In the center of Clear Creek County, Georgetown, CO is one of the most convenient places to stay when exploring all that the Front Range has to offer. Equidistant between Denver and Vail, the “Silver Queen of Colorado” was once a mining industry hub that is now home to about 1,118 people and a dozen highly-rated places to eat and drink.
Georgetown is known for its large lake, which can be seen directly from highway I-70. It’s situated high in the Rocky Mountains at 8,530 feet in a somewhat narrow canyon. It is twelve miles east of the Eisenhower Tunnel.
There are several hotel and restaurant choices in town, though not as many as in nearby Idaho Springs or over the divide in Summit County. The main street is lined with Victorian-era buildings and unique shops.
Aerial view of Georgetown, CO, from Guanella Pass. Photo: Don Graham
Summer is the peak season, mostly due to the Georgetown Loop Railroad. This historic town has been using the train tracks to deliver both goods and people as far back as the middle of the 19th century. In the winter, the local draw is Loveland Ski Area, 12 miles west on the Continental Divide.
Even in its early mining camp days, Georgetown was a place filled with the hustle and bustle of trains and entertainment. It was the last major stop for most folks before crossing over Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide.
According to Historic Georgetown, Inc., it was the Ute Native Americans who formerly roamed and stayed all over the peaks and valleys of Clear Creek. They initially hunted for deer, elk, and other game in the region. Most of Colorado has been controlled by the Ute Nation at some point.
When the European explorers went to the Rocky Mountains as conquistadors in the early 1700s, the French traders immigrated to Canada. Over the years, the Gold Rush would create such a significant impact all over Colorado that many towns and railroads would eventually be constructed.
In 1858, George and David Griffith arrived in Idaho Springs a little too late to claim any land to explore for mining. That’s when they ventured towards the Snowy Ranch. It wasn’t until Aug 1, 1859, when George finally found gold at the base of what we now know as the Griffith Mountain.
In 1860, the Griffiths formally incorporated the Griffith Mining District, and the town of Georgetown was born. The Griffiths then developed the 640-acre town that had been famous not for gold, but for silver mining.
Silver Plume, which is located a couple of miles west of town, was the “rowdy” town where most of the miners lived. Georgetown on the other hand, was where the mine owners lived, and a bit more civilized. The town appealed to tourists from all over.
Georgetown has since attracted a slew of different industries from banking, to trade, and various types of businesses. It has also become a diverse population with Irish, African American, English, Italian, German, Swedish, Chinese, Russian and others.
As the town grew bigger and bigger, it became a business and leisure destination for millionaires. This is when 19th-century hotels and housing started to develop. Today, you can still explore the different types of Rocky Mountain mansions that used to accommodate President Ulysses S. Grant himself.
Georgetown Loop Railroad – This railroad has been welcoming visitors since 1884. It loops up to Silver Plume and back on a narrow-gauge railroad, with the option to tour an old mine along the way.
Georgetown Lake – Fishing is popular year-round at this lake, filled with rainbow trout and the occasional wild brown trout. The ice gets thick enough for cars to safely drive on in the wintertime, making it a popular ice fishing destination.
Guanella Pass – Aside from the historic train that brings tourists to town, a lot of visitors pass through Georgetown because of Guanella Pass. This lovely paved road connects I-70 at Georgetown with Highway 285 to the south at Grant.
Museums – The Hamill House, Hotel de Paris Museum, and more await curious visitors who want to find out more about the past. Georgetown is a great place to go for families and those looking for a more cerebral getaway.
North of town, Georgetown Lake is well stocked with trout, making it the perfect place for locals to unwind any time of year. Heading south over Guanella Pass, the tree-lined hills of the Arapahoe National Forest are filled with opportunities for hiking, camping, and enjoying the high-elevation area.
- Guanella Pass is a great scenic drive is located in the Arapaho and Pike National Forests. There are two campgrounds open seasonally very close to Georgetown for a fee, Clear Lake and Guanella Pass.
- Read about other camping near Georgetown and Guanella Pass.
Fishing – Georgetown Lake offers great fishing year-round, and is one of the closest places to Denver for ice fishing in the winter. Alternatively, Clear Creek flows east from Georgetown and has trout fishing.
Hiking – There are numerous hikes on Guanella Pass. Probably the most famous of them is the hike to Mt. Bierstadt, one of the easiest 14ers to summit in Colorado. Silverdale, Clear Lake, and 7:30 Mine Trail are a few others off the pass.
Hotel Chateau Chamonix – Located right in the middle of Georgetown’s Historic District, this hotel is both eccentric and charming. It also offers a sense of luxury with private decks and hot tubs for guests to enjoy.
Rose Street Bed & Breakfast – This cozy B&B has four massive suites to choose from within an original house from the 1800s. They serve a full, homemade breakfast each morning, as well as afternoon treats and warm drinks.
Read about the best hotels in Georgetown.
Happy Cooker – The perfect spot for breakfast or lunch with a nice patio for warm days.
Lucha Cantina – Full of options such as gourmet Mexican food, burgers, ribs, steaks, and wings.
Mountainbuzz Pizzeria – Good option for quality pizza and appetizers.
Mother’s Saloon – After a day of skiing, head to a local dive with burritos, tacos, and a sweet deck overlooking Clear Creek.
The Alpine Restaurant and Bar – Another great happy hour spot with pizza made from scratch.
Nov – Bighorn Sheep Festival – For a fun fall Saturday in mid-November, head up to Clear Creek Creek. The Bighorn Sheep Festival hosts wildlife viewing, hikes, music, food, crafts, and other activities.
Dec – Georgetown Christmas Market – The town transforms into a beautiful showcase of holiday traditions each December. Complete with roasted chestnuts, horse-drawn wagon rides, carolers, and more, this is the most picturesque way to get in the holiday spirit.
Activities near Georgetown
- Geneva City (21mi)
- Indian Hot Springs (13mi)
- Arapahoe Basin Ski Area (20mi)
- Breckenridge Ski Resort (37mi)
- Copper Mountain Ski Resort (34mi)
- Keystone Ski Resort (29mi)
- Loveland Ski Resort (13mi)
- Winter Park Ski Resort (30mi)
- Copper Mountain (33mi)
- Dillon (25mi)
- Empire (5mi)
- Frisco (28mi)
- Keystone (31mi)
- Idaho Springs (12mi)
- Silver Plume (3mi)
- Silverthorne (23mi)
- Winter Park (31mi)