I recently had a friend from China and her husband come visit. They wanted to spend a day as gold prospectors so we visited Arapahoe Bar to dig (see my post about that site here). We dug the bottom of an existing hole and did very well so they got to take home a nice souvenir vial of Colorado gold. We also made a visit to the Phoenix Mine. You can easily learn about the mine visit schedule, location and fees here http://www.phoenixmine.com
We were lucky enough to hear the intro and history talk from the owner himself, local legend Al Mosch. Here he is in front of the west portal of the mine on the day we visited. Nice of him to pose for me right!?
If you ask folks who know, many will say the Phoenix should be your first underground mine tour. It’s a fairly short tour, has good walking surfaces so it’s accessible regardless of your physical condition, the tours are led by real hard rock miners and most importantly…there’s a VISIBLE GOLD SEAM you can reach out and touch! Most mines have microscopic gold or gold bound up in complex ores- still great tours but this one should be your first. The mine goes about 500 feet underground into a hillside, but it’s all horizontal so it’s easy for almost anyone. It also helps that it’s just a 30 minute drive west of Denver on I-70 then 6 miles up a good dirt road.
Inside the mine you can also see some cool ore processing equipment. Outside the mine you can pan in Trail Creek which runs across the property. After your tour, your tour guide will be happy to loan you a pan and teach you to use it. You can also see another collection of commercial mining gear:
Gold Panning Tips:
As far as the panning goes, experienced miners will patiently teach you to pan in the chunk of Trail Creek owned by the mine. However, the gold in that area of Trail Creek is pretty sparse in my (limited) experience. It might be better downstream a ways. The staff at the mine told me folks pan and sluice the creek downstream of the mine where it follows along next to the road (so it’s on county property, not private!!) with some success.
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