Cripple Creek, colorado & Pipes Peak Ranch

Cripple Creek, colorado & Pipes Peak Ranch

Some 18 years ago when Liz and I lived in Colorado Springs and I worked for The Broadmoor Hotel we needed an escape from the stress of work where we could get to easily with our little camper. Of course we would always want to include our son Matt who was only 11-12 years old.

The hours at work were long and involved lots of travel so we needed a place within an easy drive cause most of our vacation/time off was over weekends. I had begun to check out real estate magazines and looking online for ideas when I spotted an ad for a ten acre mountain track with views near Cripple Creek… only about an hours drive – this was worth checking out.

Looking down from above on the “Outlook”

Cripple Creek bills itself as the “Best Gold Camp in America” yet the gold rush days are long gone. The history of these early days is not lost on us…we’ve enjoyed leaning about the rich history, the good and bad times as well as the strife in settling this small community.

A view of the main drag – Bennett Ave,
Police Station

Street scene buildings mostly built in 1896-97
Vintage marketing still shows through

Gold was first discovered in “The District”, as it was known back then in 1890 and the population exploded from 500 to over 10,000 in just three years! As you might imagine most of the buildings were hastily built out of timber milled right in the vicinity to try and accommodate the crazy growth.

Old hotel looking for new developers

By 1892 The District had been formally established as Cripple Creek presumably due to the creek that is so strewn with boulders that when the early settlers tried to cross it with cattle or horses the animals would suffer from broken legs. The elevation in the town is 9,494 so the surrounding areas are mountainous with steep ravines and impressive overlooks.

Teller County Courthouse

There was a terrible fire that befell the town in April of 1896 and burnt down all 15 acres of the community. I guess there was enough “fire in the belly” of the residents and mining operations that the entire town was rebuilt mostly in brick and stone within months and by 1899 when they celebrated the Fourth of July the town had more residents than ever! 

These days the population is around 1,400 and since the state approved legalized gambling in 1991 the town as seen nine casinos built here. My fav is the Brass Ass – its got a terrific feel/atmosphere and they managed to let this idiot gambler to walk out with much more than I came in with! Baby needs a new pair of shoes!!

Old buildings many converted to casinos or retail space

The gold mining here has produced over 25 million troy ounces of gold to date. I’m quite sure that 97% + of the net revenues left the area but nonetheless pretty impressive production.

The Gold Mining Stock Exchange Building – for many many years now the Elks Club building

Here at The Pipes Peak Ranch we’re not producing any gold but we’re rich with blessings. We’ve been absent for 12-14 years while we finished our working life and its terrific to come back out and reconnect as retired folks. Located about 3 miles as the crow flies from downtown Cripple Creek in an area (barely known) as Long Hungry Gulch Valley. Long Hungry branch runs right across the lower portion of our property and yes, we have done some panning in that little creek. We haven’t given up yet on finding a few nuggets.

The Pipes Peak Ranch – 1,000’s of acres behind us (blue) is BLM land

We’ve been boondocking here now for about a month – our International Headquarters Office (’s RV) has been working out great! Very comfortable and we haven’t yet had to use the A/C. We’re running the generator each morning and early evening to enjoy creature comforts and to charge up the twin batteries that sustain us during the day. We’re getting our drinking and basic water needs from an artisan well that’s open to the public and free. We have to transport it to our camper every 3-4 days. We use two 6 gallon totes and two seven gallon totes. The water is delicious and makes crystal clear ice cubes. Believe it or not, I’ve actually used that water and ice with a lovely Colorado bourbon on occasion.

The valley road
Wild iris blooms in early summer

Beautiful skies

As this post is running longer than most AND I’m going fly fishing today I’m going to wrap it up. Suffice to say, we’re really enjoying our visit back to the ranch and vow to come back every summer for at least 6 weeks! There’s plenty of room here for company….hitch up your rig and come hang out with us next year! The peace, quiet and incredible surroundings are worth the trip. Contact us for details and planning for June 21 through most of July, 2020.

Pipes Peak Ranch – Long Hungry Gulch Valley – Cripple Creek, Colorado (904) 753-0101

Chris Pipes
  • Joan Ritten
    Posted at 19:04h, 14 July Reply

    You better be careful putting out that open invitation, you could be overrun with visitors! Your place is beautiful!! I hope Steve and I can make it out for a visit one day. We plan on getting to Colorado one September to go jeeping. Love seeing the fall colors.. You should check out Washington here along the Columbia River. Great orchards and wineries with views that go on for miles. We’ll even give you a personal tour of our fish hatchery. Thanks for all the pictures and info.

    • Liz Pipes
      Posted at 15:55h, 16 July Reply

      Joan, you’re more than welcome to come. Whether we are here or not. If you want to swing by on your way home from Washington do so. We won’t be here but you are welcome anyway. We definitely want to visit Washington but won’t get there this year. Are you going to work at the hatchery next year? We’d love to see it and y’all! Love following your adventures!

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 16:04h, 16 July Reply

      You guys are welcome anytime….tis beautiful here. Not sure if we’ll make it all the way out to WA this year but maybe next year… we’ve got a plan to travel along the Rocky Mountain Fly Highway in a few weeks and I’m afraid the great weather will run out on us…So glad you’re enjoying our reportages! Thanks for the feedback. Chris, Liz and Pickle

  • Gus King
    Posted at 16:10h, 15 July Reply

    If’n it’s made in Colorado, it ain’t Bourbon!! Close facsimile thereof?
    Wasn’t your Old Man a Kentucky Colonel son?

