The twin towns of Central City and Black Hawk in Clear Creek Canyon west of Denver are so close, it's hard sometimes to tell where one begins and the other ends. They do have two other things in common, though. They both have revived the history of the area and are known today for limited-stakes gambling.
This current-day clamor for cash echoes long-ago Colorado's Gold Rush, which started here in 1859. Because of its newfound riches, Central City nearly became the state capital. It had more culture than Denver, and all that gold besides. Several opera houses sprung up by the early 1860s and the most enduring, the Central City Opera House, still holds performances today, including a summer opera festival.
The town also boasted gaming halls, saloons and brothels, as did most of the mining towns. The annual Madam Lou Bunch Day each summer honors the memory of the town's most famous madame and gives everyone a chance to kick up their heels.
Black Hawk and Central City sport several gaming venues, from intimate parlors to enticing resorts. Visitors tempt Lady Luck 24 hours a day at $100-limit blackjack, craps, roulette and poker tables, as well as slot and video machines at more than 20 casinos.
The town sits along the Peak to Peak Highway, a scenic byway that tours popular Front Range towns like Estes Park and Nederland. Outdoor enthusiasts can also venture into nearby Golden Gate Canyon State Park for the 12 hiking and biking trails, campsites and the views from Panorama Point Scenic Overlook.