Six Ways to Enjoy Historic Leadville Month in April

March 26th, 2015

Historic Leadville Month

Welcome to the Old West! Leadville, Colorado, may well be the West’s most authentic mining town, with a vivid Colorado heritage of wild contrasts: mining wealth and high-falutin’ residents, to poverty and ne’er-do-wells, and incredible luck to devastating misfortune. There’s so much to do see and do, April has been designated Historic Leadville Month. Spring is a great time to experience Leadville history for yourself. It’s pretty quiet up here this time of year! Explore at your own pace and feel like you’ve gotten away from it all—even though we’re less than two hours from Denver and Colorado Springs.

Here are six ways to enjoy Historic Leadville Month. Keep reading for highlights of colorful past.

1. Hike, bike, snowshoe or cross-country ski the Mineral Belt Trail, depending on the weather. It’s a paved, 11-6-mile trail that loops through the city and the historic mining district. The views are spectacular, and you can stop at some of Leadville’s most historic sites along the way. There are numerous signs along the trail that explain the significance of sites.

2. Tour our National Historic Landmark District of Victorian Architecture, which covers more than 70 blocks and includes the largest opera house west of the Mississippi, the saloon visited by Oscar Wilde and two historic 1879 churches. Pick up a map the visitor’s center at 809 Harrison Avenue.

3. Visit the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. It’s a real showcase of American mining, filled with displays, mine replicas, a model train and gem rooms. You’ll want to spend a few hours here, so set aside a morning or an afternoon.

4. Explore the 20-square-mile east-side historic mining district. There are trails for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snow biking and Nordic skiing. You can even hike on some of the groomed trails. Maps are available at the visitor center. If you’re a mountain biker, the Cloud City Wheeler’s East Side Epic winter mountain bike race is April 18!

5. Visit the Leadville National Fish Hatchery, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2014. You can tour the hatchery for free and hike or snowshoe the one-mile Evergreen Nature Trail, with signage that points out the flora and fauna, and access the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.

6. Pay tribute at Camp Hale, the training site for the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. There are interpretive signs at Camp Hale and at the entrance to Ski Cooper. U.S. Highway 24, from Leadville to Minturn, has been designated as The 10th Mountain Division Memorial Highway and is on the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway.

Leadville’s Colorful History
It started back in 1860, when gold was discovered in California Gulch. Eight thousand prospectors soon arrived, and within five years, more than $4 million in gold was found using sluice boxes and pan — more than at any other site in Colorado at the time.

The gold played out, but was quickly followed by the silver boom. By 1880, Leadville had more than 30,000 residents, innumerable stores, hotels, boarding houses and, of course, more than 100 saloons, dance halls, gambling joints and brothels.

Horace Tabor, who owned a general mercantile store with his first wife Augusta, invested in mining with incredible success. He built and opened the lavish Tabor Opera House, banks and the Tabor Grand Hotel. Along the way, he infamously left his wife and married the young “Baby Doe.” He rose from a local to state to national political figure, built a mansion in Denver and lived a very wealthy lifestyle.

His Tabor Opera House presented an astounding variety of talent. The world-famous magician Harry Houdini, John Philip Sousa, the British wit Oscar Wilde, the great actress Sarah Bernhardt and many wonderful operatic performers “trod the boards” of the Tabor.

In its heyday Leadville was one of the most sophisticated and modern cities in the world, and was even a contender to become Colorado’s state capitol.

Lots of famous figures lived in or visited Leadville. Margaret “Molly” Brown arrived as a teenager in the early 1880s, working as a seamstress in a dry goods store. She married J.J. Brown and became the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown, survivor of the Titanic. Marshal Martin Duggan, Texas Jack, Buffalo Bill, “Chicken Bill” Lovell, “Broken Nose” Scotty, “Big Nose” Kate and Soapy Smith are all part of Leadville’s colorful cast of characters. Teddy Roosevelt also paid visits to Leadville, and Ulysses S. Grant arrived on the first train to Leadville.

Gunslinger-gambler-dentist Doc Holliday was one of the most legendary visitors to Leadville. Conflicting accounts of his story abound, but records indicate that he shot and wounded Bill Allen in August 1884; the last man on record shot by Holliday.

