Empire, Colorado

The History of a Great Mining Town

Empire is one of Clear Creek County’s hidden gems. Located just off I-70 on US Highway 40 in a sunny star-shaped valley traversed by Clear Creek.

In the fall of 1860, miners struck silver in what is now Empire, making it the first true fissure lode discovered in Colorado. Empire enjoyed prosperity from 1861 to 1865. In 1873, Congress removed silver parity with gold and demonetized silver. Overnight, the city of Empire boomed. By 1875 the Union Pass road to Georgetown was complete as well as the Georgetown, Middle Park, and Empire wagon road over the great Snowy Range to Grand County. Today the 4 mile Union Pass road still exists as a hiking trail.

In 1862, the Peck House was built by James and Mary Grace Parsons Peck. However, after more than thirty years, Empire’s historic Peck House Hotel and Restaurant closed in April 2014, as owners Gary and Sally St.Clair chose to retire. Furthermore, Empire is home of the “Original” Hard Rock Cafe. Established in 1934, Empire’s Hard Rock Cafe is now home to the second location of the Guanella Pass Brewery.

Come spend time strolling down historic Park Avenue, where you can enjoy unique shopping and dining opportunities and partake in the history of this great mining town.


Did you know?

The Original Hard Rock Cafe in Empire, Colorado was founded in 1934 and is not part of the Hard Rock Cafe, Inc. chain of theme restaurants later founded in 1971. Rather, the Original Hard Rock Cafe was founded on the mining principals of hard rock mining. The Original Hard Rock Cafe continues to served miners, locals, and visitors to the area in the star shaped valley and today is home to the Guanella Pass Brewery Taproom.

PAW Trail - Accessible Trail, Empire Colorado


Welcome to PAW – An Educational Site for Universal Design.

This is a one of a kind ADA accessible hiking trail showcasing the history of the wagon road over Berthoud Pass. The trail is also enhanced for the visually impaired with gravel sections level with the trail, which provides a different texture for impaired hikers to roam on. PERT opened in 2013, it is 481-feet long with a few steep grades. The trail is maintained by the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District.

  • Level: Easy (ADA Accessible)
  • Distance: 0.2 miles, one way
  • Elevation start/high/gain: 8,629’/8,641’/14’
  • Getting there: Access this trail less than one mile West from Empire off US40, just north of West Park Ave

Minton Park

Located just off Highway 40 – Turn down Main Street just past Town Hall and arrive at Minton Park. Truly one of the most scenic open park facilities in the County. This park offers a playground, picnic shelter, tables, horseshoe pits, and plenty of open space to roam.

For special events please contact the Town of Empire.


Easterseals Rocky Mountain Village Camp

Easterseals Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Village Camp (RMV)  is regarded as one of the top Easterseals camps in the country. RMV is fully accessible and used by more than 1,200 children and adults living with disabilities throughout the year. RMV is about all the things people living with disabilities do — campers enjoy swimming, fishing, overnight camping, outdoor cooking, travel camp, day trips, arts & crafts, sports & recreation, hiking, dances, music & drama, horse-back riding, zip-lining and more. Our camp provides a safe, barrier-free environment for children and adults living with disabilities to experience all aspects of camp without usual limitations.

During the off-season, RMV hosts R&R weekend respites and also functions as a rental and retreat facility for groups and individuals.  

Winter in Empire

Enjoy guided snowcat skiing and riding 45 miles west of Denver at Jones Pass for winter sports enthusiasts.

Jones Pass Guides are available seven days a week and operate more than 2,500 acres of terrain between 10,500 and 12,500 feet in elevation. Jones Pass Guides will take you across the Continental Divide and through incredible Rocky Mountain terrain with an average 7-12 runs per day. All trips include powder demo skis, safety gear, lunch, and suds at the end of the day.