Do you have a place that you consider your home away from home? For the husband and me, it’s Leadville, Colorado. While reading my journal to gather some details for my post about climbing 14ers, I found my entry for the 2002 trip in which we first discovered Leadville. We visited many central Colorado towns on that vacation, and at the end we ranked them. Funnily enough, out of seven towns, the husband ranked Leadville second-to-last, and I ranked it last!
Since then, we’ve gone out to Leadville five more times, so clearly our perception has changed.
Sitting at an elevation of 10,200 feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the US. But like any good small town looking to cement its place in the annals of history, it has ongoing beefs with other claimants to the “highest town” honor – first Alma, and now Winter Park. (Note: it all depends on where you measure the highest point, whether you’re a city or a town, and other minutia I’ll leave the Coloradans to fight over.)
An old mining town, Leadville might not be as pretty as some other Colorado mountain towns (scenic views notwithstanding), but it has its own unique charm and endearing authenticity.
We are regular patrons of several shops and restaurants, including:
Around town, there’s ample evidence of Leadville’s quirkiness, such as with the repurposing of skis…
Some unusual home facades…
And oddly-placed bicycles…
In the last several years, Leadville has become a go-to place for tough sporting competitions, including a 100-mile mountain bike race, a 100-mile trail run, high-altitude, steeply-inclined marathons and half marathons, and more. A few years ago we supported my brother as he competed in the Leadville 100 MTB race.
Where can you stay in Leadville? No idea 😉 other than our beloved campground, Sugar Loafin’. Just slightly outside of town, it sits in the shadow of Mount Elbert and Mount Massive, which makes just chilling at your campsite with a coffee (a.m.) or a glass of wine (p.m., I suppose) a worthwhile way to spend time.
Here’s what I’m looking at in the picture above.
There’s a lot to do in and around Leadville. If it’s raining and you’re stuck in your little travel trailer, you can…
But hopefully the weather is nice. In that case you can cycle the paved 12-mile Mineral Belt Trail, awash in fresh pine scent and beautiful alpine views.
You can take a scenic train ride. We did this a few years ago.
Fun towns like Buena Vista, Salida, Aspen, Frisco, and Breckenridge are a relatively short (and usually scenic) drive away. On the way to some of them you may drive over a mountain pass. If that’s the case, the husband usually likes to cycle up.
This time, I elected to join him. We cycled up Vail pass, first from the Copper Mountain side, and the next day from the Vail side.
Leadville’s proximity to several mountain ranges makes it an ideal base for climbing 14ers.
So whether you want to engage in athletic pursuits, sample the local offerings, or interact with the wildlife, as long as you dress in layers, Leadville and environs is the perfect place.
Until next time, Leadville…