Mining was not the only interest that the nation had in Leadville. In 1889, Congress established a national fish hatchery on the east side of Mt. Massive. It’s now the oldest fish hatchery west of the Mississippi River, with free tours and access to trails. Families love the new picnic shelter and playground at this historic site.

The 1893 repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act spelled ruin for Horace Tabor and more. Local businessmen decided to combat the downturn of the economy by building the incredible Ice Palace during the winter of 1895-1896. The magnitude and ambition of this project is legion: it required 5,000 tons of ice to be cut from the nearby lakes and it featured life-sized sculptures of prospectors and burros, a skating rink and a “gallery of commerce” with frozen produce, beer and more. A Crystal Carnival, with parade and fireworks, lit up the town as well.

Mining continued, with zinc, lead and copper. The industry’s last great resurgence came in 1918 with the opening of the massive Climax Molybdenum Mine north of Leadville, now once again in operation, supplying the world with molybdenum for manufacturing.

In 1942, Camp Hale was established 17 miles north of Leadville as a training site for ski troopers for the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. During training, Leadville was a slice of civility for troops on leave. After World War II, many of these ski troopers returned to the state and were instrumental in the development of the Colorado ski industry. Following the war, Ski Cooper, pioneered by these soldiers, opened to the public as a family-friendly ski area for locals and visitors alike.

Just 15 minutes from Leadville lies the historic village of Twin Lakes, a busy mountain transportation hub between Aspen and Leadville during the gold rush days with its hotel, general store, blacksmith shop and schoolhouse. The Interlaken Resort originally opened in 1897 and eventually grew into a 100-acre complex that included a lodge, cabin, dance pavilion, servants’ quarters, stable and rare hexagonal outhouse! To get there, take a boat tour across the lake, or a hike or snowshoe trek around the lake.

Visit again this summer!
There are even more ways to relive our history during the summer months. In addition to the ideas listed above, you can visit eight museums, take guided and self-guided tours, ride the train, go underground on a hard rock mine tour and see a performance at the Tabor Opera House. And with our affordable prices, you can stay for awhile and enjoy it all!

Start planning your Leadville getaway. You can find lodging information on our website, by requesting a Leadville vacation guide or by giving us a call at 855-488-1222. We’ll see you up here soon!

Affordable spring break fun in Leadville, Colorado

March 16th, 2015

Ski Cooper - Colorado Ski Country Gems Project 2008

Leadville, Colorado — There’s a reason so many people choose to spend spring break in Colorado: It’s fun! That’s especially true in Leadville and Twin Lakes, because our affordable prices help your vacation dollars go a lot further. And that means you can stay and play longer. Here’s how your week-long Leadville spring break might go…

Day 1

Leadville visitor centerAcclimate to the elevation. Check in. Fill up your water bottle and load up with sunscreen. Take a walk around downtown Leadville. Stop by the visitor center at 809 Harrison Avenue for a vacation guide, maps and brochures. They’ll be happy to answer your questions there, too. Enjoy lunch while you take a look at the vacation guide and plot out your stay. Click for more tips for enjoying high-altitude vacations.

If you need to pick up or rent equipment, this is a good time to do so. You’ll find several shops in town that offer clothing, outdoor gear and equipment, and personal items. Make a note of the shops you’d like to spend more time in!

Thinking about taking skiing or snowboarding lessons? Unless you ski or ride regularly, a refresher is probably a good idea and will help you enjoy the rest of your time here. Check out the ski school options on There are lessons for all ages and abilities.

Try a different Leadville restaurant for dinner. Limit your caffeine and alcohol as you adjust to the altitude, and keep filling up that water bottle. Make an early night of it so that you’re well-rested for a full day on the mountain.

Day 2

riding at Ski CooperHead to Ski Cooper and Chicago Ridge! Are you planning to ski more than one day? Buy multi-day lift tickets and save. You can ski for three days at Ski Cooper for $124, about the price of one day at some of the bigger resorts. You can buy your lift tickets online as well.

In addition to its budget-friendly prices, Ski Cooper is a family-friendly resort that’s known for its all-natural snow, well-maintained runs, helpful employees and short—or non-existent—lines.

