At 10,200 feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated community in the United States. Surrounded by 14,000-foot mountains on all sides, Leadville Colorado actually occupies the lowlands in The Upper Arkansas River valley. From Town you can see two of Colorado’s two highest mountains – Elbert and Massive.
Leadville Colorado is called Cloud City. It was the birthplace of many great American fortunes. Men and women with drive and ambition were attracted to bustling Leadville. The mountains echo with the names of the rich and famous made that way by the massive amounts of silver dug out of the Mosquito Range.
Leadville Colorado is associated with many mining fortunes, successful names, Guggenheims, Marshall Fields, WB Daniels and James V Dexter. Margaret Tobin (Unsinkable Molly Brown).
Unfortunately, Leadville also attracted those from the seedy side of life, actors and con men, and other low life’s, Texas Jack, Buffalo Bill Cody, Chicken Bill Lovell, Broken Nose Scotty and Soapy Smith, Doc Holiday. Leadville was the true wild and wooly west
Main Street Leadville Colorado
In 1896 the business men of Leadville Colorado decided to build a huge Ice Palace to attract winter tourist to town. 5000 tons of ice was used in the construction. The opening was celebrated with fireworks and parades. Train loads of tourist came from Denver. But by the time the ice melted do to an unusual warm spring the ice palace was decelerated a financial lost and never repeated.
Winter Carnival on Main Street
If you love history and museums, you’ll love Leadville. It is the Museum Capital of Colorado. It has six museums. Take the self guide walking tour and you will consider the town itself, a museum for Victorian architecture.
The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum
“The Smithsonian of the Rockies”
120 W. 9th Street (open year-round)
The National Mining Hall of fame And Museum in Leadville is the Premier Showcase of American Mining. It’s is filled with displays, mine replicas, artifacts, historic photographs and mining treasures. Walk thought the underground hard rock mine replica, The prospectors Cave, model railroad chugging thought the replica mining camp and many rooms containing gold and mineral specimens. This world famous museum is five stars all the way.
The Matchless Mine
11/4 miles east on East 7Th Street (open May- Sept.)
The Matchless Mine was the cornerstone of the Tabor fortune. In this famous rags to riches story, you’ll discover the lonely vigil of Senator Tabor’s trophy wife, baby Doe, who waited for the return of wealth until her body was found frozen to death among the remnants of his empire. The Matchless mine is now operated by the Mining Hall of Fame.
The Tabor house
116 E 5th Street
Horace Tabor and his wife Augusta lived here until 1881. The house was originally on Harrison Street but was later move to make room for the Opera house. The house tells the story of Horace Tabor and his fortune.
The Tabor Opera House
308 Harrison Ave (open may – October) closed on Sundays
This was the largest and grandest Opera House West of the Mississippi River build in 1871 by Horace Tabor. 800 theatergoers could be seated in plush red leather theater sets. Culture came to Leadville, as well as, some of the most talented artist of the era. With Names like John Phillips Sousa, Oscar wilde, Harry Houdini, and Jack Dempsey, The Tabor Opera House became famous.
The Nealy House 912 Harrison ave. (open May to October
This is Leadville oldest museum and it tells the story of life in the mining camps of the 1880’s visit the log cabin of Colorado’s first millionaire, James Dexter, and Daniel Healy’s Victorian home
The Heritage Museum
102 East 9th Street (open May to October
_ The Heritage Museum is noted for the replica of Leadville famous Ice Palace. It also tells the story of the 10th Mountain Division ski troops of WWII, which trained in Camp Hale just outside of Leadville.
One of Leadville’s hidden secrets is Ski Cooper. It is located 10 miles north of Leadville on Tennessee Pass. This small family oriented ski area is over shadowed by the expensive International known ski resorts on the over side of the mountains.
Ski Cooper was started by the U.S. Army as a training camp for ski troopers the 10th Mountain Division during WWII. Today, It is one of Colorado’s most innovative small ski areas. It is one of the most affordable ski areas in Colorado.
Ski cooper has 26 runs, five lifts, vertical drop of 1,200 feet, with the longest run of 1.4 miles. It was a something for everyone, 30% is beginner, 40% is immediate, and 30% is experts. In addition to all the basic services, it also has snow cat skiing on Chicago ridge. Did I tell you? It is very affordable.
The Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad
Hop abroad The Leadville Colorado & Southern Railroad and take a sightseeing trip up the mountain. The two and half hour’s journey is just about right and well worth it. You travel along the mountainside overlooking the upper Arkansas River.
The stop at the old water tower is great photo opportunity. The view of the Colligate Range west of town is fantastic.
This line was build to haul ore from Climax Mine To the Processing plants in Pueblo, Colorado. Today it hauls happy passengers half way up the mountainside and back How to get here
Leadville Colorado, at 10,131 ft, is centrally located in the center of Colorado high country. It is just 120 miles west of Denver. Take I-70 west to the Copper Mountain exist on Colorado hwy 91. Leadville is 23 miles over Climax pass.
You can camp just about anywhere in the National Forest that is flat enough to pitch a tent. Most of the forest is wide open unless it is posted. You can primitive camp along backroads for free or If you want to pay you can use the Forest service’s Campground at Twins Lakes. It is beautiful.