COLORADO MINE TOURS REVIEW

by John and Sue Eyre

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[Editor's Note:]  In June and July of 2021, John and Sue Eyre took tours of many mines open to the public in Colorado, USA.  They have provided a list of those tours with contact numbers and prices that were current at the time of their trip.  Information, pictures, and reviews are provided by them for WGS website use and helpfulness to those interested in touring them or learning about them.   The reviews are based on the opinions of John and Sue Eyre at the time of their visit.  They advise that you please be sure to contact and/or make reservation directly with individual mines and tours prior to your visit as services and prices may have changed since their visit.  

                                                                                                                                         --Shannon Graewin

Summary of Colorado Mine Tours and Contact Information

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Hidee Gold Mine

Do this tour if you are in the area

We toured Hidee mine on June 29, 2021 Mark was our guide and he was very knowledgeable about both the history and current workings of the mine.

We arrived about an hour early and spent the time checking out the above ground operations as well as chatting with several other tour guides and employees.  We could have used that time to gold pan, but we found the conversations more interesting.

The tour lasted about one hour and it took us a fair way into the mine.  We were each given a small souvenir sample bag which we were able to fill with samples during the tour. Chisels, hammers and eye protection was provided at the point of specimen collection as well as advice on how and where to dig.

This was a very informative and enjoyable tour.  There were several children on our tour and Mark was great at explaining everything on several levels so everyone got the most out of the tour

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Last Chance Mine

Do this tour if you are in the area

This mine was a do over from our 2017 trip.  Jack, the owner has really worked hard over the past few years to open more of the mine.  His story of how he acquired the mine is worth the trip alone. We did this tour for the second time on July 10, 2021.  Our tour guides this time were Scotty and his side-kick pooch, GJ (short for Gin & Juice). 

This mine is 11 levels from top to bottom and Jack is working to open as much as possible to the public.  The mine is best known for its beautiful Amethyst Vein, but also holds many other minerals.  Scotty told us that they plan to have 5 more tours open by August, 2021, including a lunch tour which will need to be reserved at least 2 days in advance.

The drive along the Bachelors’ Loop Road out of Creed is beautiful as is the Last Chance mine property.  There is a museum and rock samples as well as a gift shop with hand crafted jewelry to pass the time before and after your tour.  You may also purchase specimens from the mine for $2 a pound.

Jack is also looking for summer tour guides.  What a wonderful opportunity for a college student with an interest in geology.

A little known, fact is that Jack played as an ‘extra’ in the recent Lone Ranger film starring Johnny Depp.  The train scene was filmed in the valley directly below the mine.

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Hard Tack Mine

Do this tour if you are in the area

We did this tour on July 10, 2021.  It’s more of a mine tunnel and museum tour with some mining history and educational information.  For the price, it’s still worth doing if you are in the area.

There are displays throughout the tunnel.  There is a museum room that you can only see if you take the tour.  There is also a nice display of fluorescent minerals.

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Capital Prize Mine

Must do this tour if you are in the area

The staff at this active mine and tour site in Georgetown are extremely knowledgeable and friendly.  We arrived an hour early for our pre-scheduled tour and the time flew by talking to the miners and checking out their workshop and blacksmith areas.  On the tour, we not only got to see their rock crusher and gold table they use when actually mining the area, but also the working drills from days gone by.  All participants were able to collect a piece of ore and bring it outside the mine to smash with safety glasses and rock hammers.

Because of our extra time prior to the tour, the miners and our tour guide knew that we were members of WGS and made our time in the mine special by addressing our specific interests in mining and collecting.  Also, when we later discovered that we had a camera malfunction that day and lost all of our pictures, they graciously supplied us with pictures to use for this article.

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Phoenix Mine

Do this tour if you are in the area

We did this tour on a Saturday in mid-July with a fairly large group of tourists.  Our tour guide, Dave was very enthusiastic.  Personally, we found it hard to hear everything he had to say as in his enthusiasm, he raised and lowered his voice sometimes almost to a whisper.  The tour and the mine itself were very interesting.  As part of the tour, gold panning was available afterwards.  We also purchased a pouch of gold-bearing material that could have been panned on site.  We chose to take our pouch home.

As with many of the mines we visited, the pre-tour included the antics of numerous chip monks.  This mine actually sold small bags of food to keep the tourists amused until their tour started.

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Chaffee Gold Mine & Vic's Gold Panning

John and Sue Eyre's Personal Favorite-- By appointment only

Jesse, long-time owner of the Chaffee Mine has roots in Wisconsin.  He grew up near Marquette University and bought Chaffee mine when he moved out to Colorado almost 50 years ago.  He is a Veteran Marine and moves a little slowly these days, but is happy to take fellow Wisconsinites on a private tour as long as you call ahead to make arrangements and are willing to go at his pace.  He still actively works the mine as his main source of income.

The mine has history back to the early Spanish and many of the tunnels go way back to that time.  Jesse had us pull up a chair and listen to his stories for almost an hour after our private tour.  The cost of a tour is negotiable, but we gladly paid Jesse $25 each for our time spent. 

Not long after Jesse arrived in Colorado, he got involved with the Colorado Mines Safety and Rescue Team.  He still conducts classes for many of Colorado’s Mine Tour guides.

Adjacent to the mine is Vic’s Gold Panning where you can pan to your hearts content for $10 per person per day.

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Country Boy Mine

Skip this one

We took this tour on a Friday afternoon in July.  Unfortunately, the property was hosting a $500 a plate fundraiser that evening, so there was a lot of activity going on with set up.

The setting was beautiful, overlooking the town of Breckenridge.  The panning area was being enjoyed by many children and adults, but it was not a natural stream and we doubt any gold found actually got there from a natural source.

This was the most expensive tour we took and the information given by our tour guide was questionable. She told us that the miners in the late 1800s and early 1900s made a very good living earning about $7 an hour.  Make your own judgement on this one.

On the good side, if you are traveling with young children, they would enjoy the live burros and the panning ponds, but if you are a serious mine and/or panning buff, skip this tour.

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