Phantom Canyon Road is one of the most scenic and historic drives in Colorado. The gravel road starting at Victor, Colorado follows the original route of the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad (“F&CC Railroad”) built in 1894 as a connection from the goldfields of Cripple Creek and Victor to the smelters located in Florence. The road starts at an elevation of approximately 9,500 feet and decreases in elevation to about 5,500 feet where it ends at the intersection of Highway 50 near Canon City, Colorado. The trip is approximately 30 miles long and will take approximately 1 ½ hours to complete without stopping which is hard to do with all the beautiful scenery along the way: mountains, rock outcroppings, cliffs, wildlife and fauna. Also, the road is narrow in many places with the posted speed limit being 20 mph which requires you to slow down and take in the surroundings. There are three bridges along the route with the Steele Bridge, which has recently been restored, being the only original bridge that remains. In addition, you will past through 2 tunnels which were blasted through solid rock. There were twelve stations along the F&CC Railroad grade to service the trains hauling gold ore downhill to the Florence smelters and coal and supplies uphill as well as several old town sites that sprung up along the route. All that remains are road signs designating the location of the towns. There are interpretive displays along the way which you will want to stop and read to give you a flavor of the history of the area.
There are two rest stops along the route which have primitive bathroom facilities. Much of the route passes through government owned land and near the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area so there is plenty of opportunity to hike within this pristine area. See the attached link for more information on hiking within the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area: http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-victor-colorado-sidwcmdev_069145.html.
Phantom Canyon Road is a great route for mountain biking if you are riding downhill. It is recommended that you ride in a group and watch for traffic coming uphill because the road is narrow and that someone follows you down the Canyon Road in a vehicle to pick you up at the end of the trip. Also, bring plenty of water. We noticed when we were traveling down the road that there were several bikers being followed by a van so evidently there are rental opportunities with a local biking shop.
Audio tour of Phantom Canyon Road
There is an audio tour of Phantom Canyon Road which is available on CD which can be obtained from www.goldbeltbyway.com, then click on the tab for souvenirs. For additional information on Phantom Canyon Road, see: http://www.gazette.com/articles/road-62156-canyon-feet.html