
© Mindy Sink from Moon Denver, 1st Edition