By Steve Beauregard – Being the closest legal casino to Ft. Collins, Black Hawk is a popular weekend destination for full time Ft. Collins residents, as well as the thousands of students who attend Colorado State University for part of the year.
So how far away is it?
It all depends on what route you take, however generally speaking, it’s 99 miles, (or 157 kilometers), from downtown Ft. Collins to Black Hawk, Colorado, using Interstate 70 and the Central City Parkway. Skipping the interstate and going up Highway 6 through Clear Creek Canyon results in a trip of just 90 miles however having done both routes many times, the interstate route is more likely to get you there quicker.
I mention this, because several mapping systems recommend you take the two lane canyon route. This highway 6, however, is often heavily traveled with casino employee buses and casino shuttles and other slow-moving vehicles. In addition, being just two lanes some of the way means one wreck can tie up traffic for quite awhile. By going up through Clear Creek Canyon, you will save 9 miles of travel, however the risks to me, are not worth the reward.
So in my experience, using the two Interstates (I-25 and I-70) from Ft. Collins and Black Hawk would be more advisable. It would take you an hour and 45 minutes to get there using this route, versus an hour and 37 minutes using Highway 6, (according to Google Maps). Again though, that 8 minutes you supposedly save can easily be eaten up by slow-moving traffic, weather conditions, a wreck, or all three.
To get there, head east out of Ft. Collins to Interstate 25, where you’ll head south. From there, it’s just over 52 miles to Denver, where you’ll want to take I-76 west. (Look for the signs that say “Grand Junction.”)
Five miles later, you’ll get on Interstate 70 going west. A marathon away (26.3 miles to be exact), you’ll see the signs and the large Central City Parkway on your right.
Once on the Central City Parkway, it’s just 8.1 miles to Central City, which, like it’s bigger sister to the east, offers limited stakes gambling (up to $100 per bet). But those of you wanting to go to Black Hawk will just follow the main road, as the Central City Parkway turns into Nevada Street at downtown Central City, which in turn, leads you into taking a right onto Gregory Street.
From there, Black Hawk is just a tad over a mile away. The Ameristar Hotel and Casino is exactly 1 and 1/2 miles away from downtown Central City.
Scenic Route from Ft. Collins to Black Hawk and Central City
Besides my recommended Interstate routes, or the Google-recommended Highway 6 journey, there’s another scenic route you could take.
The mileage is nearly the same, (90 miles), but taking the scenic route from Ft. Collins to Black Hawk is a little prettier. However it does take around 15 minutes longer, assuming good roads and no wrecks. On this route, you you’ll be getting off the interstate, and going through the town of Boulder before meandering your way along two way roads through canyons and mountains.
The exact distance is 89 miles, and mapping systems estimate that it would take you just under 2 hours to get here (actually 1 hour and 58 minutes).
To go the scenic route, head out east again from Ft. Collins to I-25. Once again, you’ll go south, but this time for only 29 miles. You’ll exit at CO-119, which takes you west to Longmont, then southwest to Boulder. For about one miles, CO-119 turns into Highway 36, otherwise known as 28th Street in the heart of Boulder (confused yet?), but a mile later you’ll see the signs pointing you back to CO-119, leading you up towards Boulder Canyon.
Boulder Canyon is a pretty drive (unless it’s a snowstorm), and you’ll undoubtedly see a million Subaru Outbacks carrying Boulderites just back, or on their way to climbing, hiking or other outdoor adventures. (Citizens of Boulder are legally required to own either a Subaru or Prius with a “Hope and Change” sticker affixed).
It’s about 17 miles up Boulder Canyon from Boulder itself to Nederland. Once in Nederland (famous for its “Frozen Dead Guy Days” – a celebration of the deceased grandfather who was cryogenically frozen in a shed behind his grandson’s house), you’ll see the signs pointing you to go left (still on CO-119) towards Black Hawk and Central City. It’s about an hour and a half drive (or 70 miles) from Ft. Collins to Nederland.
From there, you’ll just stay on the curvy CO-119 for a half hour (or 19 miles) to the north entrance of the town of Black Hawk. Central City is just 1 and 1/2 miles up the hill from Black Hawk.