Black Hawk beckons with slots and Sasquatch

Today’s travel review covers Black Hawk, which is spelled with two words. Or possibly one. I don’t know. And it doesn’t really matter, except that it’s a long drive from Black Hawk back to Grand Junction, and there are long stretches where you can’t get any radio stations. So you think about such things as the spelling of towns — lest you be forced to talk to your spouse, who would rather nap on the way home than discuss spelling issues, as I’ve discovered firsthand.

We bolted for the central mountain gaming mecca after my parents offhandedly mentioned that they’d be “happy to watch the kids some night.” We were halfway through De Beque Canyon before they could finish their sentence. I called them from the road to thank them, and to reassure them that there was a “decent” chance we would come back.

Black Hawk is a nice getaway from Grand Junction. It’s sort of like Las Vegas, except without all that fun and entertainment.

People go the Black Hawk for one thing, and one thing only: to get speeding tickets on the Central City bypass, which is a very nice welcome into town, by the way. It also ensures that you will be down for the trip before you even step foot in a casino.

According to its official town website, Black Hawk is “The City of Mills.” I’ve been there numerous times but have never seen a mill. I’m not even sure what a mill is. But I guess the “City of Mills” sounds better than “The City Where Degenerate, Chain-smoking Senior Citizens From Denver Blow Their Social Security Checks.”

Coloradans, as you may recall, approved a 1990 ballot measure that approved limited stakes gambling in Black Hawk. The main benefit of the initiative, touted backers, is that, “proceeds would be earmarked for historic preservation efforts statewide.”

That spirit of community-mindedness continues to this day. “I’m here because I want to contribute to historic preservation efforts statewide” is something you frequently hear from slot machine players.

I skip the slots in favor of a poker game at the Ameristar, where I have the unfortunate distinction of being the only person at the table who doesn’t speak Vietnamese. I don’t know where all of these Vietnamese people came from. Vietnam, probably. That’s OK. It doesn’t matter if there’s possible collusion, or that it feels like I’m in Hanoi and have stumbled into the Nguyen family’s home game, the cards speak for themselves. And mine are telling me to go to the ATM machine.

Instead, Marie and I seek out dining options.

The banner fronting one casino makes my heart sing: “$1.50 New Castle Ale and a chili cheese dog.” If there are sweeter words in the universe, I have yet to hear them.

Unbelievably, we find an even better deal at the Sasquatch Casino, where a delicious, generous-sized club sandwich costs just 99 cents, unless you’re like me, and seated in front of a video poker machine, in which case the sandwich costs just $23.89.

A quaint feature of this place is the giant-sized replica of a Sasquatch in the middle of the casino. Because that is clearly not tacky enough, they have a separate, furry, Sasquatch “butt” that you’re supposed to rub for good luck.

You often see this same thing in some of the elegant casinos along the French Rivieria.

That’s the appeal of this town, because while it’s not like Vegas, it’s not like Vegas. In other words, at a place like the City Center in Las Vegas (which cost $9.2 billion to build), 99 cents represents 1 percent of your dinner tab. And in Las Vegas, if you want to rub something’s butt for good luck, it’s going to cost you a two-drink minimum.

We return to Grand Junction, with our spirits recharged and our stomachs full. As for our wallets?

Well, let’s just say we believe in contributing to historic preservation efforts statewide.

Reach Steve at beauregardsteve@


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