Las Vegas is famous for its heat. Situated in the middle of the desert, temperatures above 100 degrees are commonplace. Meanwhile, anyone who has been to the Strip knows that the massive amounts of walking involved. While casinos appear to be one after another, it can be a 10-15 minute walk in the heat to get from one to another.
So what if there was a place similar to Las Vegas… only with less walking and situated in the mountains so that it was almost always cool. In fact, what if this place often had snow on the ground, and had more than a dozen casinos along a main strip, making it Las Vegas in the mountains?
We’re not talking about a fictional place. This resort town actually exists. It’s name is Black Hawk, Colorado.
And while no one would confuse Las Vegas for Black Hawk, if you’re looking for a place to gamble, have a wide choice of casinos, and avoid the heat of Vegas then it might be for you.
Black Hawk, Colorado: Little Las Vegas in the Mountains
Sitting at just over 8,500′ feet (about a mile and a half above sea level), Black Hawk is an old mining town founded in the 1850’s. The town itself is quite small — only about 150 people call it home as residents — but like many towns in Colorado, tourism is big business.
A scenic hour-long drive from downtown Denver, the town is nestled in a valley, with one stretch of road where casino after casino call for your attention. When it comes to gaming there is something for everyone. Casinos both large and small take up residence in the tiny gaming town.
On the large end are casinos that feel similar to what you’d find in Las Vegas, such as the Ameristar (with its soaring tower that dominates the landscape) to much smaller “mom and pop” casinos like the Sasquatch Casino, with a replica sculpture of the famous mountain beast inside. In total there are more than a dozen spots for you to enjoy.
Now, keep in mind that this is by no means the glitz and wild party life that you’ll find in Las Vegas. The minimums are typically much lower (you can always find $5 table games around town) and there aren’t nightclubs or pool parties, nor are there DJs or high-end dining.
Cooler Weather to Beat the Summer Heat
Perhaps the biggest draw to the area is that you can have your fine without sweating. In July — the hottest month for the area — the average high is just 78 degrees. Even in the middle of winter the average high is still about 40 degrees. In other words, on average it’s fairly comfortable even when sweltering in other parts of the country. No wonder Black Hawk is a great escape during those hot summer months.
Getting There & Accommodations
If you want to visit the area, it’s located just about an hour west of downtown Denver. Once getting into the mountains that surround Black Hawk the drive is breathtaking. You can take a shuttle or simply rent a car if you are flying in.
Denver is served by a major international airport with direct flights from countless cities. Give the central location of Denver, it’s a short flight from most places around the country.
If you want to stay in Black Hawk, the casinos in the area offer a number of places to book. Here are a few notable hotels. Click each link to read reviews from travelers on TripAdvisor.
By far the largest and grandest casino in the area, Ameristar is on par with Vegas style hotels. It features a large tower with rooftop pool so you can relax and take in the view of the surrounding scenery when you are playing the slots or hitting the tables. While the walking in Black Hawk is never far, the hotel sits in the middle of the action making it convenient if you want to go casino hopping.
Isle Casino | Hotel
Next to Ameristar, the Isle is one of the large hotels and casinos in town. It sits on the end of the “Strip.” That means you’ll have to walk a bit to get to other casinos, but there is the Monarch right across the street. To be honest, there’s not much reason to leave the Isle. It features a large, open gaming floor with every game you can imagine including craps. There are also a number of restaurants including a buffet and steakhouse.
The Lodge Casino
The Lodge features only 50 rooms so if you are looking for a smaller option, this might be it. Located right across from Ameristar, it’s arguably the best positioned casino if you are someone who likes to hop from place to place. Within a five minute walk are several other places to try your luck, in addition to The Lodge’s own (large) casino. Inside the hotel are several places to eat at affordable prices, including a buffet. The Lodge is also generous with their comps for new players and have a military/first responder discount.