Off-Road Adventurers: You’re Going to Love Gold Camp Road

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A card dives through a tunnel carved through rock along Gold Camp Road in Colorado Springs

Traveling backroads to explore historical events can be grueling for many, especially if the road is not conducive to smooth travel. Gold Camp Road can offer much more than that. Curious occurrences and scary tales that involve a destination can make these journeys a little more compelling.

Take a Sunday afternoon drive to discover more about the mining history of a small mountain town in Colorado. Throw in a few good ghost stories and you’ve got an intriguing travel itinerary.

Such is the case for Cripple Creek, Colo., and the winding, spooky path that leads to it called Gold Camp Road.

What Is Gold Camp Road? 

Gold Camp Road follows the old railroad tracks of the Short Line from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek. It’s an excellent afternoon drive through mining and railroad history. Additionally, many outdoor adventurists hike or bike the route.

But this dirt path follows the exact track of a railroad built to haul supplies, ore, and people during the Pike’s Peak gold rush. The scenery is worth every penny spent to build the railroad. You’ll get views of Cheyenne Mountain, the Front Range, and the densely forested Rocky Mountains.

Gold Camp Road is not only a scenic drive. It has a reputation as a haunted destination, with well-known stories of tunnel cave-ins, strange aberrations, and ominous screaming voices. For those willing to explore these paranormal activities, this road is an open book, with the exception of Tunnel Three.

The railroad abandoned the Short Line in 1922, and the rails were pulled. Then the Corley Mountain Highway replaced it.

By 1939 this track through North Cheyenne Canyon became a public roadway. Three railroad tunnels were converted so passenger cars could pass through Cripple Creek. 

A black iron gate blocks anyone from trying to get inside Tunnel Three along Gold Camp Road.
Near the old closed off train tunnel in North Cheyenne Canyon.
mark byzewske | CC BY 2.0 | Image via flickr

This began ghost stories and strange occurrences. At least one worker died when the tunnels were initially carved out of the rock in the late 1800s. But the major event that brought eerie reports of supernatural happenings was when Tunnel Three collapsed in 1988. Rumors began to circulate that a school bus full of children got stuck and died in the tunnel.

Soon, visitors to the other two tunnels began to experience unusual sightings and noises. Several people who stopped their cars in Tunnel Two exited it with tiny handprints in the dust on their vehicles.

Many said they heard children playing and screaming after leaving. And a few brave souls have parked their cars in the tunnel, turned off their headlights, and felt their vehicle being pushed uphill against gravity. One even reported seeing a man walk to the trunk of their car to give it a push.

Tunnel Three is blocked off by a large iron gate, so travelers can’t get close enough to see if the stories are true. No records exist of a school bus wreck on Gold Camp Road. However, the haunted screams of children may refute that fact.

Traveler’s Tip: Would you hike through this spooky two mile railroad tunnel that’s in almost complete darkness?

How Do You Get to Gold Camp Road? 

Gold Camp Road is easily accessible from the Colorado Springs end, starting at 21st Street and Highway 24 near Manitou Springs. Turn right from 21st Street onto Lower Gold Camp Road and follow it around, winding up through forested portions of North Cheyenne Canyon.

Eventually, you will travel through Tunnel One and then Tunnel Two before the road turns into Upper Road. That is where you will see Tunnel Three gated over. But you can continue on Upper Gold Camp until you hit Old Stage Road. 

The scenery along Gold Camp Road consists of evergreen forests, and jagged orange rocks carving up the hillside.

Here you’ll need to make a decision. Do you want to travel to the mining towns of Victor and Cripple Creek by continuing on the upper road? Or would you prefer to follow a loop back down to Colorado Springs by taking the Old Stage Road?

Can You Drive Gold Camp Road in Colorado Springs? 

Yes, you can drive on the paved portion of the road in Colorado Springs. But the rest of the way, you’ll drive on dirt roads. It is accessible in the Broadmoor area, close to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

In fact, the front of Gold Camp Road winds its way along the side of Cheyenne Mountain, overlooking The Springs. Visitors can drive through tunnels one, two, and nine. The other tunnels are impassable by vehicles, but bicyclists and hikers can go through several.

How Long Is Gold Camp Road in Colorado Springs?

The entire length of Lower and Upper Gold Camp Roads from Colorado Springs to Victor is 22 miles long. The loop from the Lower Road to the Old Stage Road measures 14.6 miles long. It passes through two of the nine tunnels on this historic route.

Gold Camp Road just after it becomes a dirt road going south along the side of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, CO.

How Many Tunnels Are on Gold Camp Road? 

Nine tunnels lie along Lower and Upper Gold Camp Roads, each used for the Short Line railway during its heyday. Today, only three can accommodate passenger vehicle traffic, but none of the roads require four-wheel-drive vehicles.

You can drive through tunnels one, two, and nine, and cyclists and hikers can access others. Additionally, some have collapsed and are too dangerous to enter.

What Is in Cheyenne Mountain?

Cheyenne Mountain lies just south of Pikes Peak, most notably known for its housing of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

NORAD headquarters sits safely tucked inside Cheyenne Mountain. There, Air Force security and Homeland Defense officers monitor the North American continent for any aerospace or maritime threats.

They are accountable to the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada. Military security is tight in this region, but Gold Camp Road runs right along the side of this important mountain.

Is Gold Camp Road Worth Checking Out? 

Visit an old mining town full of history. Plus, the road to get there offers a ghostly tale that tweaks the curiosity of those that explore it today. It’s the perfect recipe for a fun-filled excursion, with a side helping of spooky gossip.

Bonus, you can enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains along the way. Who can pass that up?

Will you drive through some tunnels along Gold Camp Road?

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