Leadville, Colorado — Fireworks, a parade, a free cookout and a 5K are just a few of the reasons to head to Leadville for the July Fourth weekend, when this authentic mountain town hosts its annual Independence Day celebration. Known for its Old West heritage, beautiful mountain scenery, affordability and outdoor recreation, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in North America. With average high temperatures in the mid-70s this time of year, it’s the perfect place to escape the summer heat and explore one of Colorado’s most historic towns.
The Independence Day festivities begin at 8:30 a.m. with the Firecracker 5K run or walk through downtown Leadville. Preregistration is available at Melanzana at 716 Harrison Ave., or race-day registration takes place from 7 – 8 a.m. at Harrison Avenue and West 6th St., for $15. All proceeds benefit Skyline Baseball and the nonprofit Leadville-Lake County Sports Hall of Fame.
At 10 a.m., the annual July Fourth Parade begins on Harrison Avenue, which is lined with historic buildings against a backdrop of snowcapped mountains. The Leadville-Lake County Airport, North America’s highest-elevation airport, is celebrating after the parade with an aircraft and classic car display, music and free cookout, including hot dogs and hamburgers, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Leadville/Lake County Fire Department will serve root beer floats as well. The airport is located at 9150 County Road 23.
The Tony Hren Memorial Fireworks Display, sponsored by the Leadville Lions Club begins at dusk. The best place to view the fireworks is at the Lake County High School football field on West 4th Street.
There are lots of options for enjoying the whole weekend. The streets of downtown Leadville are lined with restaurants, museums, antique stores and specialty shops filled with books, outdoor wear and gear, art, gifts, souvenirs and clothing. Other activities include an ATA Registered Trap Shoot on July 3 and 4 at the Leadville Rod and Gun Club Range.
A self-guided walking tour takes visitors through highlights of the 70-square-block National Historic District of Victorian Architecture, including the largest opera house west of the Mississippi, the saloon visited by Oscar Wilde and two historic 1879 churches. Museum Passports are available at the Visitor Center at 809 Harrison Ave. The paved Mineral Belt Trail loops the city for an 11.6-mile hike or bike ride packed with historic sites and mountain scenery. Guided tours of the Evergreen Cemetery, mining district and downtown Leadville are also available through the Delaware Hotel.
Just outside of town, the scenic and tranquil Turquoise Lake and Mount Massive Golf Course — North America’s highest course — provide options for high-altitude recreation. A few minutes south on US Highway 24, the Leadville National Fish Hatchery offers free hatchery tours, a one-mile family-friendly hike on the Evergreen Lake Nature Trail and trailheads for three trails that access the Colorado Trail. Visitors to Twin Lakes can enjoy lunch, take a hike, cast a line on the shore of the state’s largest glacial lake and stroll through the historic 1880s village. A 102-mile stretch of the Arkansas River, which has its headwaters in and runs through Lake County, has recently achieved Gold Medal status; that means it’s one of the best trout-fishing spots in the country.
Conveniently located in the geographic center of Colorado, Leadville is just 103 miles west of Denver and 129 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, on US Highway 24, part of the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway. Lodging options include B&Bs, inns, an 1880s Victorian hotel, cabins, lodges, vacation rentals and modern motels. Information about lodging, shopping and dining in Lake County can be found at www.LeadvilleTwinLakes.com or by calling call 855-488-1222.