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7 Reasons to Make the Delaware Hotel Your Home Base in Leadville

For a unique Colorado getaway, look to Leadville — where the Delaware Hotel gives guests a peek into the past, and is an ideal hub to explore the town and neighboring Rocky Mountain areas.

The Delaware Hotel in historic downtown Leadville, Colorado
The Delaware Hotel in historic downtown Leadville, Colorado

As a former silver boomtown, Leadville is full of rich history dating back to Colorado’s frontier days. In the center of it all is the Delaware Hotel, whose Victorian-era styling has earned the nickname “a museum with pillows.” Sitting at 10,152 feet in elevation, it’s also the highest historic hotel in North America, so there’s no doubt you’ll find a true mountain experience with all the recreational opportunities that come with it. Read on for seven reasons why you’ll want to stay at this vacation gem in Leadville.

1. The accommodations showcase Victorian-era elegance.

Built in 1886, the Delaware is the last of Leadville’s grande dame hotels. Many of the original items are still in place and being used, though the décor is ever changing as guests can purchase items like crystal lamps, tapestries and antiques. Another special touch in the rooms — ranging from singles to suites, and even some pet-friendly quarters — are the framed biographies and news articles that tell stories of historic characters with ties to the town, like Horace and Baby Doe Tabor or Margaret “Molly” Brown.

2. You’ll have a built-in museum experience.

History comes to life not only through the room furnishings, but also galleries of museum-quality collections in the hotel. Throughout the common areas, you can get up close and personal with quintessentially Victorian displays of clothing, pewter, taxidermy mounts, china, linens and artwork. And if you’re thirsting for more knowledge, the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is down the street, with its interactive exhibits delving into the industry that gave Leadville its start.

3. Bringing home a one-of-a-kind souvenir has never been more convenient.

The onsite Delaware Mercantile is a true emporium when it comes to shopping. Friends and family back home will be delighted at any number of toys, games, clothes, jewelry and other souvenirs that you pick out for them. In town, the Firehouse General Store is a sister shop that offers an eclectic mix of Western décor, pet accessories and home wares. And when you fall in love with a stunning antique in your room or a piece of art adorning the walls, chances are it can be yours — and even shipped to you.

4. There’s no shortage of outdoor adventures around Leadville.

When you’re in the Rocky Mountains, taking advantage of recreational activities is a no-brainer. The hotel offers adventure and lodging packages year-round, including golfing, rafting the Arkansas or Colorado rivers and horseback riding. Just two blocks away, enjoy access to the Mineral Belt Trail, an 11.5-mile loop around Leadville that passes important mining sites and offers gorgeous views of the Sawatch and Mosquito mountains. Don’t forget about a day spent dropping a line into the ample fishing holes across the county, or on the water paddling a canoe.

The area is also prime for thrills like ziplining, off-roading, dogsledding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Partake in Colorado’s favorite winter pastime by hitting the slopes at nearby Ski Cooper, an affordable and family-friendly ski area.

5. Planning your sightseeing is easy with the Delaware Hotel’s assistance.

In the summer, don’t miss interpretive guided walking tours implemented by the hotel with a variety of themes, from Saloons and Brothels to Murder and Mayhem, the Mining District and even of the hotel itself. Those inclined to discover the area on their own should pick up a route map at the front desk for a self-guided walking or driving tour of Leadville’s National Historic Landmark District. Another highlight is a boarding the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad for a scenic train ride that will make you feel like you’re reliving the gold rush days. Coordinate with the hotel for a package that combines the trip with your lodging.

6. A warming cup of coffee or delicious meal is never far away.

Fuel up for the day’s adventures at the hotel’s complimentary continental breakfast. Choose from an assortment of European-style pastries and Starbucks coffee — in fact the Delaware has passed Starbucks’ rigorous vetting process to be designated a boutique hospitality inn. If your stay in Leadville will involve a crowd, hotel restaurant Callaway’s can cater your function or even provide box lunches for a group outing of at least 20 people. In the evening, you’ll be walking distance to an assortment of the town’s restaurants and historic saloons for dinner and drinks.

7. Leadville is perfectly situated for day trips and greater exploration.

From Leadville, the possibilities are endless for seeing more of what Colorado has to offer. Not far from the hotel you can access the Route of the Silver Kings, a 10-mile drive through the historic mining district. For a warm and relaxing soak in natural mineral waters, head south via Hwy 24 to Cottonwood Hot Springs.

Or, strike out on the Top of the Rockies scenic byway to wind around some of the tallest peaks in the state, like Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. Along the way you’ll encounter Camp Hale National Historic Site, the former training base of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division — whose name is lent to the 10th Mountain Division Hut System that surrounds Leadville and is used by hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers. And speaking of skiing, five major resorts are located within an hour’s drive: Copper Mountain, Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge. It’s no wonder that Leadville is considered the geographic center of Colorado.