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 16:00h, 16 July Reply

      My friend….to be able to call your spirits bourbon it only requires the use of a minimum of 51% corn and to be aged in NEW charred Oak barrels. So bourbon can be distilled anywhere in the world as long as it meets these minimum requirements. Yes, Dad and I are both proud Kentucky Colonels! Ya’ll come visit us here at CC and let’s have ourselves a nice Colorado bourbon….we’re glad to have you following along with us!

  • Clark Waters
    Posted at 16:48h, 15 July Reply

    Say Cod have you formulated a camping strategy for fellow RV Travelers such as yourself or is it park anywhere and figure it out? You are submitting colorful verbiage such as Cripple. Brass _ _ _, fire belly and broke legs with bourbon ! I think you are wanting to go fishing and leave the man’s work for another day ! Any way cool pictures and info about the town, enjoy your ranch life, you have earned it.
    Take care

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 15:50h, 16 July Reply

      CW – I’ve got ten acres to use and we can form a wagon train “circle” to keep everyone safe from the indians! I’ve got a friend and his wife coming over from Colorado Springs today with their camper for a few days….as you know I do enjoy colorful verbiage in my reportages. Glad you’re enjoying…see you in WY soon.

  • Carol Royer
    Posted at 17:22h, 15 July Reply

    I absolutely love your sense of humor. It’s a cross between Scott Royer and Samuel Clemens. I could feel the cool water from the well! I won’t be going out west this year but perhaps I’ll make it by to say howdy ho next year! I’ve always wanted to visit Cripple Creek since Neil Young sang about it. Gotta love ole Neil! Have a great time and looking forward to your next post.

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 15:46h, 16 July Reply

      Hi Carol – Funny – I’m listening to Neil right now! Deja Vu album…. thanks much for the nice feedback on our reportages! Please do come visit us next summer….fly into COS rent a van, camper, car and come on over to Cripple Creek for a few days….

      • Gus King
        Posted at 00:05h, 17 July Reply

        Neil Young, meh. Great talent, good voice, ALL wasted on political inspirations for 1960’s song, Southern Man. He’s as left then as leftist now. Hey Neil what about Watts, Harlem, Chicago, those were Southern Men?? YOU’RE so tolerant yourself???

        Ok, so. NEVER bought even one of your products Neil…

        Give me CSN..period. Woodstock.. Suite Judy Blue Eyes. and NO Neil!!

        Chris. And you thought I was a Lib???? But… enjoy the scenery… jealous!! GK

        • PipesTraveler
          Posted at 16:44h, 21 July Reply

          Didn’t know anything about his politics and of course back in the day really didn’t care that much! All the best my old friend…. thanks for keeping up with us.

          • Gus King
            Posted at 01:19h, 22 July

            Sorry for the Rant old friend,, but some things ARE important! Hell no, I ain’t fergettin’!!

  • Kathy Martin
    Posted at 19:17h, 15 July Reply

    We spent 40 years off and on in COS beginning in 1969 with Vic’s graduation from the AF Academy to 2016 when we sold our family home. Many of your same memories are being re-remembered, Cripple Creek being a highlight. Thank you for the eloquently imparted memories. We are currently back in CO visiting old friends and climbing a couple of 14ers for old times’ sake..

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 15:41h, 16 July Reply

      Hi Kathy – Thanks for the nice feedback – much appreciated. We’ll be here at Pipes Peak Ranch til August 1st – if you guys want to come over and explore the area…. we’ll meet you in town and you can follow us out here. All the best.

  • Barbara Erlacher
    Posted at 19:38h, 15 July Reply

    Don’t tempt us. We are putting our home here in Teton Valley on the market and beginning to look for another cool, dry place to escape TN summer humidity. During your travels if you should meet someone looking for a vacation home near Jackson Hole WY/Yellowstone/Grand Teton NP with all possible winter and summer outdoor sports; please pass along our facebook page; Erlacher Driggs ID.. Thanks. Pipes Peak looks delightful. Enjoy.

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 15:37h, 16 July Reply

      Hi Barbara – I’ll locate your FB page and share it on our FB page – Liz and I along with my sister and her husband will be in Jackson for two nights on 8/25 & 26. We’ll have our gentleman schnauzer Pickle with us too. Not sure of your availability or interest in renting for just the two nights? My email is – We’ve got to get something booked pretty soon….Thanks.

  • Steve Fruit
    Posted at 09:41h, 16 July Reply

    Outstanding Chris! We might just take you up on it!

  • Stephanie Geohagan
    Posted at 10:30h, 16 July Reply

    It’s beautiful!

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 15:22h, 16 July Reply

      Thanks! Glad you’re following along with us. Maybe you can come out and visit us here next year…

  • Jessie wasmuth
    Posted at 13:00h, 17 July Reply

    Love ur post
    Kent and I are looking at campers
    Maybe there would be a trip in our foreseeable future
    Have s great time
    Thank you for sharing!
    Love J&K

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 16:41h, 21 July Reply

      Hi Jessie and Kent – That’s great news! Hope you do get yourselves a rig… we’d love to have you join us somewhere along the way…its soo much fun. Keep us posted and we’re so glad to have you following along with us.

  • Sam And Barbara
    Posted at 23:38h, 19 July Reply

    Beautiful. How are the winters?

    • PipesTraveler
      Posted at 16:39h, 21 July Reply

      Hi Guys – We’re at 9,300′ elevation out here at the ranch so it’s a pretty cold and snowy winter. Florida is def THE place to be for Nov. through March! Hope you’re both doing good? Thanks, CP, Liz and Pickle

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