By Donna Fowler
With Golden as its name, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that gold is what led to the city’s establishment.
A small amount of the precious metal found in Clear Creek drew settlers to the area in the mid-19th century. Golden grew up to provide supplies for the miners heading up the creek. In 1892, Golden became the capital of the Colorado Territory, but 14 years later, lost its capital status to Denver when Colorado earned statehood.
These days, it’s doubtful that anyone who has the good fortune to be living in Golden minds that earlier snub, certainly not Bradford Real Estate agent and Golden resident Joe Bauers.
“Golden gives you a secluded small-town feel but is just 20 minutes to downtown Denver,” he says. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
The city of more than 18,000 is just west of Denver at the base of the Foothills, nestled in a valley between Lookout Mountain and North and South Table Mountains. I-70, C-470 and U.S. Highway 93 all provide quick access from the east, south and north. It’s an easy route into the Rocky Mountains up U.S. Highway 6 through Clear Creek Canyon with it stunning cliff walls.
Two famous and very influential establishments often come to mind when people think of Golden: the world-famous Coors Brewery Company and the 144-year-old Colorado School of Mines devoted to engineering and applied science.
But Golden is so much more. “Golden is a paradise for recreation,” says Joe. “Hiking, biking, rock climbing, kayaking and many other activities are available right out your back door in all directions.”
Parks, trails and open space are abundant in and around the city. The aforementioned Clear Creek Canyon is a mecca for rock climbers and kayakers — you might even see people panning for gold along the newly opened Clear Creek segment of Jefferson County’s Peaks to Plains Trail.
A short drive from downtown Golden is Golden Gate Canyon State Park, with more than 12,000 acres of dense forest, rocky peaks and aspen-rimmed meadows filled with miles of trails for the hiker, horseback rider, mountain biker and winter-sports enthusiast.
Golden offers an abundance of fine restaurants, coffee shops, breweries and bars. Among Joe’s favorites is The Sherpa House, 1518 Washington Ave., which he says is a dining and cultural must. “The food is delicious, authentic Himalayan cuisine. And what’s really cool is that the majority of the employees are actual Sherpas from Nepal. The owner and many of the employees have reached the summit of Mt. Everest!”
On another side of the dining spectrum, Joe recommends Bonfire Burritos, 17025 South Golden Rd., an outdoor burrito stand that sells “great burritos!”
Joe’s favorite breakfast eateries include the Golden Diner, 700 12th St., “a very relaxed casual spot to enjoy classic diner-style breakfast or lunch,” and Sassafras, 1027 Washington Ave., where you can enjoy “fantastic, out-of-the-ordinary Southern cuisine” on an outdoor patio that overlooks Clear Creek.
Several new breweries have opened up in the last few years in Golden. Joe recommends Cannon Ball Creek Brewing Co. (393 N. Washington Ave.), Mountain Toad Brewing (900 Washington Ave.), and Barrels & Bottles Brewery (600 12th St.).
Golden offers lots of education options for children, with 23 public schools in the Jefferson County School District and 20 private schools. Four of the public schools have achieved ratings of eight or nine out of ten for academic, equity and environment factors by greatschools.org: Mitchell Elementary, Manning Options, Ralston Elementary and Fairmount Elementary.
There are also lots of fun, family-oriented community activities. The Fourth of July features a festival and fireworks, while Buffalo Bill Days offers everything from a Best of the West parade and a mutton bustin’ competition to a golf tournament and family cookouts.