This will be an off-road tour of the Gold-Belt Byway. Phantom Canyon, lunch in Victor, continue along Shelf Road, ending in Cañon City. This could be considered a group training drive, for club members to go out on their own later in the year for leaf peeping season.
(Leaf peeping is an informal term in the United States and Canada for the activity in which people travel to view and photograph the fall foliage in areas where leaves change colors in autumn. An organized excursion for leaf peeping is known as a foliage tour or color tour.)
Phantom Canyon Road
This road is one of the most scenic and historic drives in Colorado. The route increases in elevation from 5,500 to 9,500 feet and offers the chance to see a wide range of plants and wildlife in their natural setting. The gravel road follows the route of the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad built in 1894 as a connection from Florence to the goldfields of Cripple Creek and Victor.
The unique bridges and tunnels offer a visual link to the area’s historic past. The road condition and narrow bridges encourage people to slow down and view the scenery. Twelve stations were established along the F&CC Railroad grade to service the trains hauling coal and supplies upgrade and gold ore downgrade to Florence’s smelters. As you drive the route, interpretive displays and signs designate the historic sites along the Gold Belt Line.
EARLY LUNCH STOP Gold Camp Bakery
They offer a wide selection of German and American items. Their German menu selection is not as sweet as the typical American pastries. For lunch they offer sandwiches on their freshly baked breads, salads, soups, chicken pot pies, miner’s pasties. They have a wide selection of cakes, pies and cookies, etc. For the soup of the day, the staff stated that if we let them know ahead of time, they’ll prepare OUR choice. (Will need to get a list of available choices for us to vote on).
We can call ahead to order pies and desserts for take home.
Address: 112 S 3rd St, Victor, CO 80860
Shelf Road transformed an untraveled wilderness into a major route for the stagecoaches and freight wagons traveling between the Arkansas Valley and the Cripple Creek Gold Mining District. The rugged route’s name is ‘THE SHELF’, a five-mile stretch of road that hugs the sheer rock walls of above Fourmile Creek.
Originally called the Cañon City and Cripple Creek Toll Road, Cañon City’s business leaders financed the road. The toll collectors lived in small cabins nestled at either end of the Shelf and collected tolls every time a horse, wagon or stagecoach passed.
The toll varied from 30 cents to $1.75 for single riders, wagons, and stagecoaches. Ranchers driving cattle along the road paid for each head. Eventually, competition from railroads put the toll road out of business. Fremont County purchased the road and opened it as a free road. This road has made for a memorable trip since its construction in 1892 so be prepared for a driving adventure.