Back in 1859, prospectors panned their way up Four Mile Creek and about 11 miles outside of Boulder, they struck gold.
Gold Hill, Colorado, was the first permanent mining camp in the Colorado mountains. Today, the tiny town is a gem of a community, filled with history, and home to a rustic and welcoming lodge and restaurant.
“I think it's probably one of the more unique places in Colorado, tell you the truth. It's real Colorado,” says Brian Finn, the co-owner of the Gold Hill Inn and Bluebird Lodge.
Gold Hill was Mining District No. 1 in Nebraska Territory. Mining and panning for gold was the name of the game and people started flocking and settling there.
“It was not, you know, by any means, a really rich strike, but it was substantial,” says Brian Finn. “And Boulder was built as kind of a supply town for these towns like Jamestown and Ward and Gold Hill, because this is where all the action was back then.”
Miners built a settlement of log houses, followed by stores and a school in the small community. After that, more lodging was needed.
“The Wentworth House was built in 1872, kind of as a fancy tourist hotel,” Brian Finn says.
A dining hall was later built next to the Wentworth House, which was later renamed the Bluebird Lodge. It was operational until the 1950’s but then sat empty for about a decade. That’s when Barbara and Frank Finn fell in love with the space and purchased the property for $12,000.
The lodge and restaurant re-opened in the 1960’s under the name “Gold Hill Inn.” Both are currently run by siblings Brian and Chris Finn.
“It all started in 1962, when mom and dad bought the place. So, a lot of that early stuff I don't remember. But that's when I learned about basically everything that I do now,” says Chris Finn, the co-owner and head chef at the Gold Hill Inn.
“Everything is made every day. Here, we just — we like food, we like to make food,” says Chris Finn. He calls his cuisine “mountain gourmet,” and it’s a full dining experience.
“The menu in the main dining room is what we call a ‘table d’hôte,’ which means it's everything included. It's either a six-course meal or a three-course meal.
Brian Finn will greet you at the door and tell you all about the evening’s offerings, which typically consists of homemade bread, seasonal soups, an entrée of your choice, dessert, cheese and fruit.
“It makes for, you know, a full evening, and slowing down, and relaxing. Everybody needs to do that every once in a while,” Brian Finn says.
Gold Hill Inn’s Tournedo of tenderloin beef filet wrapped in bacon is a popular choice and the fresh rainbow trout smoked with cherrywood is a fancy feast. You can also enjoy the menu a la carte out at the bar.
“A lot of our regular customers have been coming here for years, and it's kind of an eclectic bunch. We get Denver diners, we get Fort Collins diners, and then once we get into the season, we got a fair amount of tourism coming through, international tourism and just local tourism too,” Brian Finn says.
In the spring and summer, the beer garden is a great place to enjoy a cold one, and on Friday nights, to listen to some of the best bluegrass in Colorado. The Bluebird Lodge can also be rented out for weddings and family reunions.
“Once you walk in the front door, if you have never been here before, you’ll know why you made the trip up,” Brian Finn says.
The drive from Boulder will not only provide stunning views and a break from the hustle and bustle, but will transport you to a time in history where log cabins ruled and hearty, family meals healed. We think Gold Hill Inn and the Bluebird Lodge are well worth discovering.
For more information, visit www.goldhillinn.com