The former mining town of Sliver Plume sits at one end of the three-mile, engineering masterpiece known as the Georgetown Loop Railroad (Georgetown is at the other end). Visitors can start the rail ride from either location several times daily.
In Silver Plume, you’ll find the restored 1884 Silver Plume Depot, which offers a free slide show and exhibits on the history of the railroad, as well as steam engines and cars on view in the adjacent railyard. During the hour-long train ride, there's an opportunity to stop and tour the 1870s Lebanon Mine. You'll explore the old silver mine with a guide who will explain the rich history of the area and mining techniques once used there. Watch for big horn sheep along the way.
In its Victorian downtown, be sure to stop for homemade breads and treats at the local bakery, as well as enjoy antique shopping and cups of delicious tea.
Don't be intimidated by the steep mountains encircling Silver Plume; hiking, camping and fishing are all accessible in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest that surrounds town. Visit the Clear Creek Ranger station (exit 240 at Idaho Springs) for area maps.
Farther west, Loveland Ski Area straddles the Continental Divide at the Eisenhower Tunnel, offering beginner to expert terrain as well as a local, down-to-earth crowd.