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Leadville

Two people on bikes with fat tires cruse on a trail through aspens turning golden in Leadville, Colorado

Some locals say that Leadville really is about 2 miles closer to heaven. At 10,152 feet, it’s the highest incorporated city in North America and is flanked by Colorado's highest fourteeners: Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. 

 

Catch especially stunning views of Mount Elbert when you visit Twin Lakes — Leadville's nearby neighbor named for the beautiful blue glacial lakes that reflect the area's surrounding peaks.

 

All this natural beauty coupled with the town's Victorian charm makes it easy to see why Leadville was named one of "The 15 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2023" by Smithsonian Magazine.

 

Learn more about Leadville & Twin Lakes

And this high-alpine beauty is easier to access than you might think: The city is in the geographic center of Colorado, on U.S. Hwy. 24, part of the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway. Denver is 100 miles east and Colorado Springs is 128 miles southeast.

Find out why locals love Leadville.

Leadville isn’t just notable for its rarefied air and incredible scenery. The Victorian town has drawn adventurers since 1879 — the dizzying start of the silver boom. With the lure of instant wealth came a lively cast of characters, including the Unsinkable Molly Brown, gambler-dentist-gunslinger Doc Holliday and future millionaires the Guggenheims, Mays and Boettchers.

Perhaps the most famous of these historic residents is Horace Tabor, who became notorious for leaving his wife and marrying a younger woman, as well as discovering one of the richest silver strikes in the state. His second wife, charismatic Baby Doe Tabor, was a story of triumph and tragedy — she died destitute at the Matchless Mine, once one of the highest-producing mines in the region. The Tabor Opera House, a magnificent 450-seat theater that’s currently being rehabilitated, remains a testament to Horace and his civic influence during the town’s heyday.

Just 20 minutes from Leadville, you can visit Camp Hale — a new national monument dedicated to the alpine camp that served as a World War II training ground. The U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division trained at Camp Hale in winter conditions similar to those they fought in during WWII in the Italian Alps.

Discover more about Leadville history.

Downtown is walkable and full of museums, shopping and independent establishments to eat and drink, like locally loved Two Mile Brewing Co., known for its malty Camp Hale Pale Ale and toffee-infused Poverty Flats Porter. Treeline Kitchen is another favorite — especially for its rooftop seating. Some of the state’s best homemade Mexican food can be sampled at Casa Sanchez, or you can sip a rich Cuban-style cortadito at Buchi Cafe Cubano. The deep-fried Brussels sprouts from Tennessee Pass Cafe will keep you coming back for more, as will the Margherita pizza at High Mountain Pies.  Mineral 1886, located inside the Delaware Hotel, serves chicken and waffles, avocado toast and house-made doughnuts.

For a nod to Leadville and Twin Lakes' mountain town history, the first full weekend in March brings the Leadville Ski Joring & Crystal Carnival, when daring horse-and-rider teams tow a skier down snow-packed Harrison Avenue. As the three race along the course, the skier flies over jumps and spears rings.

Leadville’s paved Mineral Belt Trail offers year-round recreation for bikers, hikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers. 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 and the chance to see mining structures up close.

Ski Cooper boasts all-natural snow and one of the lowest priced lift tickets in the state, including $30 Thursdays on select dates. The ski school, the single-base lodge and the magic carpet for beginners make it an excellent destination for families. But make no mistake, expert-level runs in Tennessee Creek Basin offer high adventure for powderhounds. With 70 skiable acres of double-black-diamond terrain added in 2020, Cooper now has inviting options for everyone, from first-time skiers and boarders to experts.

Note: All passes (season and day) must be purchased in advance online at SkiCooper.com. Passes are required for entry for skiing, uphilling, eating in the lodge or any other activity. 

Check out more winter activities in Leadville & Twin Lakes.

Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad is another attraction worth checking out, as well as one of the highest golf courses in North America — Mt. Massive Golf Course. Fact: Your ball flies farther at high altitude. Come hit the drive of your lifetime at this friendly nine-hole public course.

Explore more ways to have outdoor fun in Leadville & Twin Lakes.

Just 20 miles from the town of Leadville at the base of Independence Pass is the historical Twin Lakes area, where you’ll find world-class fishing and some of Colorado's most spectacular lake and mountain scenery. Twin Lakes is close to the trailhead to Mount Elbert and the renowned Interlaken Hotel historical site. It’s a true small-town American West experience.

For breathtaking stargazing under the pristine dark skies, check out Mount Bump near the Red Rooster Visitor Center for easy access and telescope-friendly views.

Plan your trip

Find Leadville hotels and places to stay

Learn about the nearby city of Twin Lakes

Check out these four travel tips for vacationing in Leadville

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