Ski Cooper offers rentals, a retail shop, day care, ski school and two dining options. Have lunch at the Base Camp Café and then belly up to the bar for a refreshing beverage and pub food at the new Katie O’Rourke’s Irish Pub in the afternoon.

Day 3

See Day 2. Do that again!

Day 4

Give yourself a break from downhill skiing and riding today, and spend some time exploring the area. Downtown Leadville has a great selection of specialty and antique stores and eateries. Take the Historic Walking Tour of the National Historic Landmark District of Victorian Architecture.

Leadville National Mining MuseumVisit the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum and discover three floors filled with interesting displays, exhibits, mineral specimens, a model railroad, a hard rock mine replica, a Gold Rush room and more. Go for a swim and a soak at the Lake County Aquatic Center.

In the afternoon, grab some snowshoes, cross-country skis or a fat bike and hit the trails. There are more than 50 miles of free, groomed trails in and around Leadville. The Mineral Belt Trail is a good place to start. You can also access trails for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery and in scenic Twin Lakes.

Day 5

Leadville snowcat skiingHead to Ski Cooper for one more day! Feeling more adventurous? Try the Snowcat tours at Chicago Ridge. If you’re not up for back-country skiing, ask about the sightseeing tours for a Colorado bucket-list experience you’ll never forget.

Day 6

Try something new today!  You can go snowmobiling, dogsledding or ziplining. Always wanted to learn how to cross-country ski? Try a winter mountain bike or snowshoes? You can rent equipment and take lessons here.

For some good, old-fashioned fun, bring your tubes to the Dutch Henri Sledding Hill. It’s free if you have your own tube, or rentals are available on weekends.

Which restaurants haven’t you tried yet? Pick one and enjoy a relaxing dinner. Want a night cap? There are several saloons that date back to the 1800s—perfect spots to end your day while you soak up the Wild West atmosphere.

Leadville snowmobilerDay 7

Your last day! How will you spend it? Whether there’s something on your to-do list you haven’t quite gotten around to, or something that was so much fun you’d like to do it again, make it happen! This is a good time to make plans to come back and see us this summer. Click for Leadville lodging ideas.

Still need ideas? Give us a call at 855-488-1222, stop by the visitor center at 809 Harrison Avenue or check out the website. We look forward to welcoming you to Leadville and Twin Lakes soon!

Cowboy up for Leadville Ski Joring and winter sports weekend, Mar. 6 – 8!

February 24th, 2015

Leadville ski joring

Leadville, Colorado — Historic downtown Leadville, Colo., will be buzzing with horses, cowboys, skiers, snowshoers and mountain bikers during the 66th annual Ski Joring and Crystal Carnival weekend, Mar. 6 – 8, 2015. Ski joring, an annual tradition in Leadville since 1949, consists of horse-and-rider teams pulling skiers down a snow-packed road over jumps while spearing rings in a timed competition. Additional snow-themed events round out the weekend, including Nordic sprints, a winter mountain bike race, a paintball biathlon and, new this year, a full moon barbecue, snowshoe tour on the Mineral Belt Trail and swim at the Lake County Aquatic Center. Read More »

4 for free in Leadville and Twin Lakes

February 15th, 2015

Leadville, Colorado — It’s easier to have fun when you’re not worried about your budget. Come on up to Leadville and Twin Lakes, where you can stay and play all week for less than what a weekend at one of the pricier resorts might cost.

Four for free:Dutch Henri Sledding Hill in Leadville Colorado 2015 Read More »

6 ways to make tracks on Leadville trails this winter

January 22nd, 2015


Family ski at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center Leadville Co Tim Gormley Jr

Family ski day at Tennessee Pass Nordic Center

Leadville, Colorado — There are as many reasons to love Leadville’s winter trails as there are ways to enjoy them. Crisp, alpine air; panoramic mountain views; plentiful snow and seemingly endless choices, just to name a few. Your options include more than 50 miles of free, groomed, multi-use trails; a professionally managed and operated fee-based trail network and Nordic center, and hundreds of square miles to explore in the San Isabel and White River National Forests and the Mt. Massive Wilderness Area. Read More »