Gold Camp Road: Victor to Colorado Springs

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Since Victor, Colorado is tucked away on the western side of Pike’s Peak, getting to Colorado Springs on pavement requires a long drive up and around the mountain.  You can, however, choose a dirt-road alternative that’s a lot more fun.  And judging by the number of comments I’ve received on my first drive over Gold Camp Road (in 2005), this route is also beloved and fondly remembered by a lot of people.

On the Victor end, Gold Camp Road begins on the northeast side of Victor.  From downtown, drive up County Road 81 (it’s only one of two paved roads that lead out of Victor — and the one that heads awayfrom Cripple Creek).  About 4 miles from town, you’ll spot this turnoff, onto County Road 8.

Perhaps the coolest thing about Gold Camp Road is the cuts you’ll pass through.  The road was originally a railroad, so the rock cuts are just wide enough for a train (or one car) to pass through.  You’ll slip through dozens of these as you make your way up the road, but perhaps the greatest of all…

… opens up into an incredible valley, surrounded by towering columns of rock.  It’s a strange and beautiful place, that will make you wish you’d find a “for sale” sign nearby.

 

Gold Camp Road cuts across the valley on a raised roadbed, probably 20 feet or more above the valley floor.  There are no guard rails, nor are there any good turnout areas in the middle — so you’ll need to park on one end or the other, and walk to the middle.

This was my favorite spot on Gold Camp Road during my 2005 visit.  I took a great picture at this spot, and I was determined to try to recreate it (and maybe even improve on it).  Above is the 2010 photo…

Gold Camp Road, to Victor & Cripple Creek, Colo.

… and here’s the 2005 picture.  A little sunlight and some blue sky makes all the difference!

I waited around for a few minutes, hoping the light would improve, but it didn’t.  That’s the funny thing about this part of Colorado.  Pike’s Peak plays a big role in the weather, and you can find fog and clouds on one side of the mountain, while the other side is sunny.  In 2005, I started out in fog, and ended up in brilliant sunshine by the time I reached this point on the road.  And again this time, the weather was quickly getting worse as I approached Colorado Springs.

Gold Camp Road is excellent in Autumn.  Check out my late-September drive over Gold Camp Road here.

Just beyond the beautiful valley, there’s a tunnel that you’ll need to drive through.  It’s curved, so you won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel as you enter it.  Remember to turn on your headlights and tap your horn, just in case a bicyclist or pedestrian is inside.

Another tunnel on Gold Camp Road, further east, collapsed years ago.  Because of the collapse, you have to make a detour off Gold Camp Road as you approach Colorado Springs.

Beyond the tunnel, everything was new to me.  During my previous drive, the fog on this part of the road was so thick, I couldn’t see anything except the road in front of me.  This part of Gold Camp Road is just as beautiful as the western end.

One of the highlights comes when you reach this rock outcropping.  There’s a small parking area here…

… as well as a couple of options for short hikes.  I walked and scrambled up to the top of this hill…

… for a fantastic view of Colorado Springs, far below.

After the viewpoint, the road splits, offering two routes that both end up in nearly the same place.  I chose the low road, on the right.  After the split, the road loses altitude, dropping down from the mountains into Colorado Springs.

If you choose the right fork, like I did, you’ll end up in a residential neighborhood near Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard will take you to Interstate 25.

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