Clear Creek is a tributary
of the South Platte River,
approximately 40 mi (64 km) long, in north central Colorado in the
States. The creek drains a canyon, called
Clear Creek Canyon in the Rocky Mountains directly west of Denver, descending
through a long gorge to emerge on the Colorado Eastern Plains where it
joins the South Platte.
The creek is famous as the location
of the most intense early mining
during the Colorado Gold Rush
1859. Mountain man Jim Baker
had a cabin on the creek
from 1873 until his death in 1898. The creek provided the route of
the Colorado Central
, and later for the United States Highway 6
and Interstate 70
as they ascend to the
rises at the continental divide near Loveland Pass in the Front Range,
northwest of Grays
Peak in western Clear Creek County. It descends eastward through Clear Creek
Canyon past the towns of Silver Plume, Georgetown, and Idaho Springs, all of which were founded as mining camps in the
1859 gold rush.
Within the canyon it receives numerous
smaller tributary creeks that descend from the rugged mountains on
mouth of the canyon, the creek passes through the town of Golden, past the
the foothills, it flows through the northwest part of the Denver Metropolitan Area, passing
through north Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, then roughly along the route of Interstate 76.
section it is largely an ignored urban
, with an undeveloped floodplain. Part of the creek path
forms a wooded park with bicycle/foot path. It passes under
junction with Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 36
Turnpike). It joins the South Platte from the west in
southeast Thornton, near the junction of Interstate 76 and State Highway 224.
Clear Creek was originally named Cannonball Creek as early as 1820,
called so by the French hunters of the expedition of Stephen H.
Long, after the river rocks in its bed. In the 1830s it became
known as Vasquez Fork, also Vasquez River, after the fur trader
Louis Vasquez who had his fort at the mouth of the river and
trapped along it. It gained its present name from the gold rushers