How I Missed the Denver Mint Tour

The Denver Mint, one of four mints in the United States, has been producing pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters as well as commemorative sets since its opening in 1906. As the world’s largest coin producer, the Mint also made coins for Mexico and Argentina and other countries until 1984. The next time you plan to visit the Mile-High City, be sure to sign up for the 45-minute tour, as the Denver and Philadelphia Mints are the only two that offer these to visitors.

16th street mall towards Denver mint

16th Street Mall towards the Denver Mint

On a very short trip to see family in Denver, Colorado, we had one day to do something touristy, something you could only do in Denver. I looked at the TripAdvisor app on my phone and began checking out the many recommended tourist attractions this busy city has to offer. I rattled off the top sites to my wife and when I mentioned the Denver Mint, she jumped in excitement: “Oh, my gawd! I haven’t been there in 30 years.”

My wife grew up in Denver, and she went on to tell me how she used to go on one of the many tours during the day in order to experience the making of money.

Denver Mint building seen from across the street

Denver Mint building

I can tell you now that it was probably one of the worst decisions we have ever made in all of our years of traveling. Little did we know that our chances to take a tour of the Denver Mint were nil.

Basically, the Mint is no longer open to visitors, except for a very few. I don’t often get mad, but standing at the sign with “tours start here” had me boiling. To cool off both on the inside and out, we went to the great gift shop that filled joy into the coin lover in me. After a few minutes, I was able to calm down and remind myself that I didn’t practice what I preach: do your research before traveling.

Better late than never, I decided to read up on the Denver Mint while my kids ran recklessly through the gift shop (a sort of payback, I guess).

mint sign

After navigating the incredibly confusing government website, I finally asked the nice, young girl at the gift shop how to actually go on a tour. “You book it online,” she said.

That seemed simple; however, after a short time looking online, the website was just a blur of content. The girl took my phone and pointed out the smallest, most obscure “book a tour” button at the bottom of the page. Right there and then, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to sign up for a tour. I started requesting dates, but they were all booked a month in advance, at least that was as far as I checked. Being the curious fella that I am, I decided to read the fine print about what it really takes to see the Denver Mint.

Inside the gift shop

Denver Mint gift shop

Make a reservation online up to three months in advance: When you make your reservation, each person must have a valid social security number or a government-issued ID. Furthermore, there’s a screening process by the FBI. It could take one to three months to find out if your request has been approved.

Tours are limited to 15 people and they can be cancelled at any time for any reason, including the fact there aren’t enough people on the tour. If your request is approved, arrive at the gate 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the tour—don’t be late! If a group is larger than 15, call for an appointment: 303-405-4761.

All bags, purses, and cameras aren’t allowed on a tour. If you show up with them, you’ll be refused admission and/or these items will be confiscated. No, there aren’t any lockers to store your belongings, either.

Children 7 and under aren’t allowed entry. As a father, I’m a little lost on this one.

In my humble opinion, I feel like attempting to visit the Denver Mint is a complete waste of time, unless it’s on your bucket list. I also think TripAdvisor needs to develop a system that informs travelers how difficult a tourist attraction may be to visit. Who would have thought that it was going to be an issue to go on a tour at the Mint.

leaving the mint

Bonus: If you’re one of the lucky ones to go on a tour, you get a shiny new coin at the end of the tour. SPOILER ALERT: If you go to the Federal Reserve Bank down the street, you’ll receive a bag of shredded money.

Denver, Colorado

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