Not everyone came to Colorado seeking gold. Other minerals played an important part in the state's history, as you'll discover in Leadville. And at 10,152 feet, it’s the United States' highest incorporated city.
Leadville was once home to H.A.W. Tabor, who became almost as famous for leaving his wife and marrying a younger woman as for discovering one of the richest silver strikes in the state. His second wife, Baby Doe Tabor, became the stuff of legends — there's even an opera about her.
Leadville was a very influential boomtown — it was almost named as Colorado's capital city. Well-preserved, Leadville has 70 square city blocks of Victorian buildings — like the Delaware Hotel — all part of a designated National Historic Landmark District, along with 20 square miles of a preserved mining district. More than 50 buildings date back to the 1870s, including the Tabor Opera House. For a spirited look back on the Old West, don't miss the annual Leadville Boom Days celebration each August, complete with gunslingers, burro races, mining competitions, food and more.
Leadville is located in the geographic center of Colorado, on U.S. Hwy. 24, part of the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway. The town's paved Mineral Belt Trail offers year-round recreation for bikers, hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
Downtown is walkable and full of places to eat and hang, including the new speakeasy and absinthe bar, Wilde’s Green Hour, and its companion grab-and-go bakery and coffee shop, La Resistance. Treeline Kitchen is another new favorite — especially for its rooftop seating. A visit to one of Colorado's oldest restaurants, The Golden Burro Cafe & Lounge, founded in 1938, offers a unique step back into Leadville's past with a historical menu and period decor.
Catch a ride on the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad excursion. And don't miss the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, a truly fascinating look at the powerful industry and all the metals that helped build the state.
In winter, head out to Ski Cooper, a great and affordable family ski area. And Leadville’s East Side Mining District is groomed all winter for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and snowmobiling. Part of an extensive network of nearly 100 miles of groomed trails, the Mining District offers unparalleled views of the Sawatch and Mosquito ranges, the state’s highest fourteeners (Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive), the chance to see mining structures up close and solitude on trails kept in excellent condition.
Cross-country skiing abounds throughout the area (and the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center’s Cookhouse is a most delicious destination), and visitors in March will be delighted by the town’s ski-joring festival, where horses tow skiers down Harrison Avenue.
Just 20 miles from the town of Leadville at the base of Independence Pass is the historic Twin Lakes area, where you’ll find world-class fishing and some of Colorado's most spectacular lake and peak scenery. Twin Lakes is close to the trailhead of Mount Elbert and the renowned Interlaken Hotel historical site. It’s a true small-town American West experience.