Boulder to Idaho Springs via CO-119

Explore waterfalls, Himalayan cuisine, and laid-back mountain town life.

Miles: 48.2 | State Park Sidetrip: Golden Gate Canyon State Park 

WEATHER

Back in 2017, National Geographic named Boulder, Colorado, “happiest city in the U.S.” thanks to “breathtaking scenery, a pleasant climate, a charming downtown, and enough outdoor activities to keep even the most active person busy.” And sure it’s tough to leave the city’s intoxicating vibe, but a drive along the southwest portion of CO-119 is a pleasant way to get out of town for a day and enjoy some beautiful Front Range scenery and mountain town atmosphere.

Stop 1: Boulder Falls

Waterfalls come in all heights, beauty, and accessibility. Some are hard to reach and require a long day hike while others can simply be found right near the road. Boulder Falls comes into view after a short 100-yard trail leading hikers through ponderosa pine and a narrow canyon before reaching this cascading 70 foot falls.

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Stop 2: Nederland

This easygoing mountain town was once the mill site for silver ore during World War I but is now the gateway to the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area and home to retail, local restaurants, outdoor activities and a great craft beer scene.

Kathmandu Restaurant 

Resham Gurung opened Kathmandu Restaurant in the scenic mountain town of Nederland in 1999. This tasty spot features authentic Himalayan cuisine made from scratch using original family recipes and includes dishes such as Chicken Paloong, Lamb Jal Fregi, spicy Chicken Chili and Vegetable Momo. If a buffet is more your style, visit from 11am-3pm and start piling it high.

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Ncred’s Nicecream

Order your flavor and choice of toppings and then watch as they flash freeze it all with liquid nitrogen at this tasty little ice cream shop. Using the same element that makes up 78% of Earth’s atmosphere results in a creamy explosion of flavor and an experience you’ll never forget.

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Other places to stop include Very Nice Brewing CompanyThe Train Cars Coffee and Yogurt Company and Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse.

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Beautiful scenery is around every corner on CO-119.

Stop 3: Idaho Springs

Although CO-119 doesn’t take travelers directly into town, it’s still worth the short drive up I-70. Visitors can tour the Phoenix Gold Mine, set up a rafting trip with a local outfitter and walk the historic district on Miner Street that is packed with restaurants and unique shops.

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Bridal Veil Falls

There are several Bridal Veil falls in Colorado but this one is best viewed after strolling under I-70 via the Charlie Taylor Waterwheel Trail for roughly 1/10 of a mile from a parking lot at the corner of 17th and Water Street. The waterfall cascades from Soda Creek above and into Clear Creek and is the perfect background for late 1800’s waterwheel built by a local miner, Charlie Taylor.

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Other places to stop include Echos Hippie Shop, Westbound & Down Brewery, Beau Jo’s Mountain Pies, and Harold Anderson Park to get a close up look at Locomotive #60, a now long-retired steam engine that ran along the Colorado and Southern Railway.

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